Lake Quinault Lodge
Of all the rainforests in Washington State, this area of the Olympic National Forest is magical in the way nature integrates into every direction — old growth fir trees, rushing creeks, plants, animals, and the lake come together to convene.
Are you looking for a place where you can get away from it all — while still being within a reasonable drive from the population centers around Seattle and Portland? Does the thought of waterlogged goodness inside a temperate Washington State rainforest wonderland open your heart a little wider? Lake Quinault Lodge, in the Olympic National Forest, awaits to fulfill your yearning to connect in new ways.
When I think about the statuesque lodge constructed in 1926, the word saturation comes to mind. Not only because it precipitates here almost constantly, but also because the air is thick with oxygen and a spirit that seems to stir up the best emotion in a way that heals the soul. Of course, the weather can be clear and sunny, and sometimes even hot, but the access to unabridged nature is the calling card of the famous Lake Quinault Lodge, which was built in only 53 days.
This article provides you with everything you need to know about Lake Quinault Lodge
- Where is the lodge?
- Why stay at Lake Quinault Lodge?
- Which rooms to book
- Food and drink, and other amenities
- How to connect with nature
- Day trips from Lake Quinault Lodge
- Other Olympic National Park lodges
- Weather and planning
- Olympic Peninsula Interactive Map
Where is Lake Quinault Lodge located?
Lake Quinault Lodge is located just outside the Olympic National Park — in the adjacent Olympic National Forest. The 1926-era wood building has a commanding presence just up the hill from the sparkling glacial lake (Lake Quinault).
The location is approximately 3 hours driving time from Seattle and a little more than that from the Portland area (under normal conditions). It is well-positioned for an overnight stop along the popular Olympic Peninsula Loop — there aren’t too many other lodging options (besides camping) on this portion of the road trip.
The Southwest corner of the Olympic National Park has fewer visitors and a larger feeling of space when compared to some more popular areas like Hurricane Ridge and Hoh Rainforest. Also, expect to put away your technology during your stay — cell and wifi service are unreliable at best.
Driving times from Lake Quinault Lodge:
- Kalaloch Lodge and Tree of Life: 40 minutes
- Ruby Beach (or Beach 4): 45 minutes
- Aberdeen, Washington (nearest full services): 1 hour
- Forks, Washington: 1:20
- Hoh Valley: 1:30 (entrance congestion varies)
- Port Angeles, Washington: 2:30
- Astoria, Oregon (Highway 101 road trip): 2:30 hours
- Seattle: 2:40 (traffic varies greatly)
- Portland, Oregon: 3:15 hours (traffic varies greatly)
Why stay at Lake Quinault Lodge?
Walking into the grand lobby is like wearing the softest cashmere sweater on a crisp cool winter morning. Time travel to a quieter period in American recreation — free from tv and the internet — where families play games together and old friends convene near the massive fireplace to sip wine and exchange stories. This is a place to rest and take in the energy of the forest and lake that seem to come together to welcome humans into a picture-perfect ecosystem.
The historic hotel is open year-round and makes a great anchor to a trip around the entire Olympic Peninsula. Lake Quinault Lodge feels especially fulfilling in the winter months — framing a perfect nature getaway in a damp, velvety green world that brings to life the magic of age-old trees and all the cast of forest characters.
Those short on time while rounding the mighty Olympic Peninsula can also enjoy my favorite all-in-one rainforest experience by hiking the Quinault Loop Trail.
Lake Quinault Lodging — the best rooms to book?
Aramark handles the National Park contract for several of the lodges in the Olympic National Park. Their website is clunky (but slowly improving) and the live reservations agents are excellent if you wish to talk on the phone.
While Expedia and other booking platforms technically query this lodge, I’ve never seen it available to book. I’m signed up for the Lake Quinault Lodge email newsletter for the regular, thrifty deals — which provide updated deals on versions of 2-for-1 offers in the fall and winter. Here is the skinny on the different room types.
