Lodge-Hop the Olympic Peninsula

Explore a rare, lichen-cloaked landscape—and some seriously old-school lodging.

By Rachel Ritchie February 23, 2016 Published in the March 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Elle Michalka

The coastal Pacific Northwest, stretching from Oregon to British Columbia, claims 66 percent of the world’s temperate rain forests. The other 34 percent? It lurks in narrow swaths of Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. Just a few hours in the car leads to the west side of Olympic National Park, where more than 12 feet of annual rainfall feeds a flourishing forest of western hemlocks, Douglas firs, and Sitka spruces. The park’s interior is accessible only by backpackers willing to trek 10 to 20 miles, but good old Route 101 just happens to encircle the Olympics, wending its way along a scenic route past a series of historic lodges. Here’s your lodge-hopping road map:

Lake Quinault Lodge

This icon of rustic wilderness lodging, built in 1926, makes an ideal stop for your first night. While guest rooms are appointed in a spare, charmingly vintage style (read: a little creaky), the vast, lake-facing lobby, anchored by a huge fireplace, oozes western grandeur. A day hike from here leads to the historic Kestner Homestead, and many of the park’s arboreal splendors dwell nearby, including the record-size Sitka spruce and Quinault big cedar. Open year-round

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

Legendary salmon runs, towering evergreens, subalpine lakes, and a mossy, three-pronged waterfall sit within the Sol Duc Valley, tucked away in the northwest corner of Olympic National Park. Thirty-two small cabins offer easy access to the resort’s four hot-spring pools, and backpackers embark here for the popular alpine meadows of the three-day High Divide Loop trail, which boast the park’s best views of Mount Olympus. Open Mar–Oct

Lake Crescent Lodge & Log Cabin Resort

On the north side of this blue-green glacial lake just west of Port Angeles, the historic Log Cabin Resort offers rustic kitchenette cabins, camper cabins, and a lakeside chalet. To the south, the Lake Crescent Lodge, built in 1915, boasts an antique-furnished lobby and a fireplace decorated with a 20-point Roosevelt elk. A network of trails sprawls from the lodge, including one that climbs to the top of Mount Storm King, and the glassed-in porch makes a fine spot for a sunset cocktail. Open Apr–Jan & May–Oct

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