For anybody who’s wanted to get away to see the beauty of the Olympic Mountains in Washington state, or even anybody who’s tired of the Cascade Mountains and wants to see something new, the Lake Quinault Lodge should be on the top of your list.
Lake Quinault Lodge
The Lodge was built in 1926 and through preservation looks nearly the same as it did nearly a hundred years ago. The wood dominated interior is beautiful to look at and heavily references the wooded forest surroundings of the Olympic National Park. The ceiling contains several instances of Native American art to pay tribute to the local Indian population. Unfortunately it’s Mayan inspired rather than locally based, but looks nice nonetheless. The enormous brick fireplace sits in the center of the lobby and is framed by several large, squishy couches, a warm inviting area for a rainy day.
The walls are lined with original black and white photographs of the construction of the lodge and historical snaps of the local area. It’s a neat feature that involves you more in the history of the people and the lodge itself. There’s even the piano originally saved from the first version of the lodge, which burned down in the twenties. The piano still functions, so you can play what you like on it, at least until 10 pm!
Downstairs, there’s several more entertainment options to keep you busy. In addition to a television, there’s foosball, ping pong, and billiards tables to play with. In the adjacent room is the pool, a full size area with heated water so you can get away from any cold outside.
For the outdoors, if the weather is good, there are plenty of trails to hike through. Whether you wish for a short hike or a long one, the options are available. For the water enthusiasts, the lodge is located right on the lakefront within a minute walk from your room. There are paddle boards and kayaks available to rent if the weather suits you.
The room we stayed in was located in the Fireplace Rooms area, a quick walk from the lobby and pool. The room contains an ample amount of space and even a fireplace, keeping in mind the cold rainy days the area is prone to in winter.
Attached to the lobby is the historic Roosevelt Restaurant, so named for the time President Franklin Roosevelt visited and had lunch there in 1937. They have a wide selection of food for all meals including dessert, and wide windows providing sweeping views of the lake and surrounding forests. They even have several hummingbird feeders hanging outside, so don’t be surprised to see a few of them humming around.
Whatever suits your breakfast fancy, the Roosevelt Restaurant has you covered. Whether it be eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast, or biscuits & gravy, every item is a solid choice. The eggs and bacon and biscuit and gravy dishes came with delectable fried potatoes, and a strawberry for that great fruity taste. The sausage gravy was extraordinarily creamy, and complemented the biscuits perfectly. The french toast came topped with cinnamon apples, making for a unique and mouth watering flavor. The marionberry syrup for the pancakes was perfect, and different from the typical maple syrup. Top it all off with an orange juice and you have the meal you need to start your day. Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 11:30.
The lunch menu is dominated by sandwiches and burgers, so it should be the kind that pleases everybody. Among the starters are soup and salads, a personal favorite of mine is clam chowder, and their Quinault variety was to die for. There was also the soup of the day, the Chicken Noodle, which was just as good. We were biased towards the Sasquatch Burger, which included a delicious aioli sauce. I tried the All American, a chicken burger with crunchy onions and ranch dressing on the bun. The fries included were huge and intensely yummy. With your choice of entree, you can have fries, chips, or even fruit if it suits you. Lunch is served from 11:30 to 2.
For dinner, the ante is raised and the meals become very fancy. If you like the typical standby of a burger, that is still available to you. However, for the more adventurous, there’s the Ribeye steak, the Shepherd’s Pie, and even pumpkin ravioli. To keep with the lakefront water theme, I ordered the duck, soft and tender with fried potato bits. Chloe tried the pot roast, a juicy meat hunk that pulled apart easily and tasted wonderful, and came with great vegetables. We topped it off with a dry cider. Dinner is served from 5 to 8:30.
For the chocolate lovers, you have to try the Chocolate Espresso Lava Cake, a small dark chocolate cake filled with gooey chocolate filling, topped with a mountain of whipped cream. The dessert menu is given at dinner, but don’t let that prevent you from asking for it at lunch. These items are the best, and can be enjoyed at either time.
With the Olympic National Park comes the Rainforest, a lush, green paradise bordering the beautiful lakefront. Tours are provided that last around four hours, so it’s not a quick trip you can try for a lark, but once you get started, you’ll know you’re in for a treat.
The tour is run by a guide in a small bus that seats comfortably about ten people. Our guide LeRoy was both informative and a riot to spend an afternoon with. He was extraordinarily knowledgeable on the different species of trees to be seen, the history of the Native American tribes that lived in the area, and the expeditions attempted by the early explorers. He also was quick to offer binoculars and answer any questions anybody had on the wildlife, plants, or history of the area.
The tour follows a pattern of LeRoy engaging with the tour group as he drives, narrating what you see out the window along with relevant local history. Then he will stop the bus and lead everybody out to a particular spot that’s worth seeing up close. In one of the first stops, you get to see the world’s largest Spruce tree, the ‘Sitka Spruce,’ breaking the scales at 191 feet tall.
In addition, there are several trees of the enormous variety to see on the tour, and beautiful locations with great views of the lake, river, and forest. There were waterfalls, and even moss sasquatch. There had also been a recent storm, so we had the pleasure of walking through a patch of fallen cedar trees, all of which were at least five feet in diameter. We unfortunately didn’t see any animals on our drive, but apparently it’s not uncommon to spot deer, elk, eagles, and even bears and cougars on the journey.
If the rainforest tour is too long for your liking, there are several trails near the lodge you can try yourself at your own pace and timing. We enjoyed the Rain Forest Nature Trail, which was not only relatively easy to traverse, but also gave us lovely unblocked views of the lake and sights of wildlife, like the banana slug.
If you get tired of the rain forest and want something on the ocean, there are several great beaches to check out within a half hour drive of Lake Quinault. Driving along the scenic Washington coast is enough of a treat, but if you want to see something truly extraordinary, we recommend the Tree Root Cave at Kalaloch Campground. It’s a tree that had the soil under it eroded away over time, yet the depth of the roots on the side allows it to still stand. It appears to hover and is not only an exceptional sight of nature, but also a great photo opportunity to show your friends.
With trails a-plenty, satisfying lodging, delicious food, outstanding views, and tremendous sights to see, Lake Quinault is a hidden gem of a location that deserves a spot on the ‘can’t miss’ attractions of Washington State. If you don’t mind a little rain and a handful of hummingbirds, give them a call.
Check out our ‘The Magic of the Olympic Peninsula’
for more information on the Olympic National Park …