After some research on visiting Olympic National Park we decided that the area of Forks would be a good place to stay. From here most places we want to visit can be reached within an hour. First we wanted to stay at the Olson Cabin (Mora Cabin #1) which is near Rialto Beach but sadly enough it was already fully booked for the dates that we could stay. We found Jim's Cabin Rentals and it looked decent, good enough for sleeping and have a meal. We contacted Jim and asked about Cabin 1 where we wanted to stay. The dates were still available and we booked it for 4 nights.
The cabin was one big room with a queen bed, a full kitchen, big table with 4 chairs, small fridge, TV, phone, internet access, some kind of a shower room, bathroom with a sink and toilet and a small loft with a twin mattress accessible with a wooden ladder. All linens and towels are provided. It was a comfortable place to stay, it was clean and neat. The shower looked a bit old, but it was fine to use. Jim himself was a man of little words, but friendly enough to get all the things we needed. He was quite laid back in general, but especially when it came to paying for our stay. We paid on the last day of our stay, he didn't seem to be in a rush to get our payment which is okay. I think this place is probably more popular for those who go for fishing trips.
I probably wouldn't stay here again, but it was good for what we needed. If you just want a place to sleep, wash yourself, be able to cook some at a good price then this might be a good place for you! We paid about $70 US per night for the end of August which is a good deal!
The cabin was clean, neat and had all the things we needed for our stay. It was quiet and surrounded by trees, quite private. We were only about 5km/3mi from Rialto Beach.
There are camping areas all along the rim of Olympic National Park, along with the possibility of wilderness camping in the interior. Some camping areas are summer only. There are also a number of camping areas just outside the park. The photo is at Willoughby Creek just outside the entrance to the Hoh Rain Forest. I did not camp here but wanted to let you know what is available.
Again, we booked this motel based on good Trip Advisor reviews, price, and location to Hoh Rain Forest and some of the Pacific beaches. And again, it's a bargain compared to rates at park accommodations. It's on the new-ish side and had a nice list of amenities: microwave, refrigerator, coffeemaker, hairdryer, wireless net, small patios/balconies, etc. We booked an upstairs king and other than a few stains in the carpet, it was spacious, clean, quiet and pleasant.
Continental breakfast (included) is served in the detached office - a nice spread of bagels, pastries, toast, cereal, fruit, coffee and juices. You eat in a tent on the lawn, or take a tray back to your room.
Operated by nice people who seemed happy that we were there to explore the park vs hunt for vampires (see my "Note about Forks" in my general tips), we'd stay there again in a minute. If you look for reviews on Trip Advisor, for some odd reason this is listed under B&Bs instead of hotels.
Note: if you're a Twilight fan, you can book the red-and-black Bella Suite. To me, it looks a bit more like a bordello than a haven for blood-sucking nocturnals but whatever turns you on. :)
A little more than basic with refrigerators, microwaves and what-not. Clean and well-located to park activities on the west side of the peninsula. Ask for a room on the back side if you want to watch the sunrise!
Port Angeles is a good base for exploring the north side of the park. The Olympic NP Visitor Center and entrance to Hurricane Ridge is right in town, and Elwha (11 miles), Lake Crescent (18 miles) and Sol Duc Valley (about 40 miles - 1 hour ) are reasonably close for day-tripping.
We chose this motel for the price, amenities, and decent reviews on Trip Advisor. It's right on the main drag and nothing fancy but the rooms are large, very clean, and came with a refrigerator and microwave for $75. They said they had trouble with people ripping off hairdryers and coffeemakers so you have to check them out at office but they're free. Breakfast is minimal - coffee, tea, and a tray of bananas, granola bars and pastries on the desk in the office - but enough to get you going. Rooms range from single queen (probably the smallest rooms) to two-bedroom family units with small kitchenettes (no stove), and you can review layouts/rates on the website. We chose a 2nd floor king bed and had lots of room to spread out, good shower with decent water pressure, and didn't hear enough road noise to bother us.
It has its quirks, such as some interesting religious material in the room, but overall was a good, reasonably priced option with all the things we needed and none of the frills we didn't. I'm not sure ALL rooms have a fridge/microwave so check with them when booking, if those are must-haves. All rooms are non-smoking - don't even think about puffing inside or near an open door or window.
