National Park Road Trip 2011: Kalaloch Lodge and Lake Quinault Lodge At Olympic National Park

Lake Quinault Lodge, though actually outside Olympic National Park, is a good basecamp for touring the southern half of the park. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

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.

Driftwood beach at Olympic National Park
The beach below Kalaloch Lodge is heavy with driftwood. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

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.

Lake Quinault Lobby, Olympic National Park
The lobby at Lake Quinault Lodge is a great place for some downtime. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

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.

Beachside cabin at Kalaloch Lodge.
The cabins at Kalaloch overlook the Pacific Ocean. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

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.

Comments

We volunteered as campground hosts at Sol Duc campground in the Olympic National Park.
The entire Park is just beautiful.
A couple of years ago we went to Port Angeles on family business and on the return we stayed at Lake Quinault Lodge. Below is a paragraph I copied from the Park website.

In the fall of 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Lake
Quinault Lodge during a fact-finding trip and enjoyed lunch in the
later-named Roosevelt Dining Room. Nine months later, Roosevelt signed a
bill creating Olympic National Park.(source: Olympic National Parks.com)

We love Lake Quinault Lodge and I can't wait to stay there again.

Re: An abundance of moisture is a common thread throughout the park. LOL, My new bride (from Imperial Valley, Ca) first got an idea of what she was in for when she saw the rain gauge on the Quinault Lodge Deck that measured in FEET!!! We'd take the Zodiac across the lake from our families' cabin on the North Shore for breakfast on special occasions. Lots of good memories.

We have stayed several times at Lake Quinault Lodge, using those off season rate packages. Marvelous - we did have one of the fireplace rooms once. Fireplace, lake view, off season quiet - such a romantic interlude. The food was quite good. A visit to the rain forest is a short hop for the midday. Highly recommended.
One memory from a visit to Kalaloch was two eagles perched high on a tree branch overlooking the ocean.

Keeper:
Re: An abundance of moisture is a common thread throughout the park. LOL, My new bride (from Imperial Valley, Ca) first got an idea of what she was in for when she saw the rain gauge on the Quinault Lodge Deck that measured in FEET!!! We'd take the Zodiac across the lake from our families' cabin on the North Shore for breakfast on special occasions. Lots of good memories.
I think it depends on which part of the park and what time of year. We spent 4 days on the Olympic Peninsula in late August and didn't encounter any rain, including the Kalaloch area. It was actually quite dry at Hurricane Ridge.

I do understand that the reason for the glaciers in the Olympic Range is that they're replenished every year by all that high precipitation.

Hey Y_P_W, no apologies needed for the rain on the West side of the Olympics or for the heat in Death Valley in summer for those humbled by it all finding ways to adapt and finding joy (if not Banana Slugs) where they happen to venture. The Redwoods nor the Hoh Rainforest were settled by those trying to find Sedona or Scottsdale, lol. No disrespect to you(at all). I just have a different idea of perfection,lol!Rock On!

While it didn't rain during our visit to the Olympic Peninsula, there were certainly cool, foggy mornings. I took this photo on the way back to the Beach 4 parking lot:

I have lived in the northwest for 34 years and I have never been on the coast in the rain. Morning mist on several occasions.