Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lodges of the Olympic Peninsula: Three Stops Worth Making

With the current state of the economy limiting our spending dollars, people from Washington's Olympic Peninsula are lucky to have local treasures within driving distance. People from all over come to visit the area's wilderness and unspoiled beauty. This past week, I had the chance to travel the Olympic Peninsula when I was invited to review some of its top lodges: The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Kalaloch Lodge, and Lake Quinault Lodge.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort:

The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is an enjoyable stay with lots to do, and a happy, friendly staff that makes you feel at home.
"Sol Duc" is a native American term for sparkling water. Olympic National Park water comes directly and untreated from the hot springs on the property.
According to maintenance manager Ron Dahl, there's a fissure that runs through the Olympic National Park and comes out in three places: up in the Olympic Mountains, at the resort, and under the straight of Juan De Fuca.
What is a hot springs?
Dahl, who has worked at Sol Duc for 38 years, explained that rainwater will fall into a fissure(nobody knows where this fissure is), go down and touch molten rock, and come back up hot, usually at about 120 degrees.
He showed me behind a fenced-off area and opened a large wooden trap door, where, 10 feet below, you could see the bubbling mineral water from the springs.
While staying in one of Sol Ducs cabins, you can relax in one of the pools, eat at the restaurant-which is deceptively simple -- although the food is anything but that, serving specialties such as cedar plank salmon and seafood pasta chowder -- and take a magnificent walk to the Sol Duc falls.
The Sol Duc has closed for the winter season but will reopen in March.

Kalaloch Lodge:

My next stop was the Kalaloch Lodge.
Right off of Highway 101, the wooden lodge sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean and a giant, windswept beach, a fort - building boy's dream.You can stay in the lodge or choose one of the cabins near the bluff.
In comparison to the other lodges that are very busy, the Kalaloch is a place for solitude, with no towns or cellphone reception for miles around.
But even with the simplicity, at the end of the day you can walk on the beach with seagulls on the water's edge, enjoy the view at the restaurant, and warm up by the cabin's fireplaces.
The Kalaloch is open year - round.

Lake Quinault Lodge:

The last stop was the Lake Quinault Lodge. It was built in the 1920's and gives you the feeling of long ago. The dining room overlooks a large, manicured lawn leading down to the lake, and the lobby is very cozy with sofas surrounding a giant fireplace. There's a warm indoor pool, a game room, a sauna, and trails in every direction. In the evening, you can stand on the beach and witness a beautiful sunset. If you drive past the lodge, you can take a short walk to the largest spruce tree in the world, and drive through the Quinault Valley, past fields and old farmhouses where elk are frequently seen, alongside the Quinault river, and an occasional waterfall.
The lodge's staff has many nice people who seem to love their juob.
From renting a canoe to use in the lake, to hiking in unspoiled wilderness, to reading by the fire, it is a place to make good memories.
The lodge is open year - round.