- Historic Main Lodge Rooms. The feeling — to simply walk downstairs to the sound of logs crackling in the commanding fireplace capped by giant Roosevelt Elk antlers — warms the heart. I’ve enjoyed a number of different options in the main lodge and my favorite was a king room facing the lake — the feeling of waking up to the sun rising over the mystical water is magical.
- Fireplace Rooms. These larger rooms are recently updated and offer modern finishes (TVs) while still feeling connected to the main lodge. Plus, fireplaces are featured in these units that are perfect for the famously damp weather.
- Lakeside Rooms. Hidden by towering fir trees, this building is more modern with standard size rooms that also recently went through a renovation. The location is physically closer to the lake but more removed from the lodge. This area seems to be more popular with families.
- Boat House Rooms. I love the aesthetic of this 1923 annex to the main lodge. There are 8 rooms (photo shown) that lead to a whimsical wrap-around veranda facing the grand lawn and views of the lake. The only true suite in the lodge area takes up the second floor of this boat house. Pet friendly on the main level.
Lake Quinault Lodging — restaurant, service, and amenities
The lodge is doing the best it can to move with grace during staffing challenges everywhere in rural parts of the Pacific Northwest. The Roosevelt Dining Room kitchen prepares tasty food that is actually worthy of the very high prices — all with lake view elegance. The restaurant is famous for catering to FDR during his visit in 1937 (which led to the park’s formation in 1938).
From the dinner menu try the sinfully hearty Sasquatch Burger or my favorite, the wonderful salmon meal. For pre-hike foraging in the morning, I love the Quinault Breakfast Scramble. The check-in staff can help with reservations, which are recommended for dinner.
The lobby bar is usually open between 3-9 pm, just depending on demand, and typically offers a limited selection of yummy pizzas and snacks. A coffee canteen is featured in the mornings in the lobby near the bar.
The enclave around the peaceful lake is known as Amanda Park, which hosts a few small restaurants and stores, including a gas station, for the local population. Service hours and dietary options are limited. The Salmon House, part of Rain Forest Resort Village, just a short jaunt down the road from the lodge, has great food and a beautiful view out to the lake. At the time of this writing, take-out is the only option.
The gift shop shares space with the hotel check-in staff, who are friendly and eager to help. Peruse a generous assortment of National Park paraphernalia, including the beautiful Olympic National Park version of the Pendleton blanket series. Some simple snacks are also available for purchase.
Quinault Mercantile is a few steps from the front door of the lodge and feels like stepping back 100 years in time to bygone days when local general stores were king. Think camping supplies and convenience store food.
If a swim sounds good after a big day of hiking nearby peaks — and the lake feels too frigid — head down to an indoor pool complex (jacuzzi as well as saunas in each dressing room area.)
Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards are great for exploring the tranquil waters of Lake Quinault. Prices start at $45 for half-day rentals — located on the beach in front of the resort. Check with the front desk for more information on fishing and guided rainforest tours.
I suggest leaning into disconnecting from daily noise — including TVs in the main lodge, email, and social media. There is some form of free guest Wi-Fi that seems to blow with the wind (strongest in the lobby area) and cell service is spotty at best. It’s more effective, and less frustrating, to just detach from the outer world for a spell.
Nature near Lake Quinault Lodge
It’s tempting to snuggle up on one of the stuffed leather couches facing the roaring fire with a book while soaking up the powerful energy of the Lake Quinault Lodge perched over the lake. But access to nature is perfectly situated on all sides of the iconic lodge.
There are maps available near the gift shop, so be sure to venture out to a few of the trails — short or long, easy or more challenging. The 8 miles of interconnected trails literally on the doorstep of the lodge make it easy to customize — the forest and lake converge to serve up a soul-nourishing nature rainforest wonderland.
- Quick and easy: The succinct Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop (.5 mile) offers an amazing glimpse into the rich ecosystem of old-growth timber, waterfalls, and babbling creeks — mere steps from a convenient parking lot and a nearby campground.
- Moderate: The Rain Forest Nature Trail naturally flows within the Quinault Loop Trail, which can be customized between 3-8 miles of mixed terrain and outstanding diversity of scenery. The 3+ mile version starts and stops at the lodge, and I prefer going in the counter-clockwise direction.
