Lodging in Olympic National Park comes with a decidedly rustic flair, but wherever you end the day you'll find a comfortable room and a good -- sometimes great -- meal.
There are four lodgings inside the park's boundaries: Kalaloch Lodge, on the Pacific Coast in the park's southwestern corner; Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, on the north end; Lake Crescent Lodge, which is a bit further east of Sol Duc; and finally the Log Cabin Resort.
Here's what David and Kay Scott, the Traveler's lodging experts who toured the properties during the summer of 2011, had to say about each location (Pricing is from summer 2011):
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.
Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort
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.
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.
Log Cabin Resort
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.
Though it's practically on the park's border, Lake Quinault Lodge is outside the park. But it definitely should be in the mix when considering a visit to Olympic.
The lodge certainly enjoys the ambiance of a park lodge. It consists of six buildings, including a two-story main lodge that was constructed in 1926 on beautiful Lake Quinault.
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 might 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.. 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.