Top 20 Washington State Trips

Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Quinault Lodge has a spectacular location overlooking Lake Quinault in southwest Washington State, on the edge of a temperate rainforest.

It was built in 1926, in the National Park rustic style, similar to other great lodges like Crater Lake Lodge, and Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone.

The lodge retains much of its historic charm, with a grand lobby, lakeside restaurant, indoor pool, games room, and views of the picturesque lake.

The land surrounding the lake is under different ownership. The southern shore where the lodge is located is owned by the U.S. Forest Service and is part of the Olympic National Forest, whereas the northern shore forms part of the Olympic National Park. Finally, the western shore is owned by the Quinault Tribal Nation, who also have ownership of the lake up to its high water line.  

Best time to visit: Lake Quinault is surrounded by temperate rainforest, and on average receives about 12 feet of rain per year, so the best time to visit is during the dry season from April to September. Always check road conditions.

Ranger stations: There are two different ranger stations where you can pick up maps and get information, run by either the Olympic National Forest office (southern shore) or Olympic National Park (northern shore).

10 best things to do at Lake Quinault Lodge

1. Book a room just steps from the lake!

Choose from four main lodging options at the Lake Quinault Lodge, all renovated and with their own private bathroom.  

  • Main Lodge (1926) has historic rooms overlooking the lake and forest, but no TV.
  • Boat House/Annex (1923) is north of the lodge, and is the only building that allows pets, with 8 pet friendly vintage rooms on the main floor encircled by a veranda, but no TV. The luxury Beverly Suite upstairs has 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, TV and gorgeous views, but no pets allowed. 
  • Fireplace Rooms (1970s) are south of the lodge in a newer building, with a lovely stone fireplace, TV, mini-fridge and patio.
  • Lakeside Rooms (1990s) are north of the lodge in a building closest to the water, and are the most contemporary option. They also have a TV and patio.

This is the Boat House/Annex, with the stunning Beverly Suite upstairs.

2. Hang out by the cosy fireplace in the grand lobby.

Find a cosy space near the fire in the grand lobby, read a book, enjoy a beverage, and soak up the incredible atmosphere. There are lots of black and white photos on the wall, explaining how the Lake Quinault Lodge was constructed in just 53 days in 1926. Teams worked on rotating 12 hour shifts to beat the upcoming winter rain.  The lobby is full of unique details, like giant fir beams decorated with Mayan motifs, and the head of a Roosevelt Elk above the fireplace.

The first hotel was constructed at this site in 1903, after settlers began moving into the Quinault Valley in the 1890s.  It was a simple, log building, but unfortunately burned down in 1924. A local lumber magnate then commissioned the building of the Boat House/Annex. Guests flocked to the resort to enjoy alcohol on the floating dance hall outside, skirting 1920s prohibition laws because the lake was owned by the Quinault Indians. More space was needed for guests, and so the main lodge was constructed in 1926, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3. Eat a delicious meal at the Roosevelt Dining Room.

The Roosevelt Dining Room is steeped in history, and played host to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.  This visit was instrumental in Roosevelt's decision to sign a bill creating the Olympic National Park nine months later.  You can even see what meal Roosevelt ate on that auspicious day! The restaurant serves all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sample the house smoked Pacific Salmon, or Quinault Clam Chowder for dinner, or yummy pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Sit on the lovely patio outside the restaurant, with sweeping lake views across the expansive lawns.

4. Rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard (seasonal only)

Kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals are available in late spring and summer at the Lake Quinault Lodge. You can stop by the front desk or beach hut for more information, but the rates are very affordable!

Kayak or canoe through the pristine, glacially carved waters of Lake Quinault, 3.8 miles wide, with 12 miles of forested shoreline. Wildlife spottings are common, like osprey, bald eagles and otters.

This gorgeous lake is fed by glacial run-off from the Olympic Mountains, that flows through the Upper Quinault River into the lake.

It can get pretty windy out on the lake in the afternoon, so always dress accordingly, and wear a life jacket.

5. Relax or play games on the lawned area at Lake Quinault Lodge.

Lake Quinault Lodge has a huge lawned area that runs all the way down to the beach and lake, with tables and chairs for relaxing and taking in the gorgeous surroundings.  It's also a great vantage point to see the back of the lodge, framed by towering Sitka Spruce, Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees. Kids can run about the lawn, with free games like corn hole, bocce balls and horseshoes.

Don't forget to check out the totem pole rain guage, prominently featured on the chimney, that measures rain in feet, not inches!  This area can get 12 feet of rain a year, sometimes even up to 14 feet.

6. Take a boat tour around Lake Quinault (seasonal only)

Book a boat tour around Lake Quinault to learn about the unique flora, fauna and history. Choose from sunrise, afternoon and sunset lake tours, usually around 2 hours long (summer only).  The tours can be booked at the front desk of the Lake Quinault Lodge, and leave from the dock on the beach.

7. Hang out on the sandy beach.

The water temperature is super chilly at Lake Quinault, because it's a glacially fed lake. Only the most hardy souls will brave these waters, however there's lots of fun to be had on the sandy shoreline. There are no lifeguards at Lake Quinault, so you swim at your own risk.

8. Visit the swimming pool or sauna.

It's very unusual to find a historic lodge with amenities like a swimming pool or sauna, so this is a real treat at Lake Quinault Lodge.  The heated indoor swimming pool is in the main building, inside a charming, wood paneled room. 