- Longer: The 8-mile version of the Quinault Loop Trail includes a fascinating look at the cross-section of an ancient downed douglas fir and two additional waterfalls that include Gatton Creek Falls. It’s possible to link up to the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce tree — although this is also easily accessible by driving on South Shore Road.
While the hikes mentioned above are adjacent to Lake Quinault Lodge in the Olympic National Forest, there are a number of great hikes within the Olympic National Park that range from easy to very difficult, and offer mossy goodness akin to the much busier Hoh Rainforest. The lodge staff is eager to provide you with all the information.
A great way to learn the lay of the land is the loop drive around the lake. Watch elk roam in wide grassy meadows while the sun shines beyond a high mountain top. Pass through patches of moss-lined maple trees protected by proud tall firs that create a vast canopy of life for forest creatures. Either direction will please and the loop takes about an hour when the roads are clear. Add much more time in snowy conditions.
Day trip options from Lake Quinault Lodge
The southwestern corner of the Olympic National Park is the least developed area of the peninsula in terms of attractions and places to eat or stay. Lake Quinault Lodge is perfect for passing through with an assortment of activities in and around the lake. If a beach experience is desired, consider these two easy day trips.
- Kalaloch and Tree of Life are popular destinations on a beach area in the National Park that don’t require fees. Camping and beach access is near the famous Tree of Life. Enjoy wide-open spaces to wander with salty air blowing. The restaurant at the lodge serves the best food in that stretch, if not the only food. About 45 minutes driving in each direction.
- Ruby Beach offers postcard-worthy views of the surf, rocks, and drifting logs. Access is easy from Highway 101 and then a short but steep hike down toward the water areas. Be careful on the large logs as they can sometimes shift — which makes the hike not advisable for people with limited mobility. 50 minutes driving in each direction. (Note: at the time of this writing July 2022, Ruby Beach is closed for renovations. I suggest visiting Kalaloch Beach 4 instead.)
Olympic National Park lodges
The Olympic National Park was officially established on June 29, 1938, a year after Franklin Roosevelt’s famous visit to the already established Lake Quinault Lodge. Over time, the park grew to include several unique lodges that remain great options for an overnight adventure on the Olympic Peninsula. Below are additional articles about my favorite places to stay in this area.
- Lake Crescent Lodge
- Washington Coastline places to stay
- Favorite unique hotels in the Pacific Northwest
Olympic Peninsula — weather and planning
The Olympic Peninsula is a temperate rainforest famous for wet weather any time of year, so always have a strong waterproof outer shell on hand. If hiking is planned be prepared with waterproof boots and/or hiking shoes. Take layers, especially because early mornings any time of year can be cool, opening up to warmer afternoons and evenings. Once the sun sets the usual is back to hoodie conditions.
The area particularly Lake Quinault seems to have a colder micro-climate, so between October and April be sure to have winter clothing (gloves, boots, and hats) on hand just in case. The Pacific Northwest doesn’t present obvious heat and beach-like conditions, but the sun still has power, especially in the summer around the lake. Be mindful of the rays and be sure to wear sunscreen and take plenty of water if planning longer hikes.
As for fees, the Olympic National Park is $30 per car pass which is valid for a seven-day period. The Olympic Annual Pass (valid for Olympic National Park for a 12-month period) is $55 and for America the Beautiful, for all National Parks, the annual pass is $80. It’s easy to purchase upon arrival but other options, including the complete fee structure, are located on the NPS website. Keep in mind that there are no park fees in the area around Lake Quinault but places like Hoh Rain Forest and Hurricane Ridge require entrance fees.
Interactive map of things to do on the Olympic Peninsula
This map is a collection of my favorites on the Olympic Peninsula. I’ve either been to all the places, or have it in good faith they are worthy of a mention.
Remember, in this region of Oregon cell phone service is unpredictable — just depending on the carrier — plan ahead.
These suggestions are my own point of view — I do not receive compensation for placement on the map or written articles unless specifically noted.
Have more planning questions?