The price: excellent compared to National Park accommodations. Somewhat dated but very clean and spacious. The cheerful lady at the office is known for upgrading rooms when possible so be nice to her - you might strike bonus. I'm not giving a PP cost as prices range depending on season and room sizes.
Lunch Lake Campground has to be one of the prettiest in all the National Park system. This pristine lake is fringed by craggy peaks and within a short stroll of countless more. Seven Lakes Basin is a very appropriate name. The spots are well-spaced and due to popularity, highly restricted. You can see some wear and tear but the park does its best to ensure it is not completely ruined by overuse. We lucked out, there was only one other person the night we camped there and we did not see them until the morning we left. It's that spread out.
We got a primo spot, on a small hill, surrounded by trees, with a view of the lake. It was fairly close to the chemical toilet and if it was a busy night at the campground it might not have been as perfect. The bear wire was a fair walk away but with a view like we had, it was well worth the effort. It's about 8 miles and 3000 feet from the Sol Duc Visitor Center so doable in a day even with a backpack but we hiked in from Deer Lake so we only did 4.2 miles and about 1500 feet. You do drop into a bowl to reach Lunch Lake itself so if you are doing day hikes from it, you will be doing a fair amount of climbing in and out of camp. Not that you get tired of the view hiking back down into it!
Olympic National Park's varied terrains make for a unique backcountry experience. One day you can camp in a temperate rainforest and the next you can be in alpine splendor. The High Divide and Seven Lakes Basin is one of the premier backpacking destinations in North America. After our three nights along the Hoh River, we headed over to this area to begin a three day trip. Since we had already done 5 miles out with full packs, we only hiked up to Deer Lake our first night. It was 4 miles and a little more than 1500 feet.
This small lake was another beauty and unlike Elk Lake the night before, we did have a deer join us for dinner. There was a bear wire and very stinky chemical toilet. This is obviously a very popular spot with a lot of traffic and they need to change these receptacles more often. It was possibly the worst toilet we had in six months. Aside from that it was a gorgeous spot and the lake offered an incredible reflection in the morning.
Backcountry camping does not have to be a grueling experience. There are many nice spots close to civilization and offer even families a place to get away from the car camping masses. Some of these are in the very scenic Hoh River area of the park. We stayed at Five Mile Island Campground our last night of three in the Hoh River and found it very pretty. For us, it was a ten mile hike back from Elk Lake but for someone just wanting to spend a night or two here, it would be 5 miles from the Hoh River Visitor Center.
The campground features a bear wire and pit toilet so no need to carry a bear canister or shovel. We found a spot right on the river with a great old stone fire ring. It was a very scenic spot to have our last breakfast of a great four day trip. The hike out to the car was an easy stroll from here.
Olympic's vast backcountry has many choices with regard to where you can pitch your tent. Elk Lake was a very pretty spot about 1500 feet up from the Hoh River with much different vegetation. Though the hike was only 5.5 miles from Olympic Guard station, it was our second day of backpacking and this always seems the toughest.
The campground was not quite as scenic as the ones along the Hoh River but Elk Lake itself was very pretty though we never did see an elk. There was a bear wire and pit toilet, making it unnecessary for us to carry a bear canister or shovel. Be sure to check a backcountry planner for what amenities are at your chosen campgrounds.
This would have been an easy enough day if we had planned an extra day into our schedule but as it was, we had to hike from here up to the Blue Glacier that afternoon as we were hiking back down the next morning. It was another 2.5 miles and 2500 feet up. We had little time to linger at the glacier but it was an incredible sight and we did see it in great light with great sunny weather. Needless to say, we just collapsed in camp after dinner.
Camping in Olympic's vast backcountry is one of the highlights of the park. If able and interested, it is something not to be missed. The Hoh River area is particularly beautiful and does not require a lot of effort to get into. Olympic Guard station was a very scenic campground 10 miles in from the Hoh River Visitor Center. You only pick up 400 feet of elevation but there is a fair amount of up and down along the way. The walk is through an incredibly beautiful and lush rain forest, full of mossy logs and webs of the green stuff extending down from the branches.
