National Park Road Trip 2011: Lake Crescent Lodge, Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Log Cabin Resort in Olympic National Park
Editor's note: Having enjoyed the crashing surf at Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park, David and Kay Scott moved north to Lake Crescent Lodge, the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and the Log Cabin Resort to inspect other lodging possibilities in the park for an update to their book, The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges.
Two nights at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park have moved us into the road trip’s eighth week. It has also completed our time in this diverse park. When we drove north of Forks, Washington, on U.S. 101 and turned east a couple of days ago we started home to Georgia for this is the most distant spot of the trip.
On this occasion the turn brought a peek of distant blue skies, a nice surprise following another morning of fog and cool temperatures. As an aside, aggressive elk caused the National Park Service to close the park’s Hoh area just north of Kalaloch. Campers were required to pack up and leave. Wildlife is asserting its authority.(Note: Rangers put the elk down earlier this week.)
The small Washington town of Forks is best known as the setting for the Twilight books and movies. Even though the movies were not filmed in the area, several stores in Forks are named after the movie title, and full-size cardboard cutouts of the stars are in the town’s visitor center. You have to take advantage of what comes your way. For us, Forks is best known as a place to stop for groceries.
The previous article mentioned that Olympic has four lodges, three of which are managed by Aramark Parks and Destinations. The fourth lodge is operated by an independent concessionaire, although this contract will soon end and is up for bid.
The last article also described our stops at Lake Quinault Lodge and Kalaloch Lodge. Today we will provide an overview of the park’s other three lodges. All are between Forks and Port Angeles, in the northern section of the park. The close proximity makes it likely that travelers will choose one of the three as a base.
Sol Duc Hot Springs consists of 32 modern cabins scattered about a meadow in front of the main lodge that itself has no guest rooms. Each cabin has a covered porch, and picnic tables and swings are scattered about the property.
Some cabins have kitchens while others do not. Some front on a river. Cabins without a kitchen range in price $131 to $160. Those with a kitchen cost an extra $30 per night.
The draw at Sol Duc for most guests is the mineral springs that feed three pools behind the lodge. The pools are each at different temperatures allowing guests to gradually adjust to the warmest water. A large swimming pool has fresh heated water. Lodge guests have free access to the mineral pools.
The Sol Duc area offers hiking trails including a three-mile trail to beautiful Sol Duc Falls. A restaurant serves breakfast and supper while lunch items are available at a deli for lunch.
Log Cabin Resort, on the eastern shore of Lake Crescent, enjoys what may be the best location of any of the lodges other than Kalaloch, which sits overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The resort offers rustic cabins, motel-style rooms, A-frame chalets, and camper cabins.
Prices range from $94 for the rustic cabins to $161 for the A-frames. All the units enjoy excellent views of Lake Crescent and the surrounding mountains.
The resort advertises itself as being on the “sunny side of the lake” which apparently means it enjoys more sunshine than Lake Crescent Lodge that sits on the opposite short.
We can’t vouch for the claim, but assume it may be true since mountains produce strange effects on the weather.
Our take on Log Cabin Resort is that it is popular with families, in part because the shoreline is more conducive to swimming in the lake. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the dining room and sandwiches and pizzas are available from 11:00 to 4:00 in the coffee shop.
We spent our final two nights in Olympic National Park at Lake Crescent Lodge. Lake Crescent offers a series of cabins and motel units, plus five rooms without a private bathroom on the second floor of the main lodge. The latter, at $105 per night, are the least expensive rooms here.
The majority of cabins sit along a row facing the lake on one side of the main lodge. These rent for $199 to $219.
Four more expensive Roosevelt Fireplace cabins on the opposite side of the lodge are pretty much on the lake’s shoreline. These are very popular and quite difficult to reserve.
Motel units are arranged in three pods on the far side of the cabins. Of these, the one-story Marymere rooms with large picture windows and the best lake views are our favorites. The other two motel complexes are each two-story and a little further from the lake. All motel rooms rent for about $165.
This is the second season that Aramark has operated Lake Crescent. It appears that Aramark plans to renovate all but the rooms during the coming year.
Today we are on our way to visit friends in Tacoma after which we will drive west to North Cascades National Park for a stay at Stehekin Landing Resort. A new concessionaire has taken over the property since our last visit and we are anxious to see any changes that have occurred. We will send a report.