If you're really lucky like we were a few days ago, it won't be raining and the sun might even be shining (however, it rained over 163 inches there last year). But no matter, this comfortable lodge, voted one of the best places to kiss in the Pacific Northwest, is a great place to relax any time. Set on the shore of glacially formed Lake Quinault and in the midst of some of the biggest trees on the planet in a temperate rainforest, the lodge and surroundings feel like an enchanted world apart.
When we were there a few nights ago (midweek), the place had a decidedly off-season feeling. After driving 3 hours south from Seattle and looping back north up the coast from Grays Harbor, we arrived before dark on a cold, clear January afternoon.
Our second-floor walk-up room was quite nice, with some of the most comfy hotel beds I've ever encountered in my travels. Once we got settled and made dinner reservations in the hotel dining room, I strolled from the lodge deck across the lawn down to the lakeside to witness a truly spectacular sunset. (The photos below don't fully capture the intensity of the colors.)
|Lake Quinault sunset, looking west|
|Looking across the lake from the lodge|
And that fireplace! Big logs of wood crackled away, casting a glowy warmth beneath the head of a native Roosevelt elk.
|Guest relaxing in one of many generous leather chairs in main hall|
|Quilcene River steelhead|
In the frosty morning we walked one of the many nearby trails. From the lodge we went down to the lake and followed a 1.1-mile route along the shoreline, skirting into forest, over a few streams, up to the rainforest loop above the lake, where moss grows thick and heavy on old growth evergreen trees such as Douglas fir and western red cedar. A beauty of a winter visit: we saw no other hikers.
|Lake Quinault morning along the lakeside trail.|
|Rainforest loop trail|
A few guests we met were here for several nights to recharge, relax, and take stock for the year ahead. Sounds like a plan for next winter; there are simply too many trails and things to see around here for one night. Nothing like maximizing the enchantment, right?
Have you spent time at Lake Quinault? I've love to hear about your experiences there in the comments below, especially if you've done more extensive hiking in the area.
When You Go
This map shows where Lake Quinault is situated just off Highway 101 north of Grays Harbor. It's about a 3-hour drive from Seattle going the southern route. I suggest making a loop and circling north up Highway 101 along the coastline past gorgeous beaches, Lake Crescent, and then east along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. However, it's a bit much for one night so take a few days or more if you can.
To lure visitors in the off season, rates are 25 to 40 percent or more lower than in the summer. I suggest doing a Google search for deal. I bought a Groupon that covered my stay.