9. Hang out in the fun games room.

Kids will love the games room at the Lake Quinault Lodge, with a ping pong table, pool table, foosball table and board games.

10. Roast s'mores at the resort's firepit.

Spend your evenings beside the firepit at the Lake Quinault Lodge, looking out at the stunning lake while toasting s'mores. S'mores kits can be purchased at the gift shop.

11. Visit the museum.

The Lake Quinault Museum (354 S Shore Road) is a short distance down the road from the lodge, housed in the old post office. The museum packs in a lot of information on the local area, especially the brave homesteaders who moved to this area in the late 1800s and battled difficult conditions to start a new life. There's also two 20-foot Native American racing canoes on the main floor.

12. See the world's largest Sitka Spruce Tree.

The world's largest Sitka Spruce Tree is 1.2 miles up the road from Lake Quinault Lodge, near the Rain Forest Resort. It has an 58 foot circumference, and is over 1,000 years old!  The Quinault Valley is home to five of the biggest conifers in the world, and is known as the "Valley of the Rain Forest Giants". If you'd like to find the exact location of these champion trees, pick up a brochure at the general store at the Rain Forest Resort.

13. Hike the South Shore Trails, including the "Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop".

There's a convenient network of trails directly behind the Lake Quinault Lodge, that form part of the Olympic National Forest. You can pick up a map at the Olympic National Forest office (353 S Shore Road), and talk to a ranger about the best trails.

The most popular trail on the south shore of Lake Quinault, is the half mile Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop, 0.8 miles south of the lodge. This short Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop meanders past creeks and waterfalls in a lush rainforest setting. There's visible evidence of earlier logging along many of the other south shore trails, like the Cascade Falls Loop and Gatton Creek Falls Trail, but this short trail has a natural landscape that seems more intact.

Look up at the incredible Douglas Fir along the Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop.

The highlight of the Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop is the enchanting set of cascades.

Peer down into the pristine waters that flow through these cascades.

14. Stop by the Salmon House Restaurant.

The Salmon House Restaurant (516 S Shore Road) is one mile up the road from the Lake Quinault Resort, and serves up delicious baked salmon with a waterfront view.

15. Pick up a snack, gift or supplies at the Mercantile.

The Quinault Mercantile (352 S Shore Road) is across the road from the Lake Quinault Lodge, and has a grocery store, souvenirs and cafe.  The cafe serves a lot of comfort food that kids will love, like burgers, pizza, hot dogs and breakfast sandwiches.

16. See two magnificent roadside waterfalls; Merriman Falls & Bunch Falls.

There are two stunning roadside waterfalls, just a short drive along South Shore Road from the Lake Quinault Resort, forming the first part of the loop around the lake.  Unfortunately neither are marked with signs, and only have a basic, roadside pull-out.

The first stop is 30-foot Merriman Falls, which can easily be seen from the road.  From here the road is unsealed and not suitable for RVs or trailers, and even a little challenging for regular cars to drive on. As you enter the Olympic National Park and just before you cross the Lake Quinault Bridge, you'll see the much smaller Bunch Falls. Be careful to stay off the slippery rocks at this falls.

17. Get a photo from the Upper Quinault River Bridge.

The Upper Quinault River Bridge marks the transition from the South Shore Road to the North Shore Road, that loops around Lake Quinault. Take a moment to stop and enjoy the incredible view up the Quinault River from this bridge. The road is unsealed, so be prepared for a bumpy drive.

18. Visit the Kestner Homestead Maple Glade from Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station.

The Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station is inside the Olympic National Park, northeast of Lake Quinault, and has two easy trails.  To get there, drive 10 miles in a clockwise direction around the lake from the Lake Quinault Lodge. If you drive in an anti-clockwise direction, you will encounter a rough, gravel road.

The first trail is to the Kestner Homestead (1.3 miles loop), complete with interpretive information along the way. The Kestner's were some of the first pioneers in the area, losing their home to flooding in the first year. They rebuilt their house in the early 1890s, and those buildings are still standing today. These include a homestead, barn, storage buildings and outbuildings, with the original pastures and orchard surrounded by a historic split-rail fence. It's astounding how these first settlers eked out an existence in such dense, wet rainforest, far away from civilization.

The second trail is the Maple Glade Rain Forest Trail (1.2 mile loop), passing through an otherwordly tract of rain forest, resplendent with maple trees draped in mosses.

19. Do some of the 31-mile driving loop around Lake Quinault.

Many visitors are tempted to drive the 31-loop around the entire lake, but this isn't recommended, because the road around the eastern half of the lake is unsealed and difficult to drive on.  In addition, most of the best attractions are on the South Shore Road (like the Lake Quinault Lodge, Rain Forest Nature Loop Trail, Lake Quinault Museum, World's Largest Sitka Spruce Tree, and Merriman Falls). The only attractions worth visiting on the North Shore Road are the two easy hikes from the Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station.

20. Book a 4-hour Rainforest Tour in a shuttle bus.

The 4-hour Rainforest Tour leaves from the Lake Quinault Lodge, and transports visitors around the lake in a shuttle. The expert guide provides fascinating insight into the local history of the area, and takes you to the best spots for photos. Book here.

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