a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis
We're thinking of doing the Peninsula in the fall of this year and I'm stumped for hotels. As is so often the case, the NP lodgings get minimal and/or lousy reviews and rates are really high. Can anyone suggest good alternatives? We want to do Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rain Forest, Crescent Lake, the beaches and maybe a trip up to Neah Bay - at the very LEAST. Can spend 5 days or so. Will also spend 3 days or so in Seattle. We're into quality vs quantity - meaning we'd rather spend a day doing one location well than cramming in a lot. We don't plan on going into Canada - will save that for another trip. I guess I'm looking for clean, decent places to stay without breaking the bank, the most scenic places to see, and some terrific hiking. Could splurge one night or so. Any advice from some locals? What shouldn't we miss? Oh, and the NP trail to 2nd Beach is listed as closed - any other way to access that? Thanks a bunch for your help here!
Lodging can be a bit of a problem when it comes to traveling the Olympic Peninsula. There is lots of lodging in the town of Port Angeles in all ranges of pricing. A nice hotel is located right over the harbor and the rooms have full views of ships going down the straights and over to Vancouver Island. Port Angeles is the stop that all ships must pick up a pilot to travel down the straights and into the inland waters.
After Port Angeles the hotels get far between. Avoid staying at one of the reservations. Cresent Lake has a nice lodge, great lodge and cabins at Kalaloch, and another nice lodge at Quinault. Some hotels are available in the small town of forks.
You might consider renting an RV for your trip. There are lots of wonderful campgrounds on the coast, Kalaloch being right on the beach.
Mike has done a good job of advising you. This is one of the most deserted, unspoiled coasts of the continental US, and lodging is a bit tricky once past Port Angeles. Here are a few notes:
--Best Western Olympic Lodge (this is very upscale, a bit out of town).
--Royal Victorian Motel (right downtown; reconditioned two-story motel with exterior entrances, but clean as a whistle, with very friendly owners. Ask for a room on the second floor. Inexpensive).
Native American community where both legal and illegal whaling have been done recently. It's a long drive out to this NW tip of WA state. I'd suggest you have a look around but don't stay overnight (our car was broken into here).
Crescent Lake Lodge:
I haven't stayed here, just driven by it. The lake shores are very attractive and heavily wooded.
This is a working logging town, with some minor motels if you can't get a room at Kalaloch.
This is the best place to stay along the northern section of Hwy. 101. It has both a lodge, restaurant, and cabins right on the beach. However, it can be booked out as much as a year in advance, so try quickly!
Quinault Lake Lodge:
This one I really like. It has a lovely setting on a lake, with nearby hikes through old-growth forest, plus a decent restaurant on the premises.
Two places I'd highly recommend adding to your itinerary:
Port Townsend and nearby Fort Worden:
This town is a historic Victorian town settled by ship's captains and timber merchants. It is full of history, boutiques, galleries, good restaurants, and plenty of charming B&Bs, plus an old "castle" called Manresa (converted monastery) where each room is different. Fort Worden is a well-preserved site of mansion-like officers' quarters from around the turn of the early 20th century, and access to small beaches.
Sequim and Dungeness Spit.
Sequim is mostly a retirement community, but you can take a walk about 5 miles out along a sandy spit that goes right into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to a lighthouse. Or, just hike part of it; there'll be lots of birds and maybe a seal or two.
Good luck in your planning! It's a beautiful area.
I've stayed at the Lake Quinault Lodge. It has beautiful views of the lake. Also, there is access to a few trails right from the lodge, as well as some paths around the lake itself.
You don't seem to be enthused about NP lodging, but we did enjoy staying at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. We stayed in a simple, small cabin. The nice thing about staying here is that you can hike many, many trails without having to drive around. The trails in this area were some of my favorites that we hiked during our trip to the Peninsula. Of course, there are the natural hot springs, so that is kind of cool.
Thanks, Marianne, Mike and Valerie! We made our reservations a couple months ago for 2 nights in Port Angeles (Royal Victorian) 2 nights in Forks (Dew Drop Motel) and one in Ocean Shores (Quality Inn) before heading back to Seattle. This should put us close to trails in 3 different areas of the park plus a putter of the beaches from Forks to Ocean Shores. We'll try to hit Port Townsend and Sequim on our 1st day route to Port Angeles. Appreciated your input here!