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ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
176 posts
42 reviews
ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

I could really use the help of the experts and recent visitors. My family of 4 (2 teens) arrives SeaTac 11 am, Wed July 25. We are active and coming for the hiking, nature and anything unique or local that we stumble upon. We have 9 nights to be split between ONP, Mt. Rainier and Seattle. 2 nights in Seattle and rest in the Parks - 3 to 4 nights in ONP. We are flexible on type of place to stay and are early risers. ONP must hike are the beaches, Hoh rain forest and/or Quinalt and some other day hikes that show diverse ecosytems. We like to knock out a day hike, relax with a meal and then catch sunsets an/or wildlife at the end of the day. Please help with these questions:

1) Due to weekend crowds, am I better starting in ONP or Mt Rainier? For example, If I arrived ONP Wed and left late morning Sunday for Mt. Ranier and ended with our last 2 nights in Seattle, would that be best way to manage weekend crowds and traffic?

2) Are we better off spitting up lodging at ONP between 2 places like Kaloch lodge and Lake Crescent or staying at one place like a VRBO rental in one of the towns on the perimeter. I know we are late to the game for reservations but this trip just came together

3) What are our best lodging options in or around ONP? . As much as we like creature comforts and nice food, I think we would go down a class or two if the place we stayed gave us a great start for hikes and was away from a theme park type environment. Since we are only here a short time and it is such a cool place, we are not really concerned as much about cost as usual.

4) Sol Du Luc Hot Springs - it intrigued me at first but then the reviews painted the picture in my mind of a run down water theme park. What are your thoughts? I have seen VRBO places on creeks that seem so natural and inviting.

5) Any information you could offer whether to enter and leave the park clockwise or counter if we do the Wed - Sun option would be appreciated. Note - coming from SeaTac on Wed and going to Mt Rainier leaving late morning Sunday.

Thanks so much to all of the great TA experts and advisors - you have helped us really enjoy all of our National Park trips!

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,750 posts
8 reviews
1. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

Mt. Rainier is where you want to avoid visiting on weekends. Olympic is much larger and therfore the crowds and traffic spread out more. So start by heading for Port Angeles. In my opinion one base means too much driving and backtracking. For me it wastes valueble time to hike. I also hate getting stuck behind motorhomes in the Summer doing this. I got stuck behind three at lake Crescent last weekend and it took forever to get past them. Many do not pull over to let you pass. You want to experience the three ecos, than Port angeles is the easiest and quickest way to the mountains. this is where Kaleberg lives, so I will defer to him on the Hurrican Ridge area.

Nowhere on the Penninsula are you going to find a theme park atmosphere. This is logging country and National Park. I personally do not like Sol Duc Hot Springs. It is three pools (one a swimming pool) with lots of kids. In cold weather maybe. I have not seen the inside of the cabins for years. they used to be kind of rustic. I hiked to Deer Lake last weekend, and the resort was very crowded. Sol Duc Falls just beyond is worth a visit, and Deer Lake is a good hike. Just be aware I find it rockier than many hikes in the Park. Otherwise a pretty easy hike. If you can still get a reservation at Lake Crescent Lodge (doubtfull) that would be my preference over staying in Port Angeles. Then it really depends where you want to spend most of your time hiking. Mountains, beach or rainforest. If you do not want to cook in or over a grill then Forks may not be for you. Personally being in the Olympics sitting around a campfire and cooking on a grill is what I prefer. Two places where you can do that are Huckelberry Lodge and Cabins at Beaver Creek. Both terrific places to stay. Beaver Creek sits on the Sol Duc River, but is a litlle further from the Hoh and the beaches. Google Forks chamber of Commerce. the Quilleute River Resort is also nice. There are other good options. Three Rivers Resort near the beaches has good burgers and shakes for a meal at the Ocean. Rialto Beach and Second Beach is where you want to explore. Second involves a short hike. Rialto is easy to get to and leave for a great sunset.

One could easilly spend a whole day at the Hoh Rainforest. check out the Hall of Mosses and then hike the easy main river trail as far as you like and then retrace your walk. have luch on the river. The very best time to see wildlife is dawn and dusk. This is rainforest so animals are easily camouflaged. Elk graze in the Hoh campground on the grasses early in the morning and just outside the Park in fields at dusk. Great times to be more to yourselves, but bring a flashlight and do not hike in the dark.

Kalaloch in my opinion is too far from everything else. I love Lake Quinault, but you really should have another day to make it worthwhile. Google Quinault Rainforest. Even though other then the short drive along the coast driving South and then East is boring it is the way to then get to Rainier.