The campground featured a bear wire for food storage and a pit toilet. When camping in Olympic's backcountry, check their wilderness planner to see what amenities your chosen campgrounds have. Some along this route require you to carry a bear cannister and to bury your feces. Choose the type experience you are looking for.
This is an area you could easily hike into as a destination in itself but by continuing, you will see first hand up close the many different terrains that are Olympic National Park.
The Elwha is a beautiful watershed in Olympic National Park and a favorite amongst locals for fishing. While it lacks the spectacular sights found elsewhere it is a very pretty place to pitch your tent. Set up along the Elwha River and close to Lake Mills, there's no shortage of scenic beauty.
Two campgrounds are nestled back in this densely forested area. Elwha and Altair are both relatively small campgrounds of 40 and 30 spots respectively with the later having some right on the river. Obviously, the river spots go pretty quickly and none were available when we arrived on a Wednesday in late July.
Sites are nicely spaced and good size. The area is very green and most spots are heavily treed. They have a very rustic feel to them with big old wooden tables covered in moss for good measure. This is one lush place. Oh, it does rain a fair bit in this area so don't expect desert camping conditions. Bring a good tent unless you have an RV. I believe it rained the entire second day we camped here. It was a very beautiful spot nonetheless. In fact, the rain kind of added to the atmosphere though don't me wrong, we were very happy to get some sun our last morning to make up pancakes!
Restrooms are on the older side but perfectly acceptable and for $12, it is a very good value campground. Heart O' the Hills is the closest campground to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and has 105 spots which fill quickly. It's bigger with a bit less atmosphere but certainly convenient to that area. Elwha is deeper into the park but still relatively close to Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent areas.
Stayed here for 3 nights in July 2006. It's inexpensive with basic but friendly service. Our room was worn with saggy beds, thin mattresses, everything (carpets, furniture, etc.) a bit dingy. It was probably built in the 60's. The nice thing is that you can get a room which is more like an apartment, complete with a full kitchen (including dishes and cutlery), and there's an eat-in kitchen table, so you can bring in groceries and cook. And the small outdoor pool is refreshing (was a little crowded). Where our room was we could hear the traffic rumbling by at night as it's right on the main drag, though not much traffic after a certain hour. I think we paid about $70 per night with 7 people.... a separate bedroom had two double beds and the living room had two single beds, plus a roll-away. Good access to the beaches, though it takes about an hour to reach Klaloch beach.
kitchen, pool, spacious
There are only two decent motels in the town of Fork. Other motels seems too shabby to stay. The whole town is old and not prosperoused. We were told that there are two adult prinsons and one yougth prisons around the town which is kind of scary. But Fork is the only town that is "inside" the park. However, there is one fork residence wrote some article about how to Olympic's must sees. And thanks to that article we know how to visit the park and of course that article leads us to Fork (:)).
We were extremely disappointed with this so-called "resort". Our cabin was in very poor condition - old worn carpeting and bedding, inadequate lighting, and none of the standard amenities like coffee maker, hair dryer, etc. The room was also unacceptably dirty when we checked in - so bad that we had to ask them to clean again and it was only marginally better afterwards. They didn't even follow up to ask if we found the room adequate. The men's shower outside the pools was filthy and poorly maintained. The pools themselves are very disappointing as well. The hefty price tag of $125 for this place is an outrage. The next night we spent the same amount for a room at Crescent Lake Lodge and were VERY pleased there - very clean room with the simple amenities that you expect for the money. Do yourself a favor and make Crescent Lake Lodge your home base for visiting this part of the park.
Kalaloch Lodge sits by itself along Highway 101. The area can be busy during the summer, but in the winter this lodge feels like another world. The rooms are small but cozy, and the ocean side rooms have spectacular views of the surf and beach.
The lodge is smaller than many National Park lodges, but it is cozier than most as well.
Fire pit is about all you get. There are outhouses, but do bring your own TP. Hiking stoves required I like the Primus Yellowstone Tech w/Piezo igniter. You can use both large & small fuel cans. Primus also makes a Alpine Yellowstone lantern for the same fuel cans. Water sources are poor in summer, probably better other times of year. Be prepared to spend lots of time pumping.
Cables povided to hang food, garbage, etc. Bear barels & hanging is for squirls, raccons, etc. that can ruin your whole trip by taking your only food, or damage your tent by tearing through to try to get your food.
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