Misty Lake Quinault offers soothing respite from the road
Travelers enjoy a misty rest stop at Olympic Peninsula's historical Lake Quinault Lodge.
Lake Quinault Lodge is at 345 S. Shore Road in Quinault, two miles off Highway 101 in Grays Harbor County. 800-562-6672 or www.visitlakequinault.com.
LAKE QUINAULT — The fog seems to float atop Lake Quinault, and a bird's forlorn screech reinforces the ghostly aura as we check into Lake Quinault Lodge.
Here in the southwest corner of Olympic National Park, we're in the middle of the Quinault Rain Forest, and even when the drops aren't falling, fog and mist envelop the lake, holding it in soft focus.
The constant moisture here (annual rainfall often hits 400 inches) feeds the foliage well, so it's deep green, with bright moss hanging from some of the huge Douglas firs, Sitka spruces and red cedars.
It's a magical and mysterious place, and we're glad we chose it for our stop halfway down the Olympic Peninsula on our way from British Columbia to Oregon.
Cellphones don't work here, of course, and neither does the lodge's wireless — on this particular day, anyway. Overall, the escape from texts and tweets is a good thing. Still, I do have to check in with work, so I run across the road to Kelsey's Cafe inside the Quinault Mercantile general store, where I enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate and free wireless.
Then I pack up the computer and stow it in our room, which is the perfect blend of rustic (wood beams and a fireplace) and refined (the excellent bed). The hotel's main lodge was built in 1926 and has 24 rooms. Our room is one of 60 others in nearby buildings surrounding the lake. November rates start at $113.
The Quinault area has more than 250 miles of hiking trails, so before dinner, we decide to amble just a few of those miles, not caring if it decides to rain. It does, lightly, as we pass the edge of the lake, where a camping guide is talking to a couple of small boys.
"We just saw an osprey and an eagle," the guide tells us.
After the hike, we're ready for a glass of wine, which we buy from a small wine room in the hotel lobby, where about a dozen people are raptly listening to a woman tell Native American stories.
We take our wine outside and park at a table with an umbrella so we can continue to admire the lake and the woods as a soft rain falls.
Lake Quinault Lodge's Roosevelt Dining Room (named for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who visited the hotel in 1937) is well known for its fine food. It's expensive, though, so we decide to grab a sack of burgers from Kelsey's and eat them in our room, where we can continue to gaze at the lake. Maybe it's fog magic or maybe it's just good grease, but this is one of the best cheeseburgers I've ever eaten. Lake Quinault is, we agree, the perfect respite from a long road trip.