Bismarck, North...
Level Contributor
260 posts
49 reviews
2. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

I am doing the about the same itinerary as you only the week before. Here is some of the advise I got.

tripadvisor.com/…37548781

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,816 posts
20 reviews
3. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

Excellent post from Glaciermeadow, absolutely spot on. ONP is about as far from a theme park atmosphere as one could imagine. It is one of the wildest, least developed of our national parks. In fact, the lack of development can actually be a bit of a problem, as there is a limited tourism infrastructure here. There are few good food choices west of Port Angeles, for example, and the motels, even in Port Angeles, are mediocre at best. Your best bets when visiting ONP are either a vacation rental or the small number of national park concessions. Of the latter, the best are Lake Quinault Lodge and Lake Crescent Lodge. Unfortunately, you are coming at the height of the season, and I am not sure that you could rent a house for less than a week at this time of year. The best places have been booked up for a while. Try for Lake Crescent Lodge, but it, too, may be booked. In Port Angeles itself, the best motel is the Olympic Lodge, which is nothing special but comfortable and well run.

Try not to stay in a motel in Forks. The awful food and the rather depressing atmosphere can put a damper on a trip. Forks' only virtue is that it is the closest town to the Hoh RF. Near Forks, you could try Huckleberry Lodge, as Glaciermeadow suggests, or the Quillayute River Resort, or the Oceanside Side Resort in LaPush. If you choose that last, book one of the newer, more expensive cabins, not one of the old one.

For trail descriptions, tide tables, pictures, and general information about the northern half of the park, look at www.kaleberg.com. You haven't described your fitness level, but it sounds as if you are all serious about hiking, so I would suggest a subset of the following hikes:

1. The River Trail at the Hoh RF - hike the 10 mile round trip to 5 Mile Island and back. Bring a packed lunch and eat it on the backs or the sandbars of the Hoh River. This is an easy hike but unforgettable.

2. Hurricane Hill Trail at Hurricane Ridge - only 90 minutes with an elevation gain of 700 feet, but gorgeous beyond belief. The wildflowers are incredible. If you are made of stronger stuff, take the The Switchback Trail up to Klahane Ridge, about 2 hours round trip with an elevation gain of 1450 feet. Note: Hurricane Ridge is one of the few places in the park that gets crowded. Try to get up there by 10:00 am at the latest. Even though you are going to Mt. Rainier, don't miss the Hurricane Ridge trails. They are completely different.

3. Second Beach - everyone goes to Rialto Beach, which is also a beauty. Try Second Beach, but arrive at the trail head 40 minutes to 1 hour before low tide so you can see the little sea cave and the hidden coves.

4. Cape Alava - take the 9.2 mile round trip Cape Alava/Sand Pt. hike. This hike will make you feel you are at the edge of the world, BUT YOU MUST KNOW YOUR TIDES! Arrive at the trail head 2 hours before low tide. If you blow it, you may find yourself having to bushwack up and down steep, nettle covered bluffs. This is an amazing hike, so do consider it.

5. Sol Duc Falls and beyond - the hike to the falls is easy. You can then continue up to Deer Lake, a 1600 ft. elevation gain. It's beautiful up there, but as Glacier says, the trail is a bit rocky, so the feet can get a little sore on the way down.

There are many other choices,but this should whet your appetite.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,750 posts
8 reviews
4. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

Thanks Kaleberg glad you concur. I must admit I had not been to Deer lake in many years. I admit my legs are not what they ysed to be, but I was surprised how rocky most of the trail is. made for slow going, but boy did we have fun. My wife took some fantastic photos including closeups of the incredible fauna. I will post some this weekend. There is alot of snow around the lake, but it is like Eden right now with the vegetation and waterfalls. I have never seen so much bunchberry. A few lilies along the trail.

Texas
Level Contributor
182 posts
60 reviews
5. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

You are wise to plan for 3 days in ONP. We just returned from our trip, and only had time for 2 days there, and definitely wish we had had 3! Kaleberg and glaciermeadow will not steer you wrong; my ONP tour was based on their advice. We stayed at Lake Crescent Lodge and absolutely loved it. Enjoyed using the trailhead to Marymere Falls right on the property. And it is so relaxing to sit by the lake as the sun sets. We enjoyed Rialto Beach, even though we weren't able to be there at low tide. It was still good hiking and nature. You will definitely want to have a small cooler with groceries. Other than the Lake Crescent Lodge, we only saw 1 restaurant past Port Angles (not counting Forks!). We picked up groceries at a wonderful little market-Red Rooster- in Sequim.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,750 posts
8 reviews
6. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

Thank you TX for the kind remarks.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,816 posts
20 reviews
7. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

Red Rooster is much loved here. So glad you enjoyed your trip.

Bismarck, North...
Level Contributor
260 posts
49 reviews
8. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

Kaleberg - Can you recommend a place to buy a cheap cooler in PA?

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,816 posts
20 reviews
9. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

I would go to one of the 2 Rite Aids.

10. Re: ONP Logistics and Lodging Help

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