National Park Road Trip 2011: Kalaloch Lodge and Lake Quinault Lodge At Olympic National Park
Editor's note: David and Kay Scott have just about reached the end of the road in their westward trek to sample lodgings so they can update their book, The Complete Guide To The National Park Lodges. This dispatch covers two of Olympic National Park's lodging options, the Kalaloch Lodge and Lake Quinault Lodge.
It is cool and overcast today in coastal Washington’s Olympic National Park. This isn’t unusual for these parts, of course, but the two of us would certainly welcome a little sunshine. Still, we shouldn’t complain because it has been over 100 degrees with high humidity back home in South Georgia. That is something to really complain about. We just completed a one-night stay at Kalaloch Lodge following two nights a short distance south of here at Lake Quinault Lodge. Kalaloch Lodge is directly on the Pacific Ocean and we can see and hear from our room the breaking waves.
A short walk and we are on the rugged beach filled with huge driftwood pushed ashore from past storms. Quite a change from the Florida beaches we frequented for many years.
We have probably visited this park a dozen times. During the early visits we were driving a series of VW buses and frequented the park’s many campgrounds. Olympic is a diverse park of nearly a million acres with ocean beaches, beautiful lakes, a rainforest, and snow-capped mountains.
An abundance of moisture is a common thread throughout the park. We still remember our first visit when we camped in the Hoh Rain Forest and it was as if an artist had painted everything a brilliant green. Oddly, we don’t remember it raining during that particular stay.
Olympic National Park has four lodging facilities, all but one of which is operated by ARAMARK Parks and Destinations. The other lodge continues to be managed by an independent concessionaire, an increasingly rare occurrence.
We typically stay in and write about Lake Quinault Lodge that lies just outside the park’s southern boundary, in part because it is operated by ARAMARK, but also because we enjoy our stays there. In truth, when we were writing the initial manuscript for our book, we stayed at the lodge because we thought it was in the park.
Not being as rushed during our second lodge trip three years later, we learned the lodge was actually across the lake from the national park. The lodge certainly enjoys the ambiance of a park lodge so we decided to continue including it as an entry in our guide. Lake Quinault Lodge consists of six buildings including a two-story main lodge that was constructed in 1926 on this beautiful lake.
In 1972 two buildings with larger rooms were added to the west end of the lodge. These rooms, called Fireplace Units, are the largest and most expensive rooms at the lodge, renting for $269 during high season. Nearly 20 years later, a contemporary three-story building was added on the opposite side of the lodge. These Lakeside Units are quite nice and many rooms offer good views of Lake Quinault. These rent for $229 during high season.
Main lodge rooms on the lakeside rent for about this same price. The lodge also includes a “Boathouse” with nine rooms of varying size.
We have found that, unlike many concessionaires, ARAMARK wheels and deals on room rates depending on the season, vacancies, and even the time of day. During the off-season you may be able to get a Lakeside room for as low as $134 per night. They also offer specials, such as buy one night, get a free night, or food and activity credits with a room purchase.
The focal point of the lodge is the large lobby where guests gather to read, play cards, and chat with other guests. There always seem to be people in the lobby, even at 5:30 a.m. when I walked down one morning. The large brick wood-burning fireplace that always seems to be burning is a major attraction here.
The adjacent dining room has large windows that offer excellent views of the lake. During evenings guests often gather around a bonfire beside the lake. During our last night at the lodge we presented a program about national park lodges in the auditorium.
Several miles north along the coast, Kalaloch offers an entirely different lodging experience. Kalaloch’s focal point is the Pacific Ocean. The lodge dining room and many of the cabins offer excellent views of the ocean. Ten rooms, including two suites are in the main building. Another ten rooms, including four suites, are in a motel-type building that sits back from the bluff overlooking the ocean.
Most guest rooms are in cabins, some directly on the bluff, and others a short distance behind those on the bluff. Rooms in the main lodge run from $72 to $182. Suites cost more. Regular rooms in the motel building range from $112 to $192. Cabins on the bluff range from $145 to $306 depending on size and season. Cabins a short distance from the bluff range from $122 to $208.
Like at Lake Quinault Lodge, ARAMARK frequently offers special deals at substantially lower prices. Today we drive north along the coast to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, another ARAMARK concession in Olympic National Park. Then it is two nights at Lake Crescent Lodge, one of our favorite national park lodges. Our next report will include both of these lodges plus Log Cabin Resort.