Top 20 Washington State Trips

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is a pristine, wilderness lake in the Olympic National Park.

Swim, kayak or relax on the shores of this glacially carved lake, just 3 hours from Seattle, and 30 minutes west of Port Angeles. 

To get to Lake Crescent from Seattle, take the Bainbridge Island Ferry then drive north-west for 1.5 hours, and take the turn-off to Lake Crescent Lodge on Highway 101.

Stay at the charming adults-only Lake Crescent Lodge built in 1914, with sweeping lake views, or the kid friendly cottages next door.

The waterfront Log Cabin Resort is another 8 miles down the road, and has cabins, RV hook-ups and campsites. Camp at the Fairholme Campground at the West End of Lake Crescent, with a general store that has kayak, canoe or paddleboard rentals, or hang out at the lovely beach at its day use area.

Swimming: Lake Crescent can drop below 50 degrees and there is risk of hypothermia if you stay too long in the water. The lake is incredibly deep, with an average depth of 300 feet (91 meters), and a maximum depth is 624 feet (190 meters).

10 best things to do at Lake Crescent

1. Visit the historic Lake Crescent Lodge (summer only).

The Lake Crescent Lodge is listed on the National Register for Historic Places, and only one of two vintage lodges still standing on the shores of Lake Crescent. Stay overnight or spend a few hours there. Enjoy a drink at the bar beside the magnificent stone fireplace in the lobby, relax in the lakeside sunroom, or dine at the restaurant.

The lodge is only open late May through October, and guests must be over 18 for overnight stays, due to the shared bathrooms. There's no TV, and limited Internet access in the lobby only (make a reservation).

Back in the day the hotel was known as the Lake Crescent Tavern, and attracted affluent guests who played tennis and croquet, attended black tie dinners in the dining room, and danced the night away in the sunroom. President Roosevelt was amongst the most notable guests, visiting in 1937.

Step outside Lake Crescent Lodge to stroll along the pebbly beach, or sit in a deck chair and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to the gentle sound of the water lapping. 

The Lake Crescent Lodge also has a pier, with kayak, canoe and paddle-board rentals, and kayak and boat tours.

Lake Crescent can drop below 50 degrees, so usually too cold for swimming.

The end of the pier is a great vantage point to observe the unusually clear depths of this lake.  The lack of nitrogen in the water inhibits the growth of algae, contributing to the pristine water quality of the lake.  

2. Book a cosy cottage (summer & winter weekends).

Kids are permitted to stay at the cottages adjacent to the Lake Crescent Lodge, available during summer and on winter weekends (however, the main lodge is closed over winter, so you wont be able to access the restaurant there).

There are two sets of cottages to choose from, both with 1 or 2 bedrooms. The waterfront Roosevelt Fireplace Cottages are next to the Lake Crescent Lodge, and listed on the National Register for Historic Places. These charming cottages were constructed in 1915, and have beautiful stone fireplaces and wood paneled interiors. They are the most popular accommodation at Lake Crescent (make a reservation). The Singer Tavern Cottages (pictured) also have 1 or 2 bedrooms, but a more contemporary interior.  

The beach outside the cottages is a popular place to hang out, where kids can play with sand toys.

3. Check-in at the Log Cabin Resort (summer only).

Stay at the lakefront Log Cabin Resort on East Beach Road, 8 miles down the road from the Lake Crescent Lodge. The Log Cabin Resort has lodge rooms, chalets, log cabins, RV sites and tent camping. Stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the cafe, or grab-and-go items at the lakeside deli (make a reservation, open late May through late September).

4. Enjoy the stunning beach and picnic area at Fairholme Campground (spring & summer only).

The Olympic National Park's Fairholme Campground is located at the West End of Lake Crescent, with RV hook-ups and campsites in a wooded area, with picnic tables, fire rings and access to flushable toilets (but no showers).

The day use area has a beautiful beach with picnics tables and a pier. Stop by the general store at the Fairholme Campground for snacks, or rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard.

This is a first come first served campground with no reservations system, open late April through late September.

5. Book a boat tour of breathtaking Lake Crescent (1.5 hours).

Boat tours depart from the Lake Crescent Lodge Dock and last for 1.5 hours. You can pay at the front desk of the Lake Crescent Lodge (check rates & schedule, summer only).

Learn about the history and geology of the glacially carved Lake Crescent, surrounded by impressive mountains like Mountain Storm King (4,534 feet) on the east, Aurora Peak on the south (4,750 feet), and Pyramid Mountain (3,089 feet) on the north, with vast forests that rise up to meet these peaks. The tour also includes fascinating stories about the Phantom Forest and Spruce Railroad Tunnels, in an area rich with history.

6. Take a guided kayak trip (2 hours).

Take a 2 hour guided kayak tour of Lake Crescent, departing from the Lake Crescent Lodge (check rates & schedule, summer only).

7. Rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard.

Kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals are available at the Lake Crescent Lodge, or Fairholme Campground General Store (summer only).  When out on the water, bring your fishing gear and plunge your line into the crystal clear waters of Lake Crescent. Don't forget to always wear a lifejacket (check hourly, half day and full day rates).

8. Hike to beautiful Marymere Falls.

The 1.5-mile roundtrip to scenic Marymere Falls leaves from nearby Storm King Ranger Station, about a 10 minute walk east of the Lake Crescent Lodge. Pass through old growth forest and across a footbridge to the 90-foot falls.

The moss-laden trail passes through beautiful old growth forest.

Deer sightings are common along the way.

90-foot Marymere Falls soon comes into view.

9. Take an easy stroll along the Moments in Time trail.

The 0.8-mile Moments in Time trailhead is also accessible from the Storm King Ranger Station or Lake Crescent Lodge.  Enjoy a leisurely walk through a wooded area along the sparkling waters of the Lake Crescent shoreline.

10. See Punchbowl Pool along the Spruce Railroad Trail.

The paved 5-mile Spruce Railroad Trail, travels along the north shore of Lake Crescent. It follows the former Port Angeles Western Railroad line constructed during WWI to transport wood from Sitka Spruce trees for bi-planes.  

The main highlight along this trail is the pedestrian bridge across the enchanting Punchbowl Pool.  You can also glimpse the exterior of two railroad tunnels (closed to the public), see breathtaking views of the 4,500 foot Mt Storm King, hike along forty foot cliffs, and stroll down to the beach at many access points.

Nearby things to do at Lake Crescent

Combine a visit to Lake Crescent with a driving tour of the Top 10 Attractions at the Olympic National Park.

Review this attraction