Lake Crescent Lodge

The following article was written for Explore Washington State.


A classic Washington day: cold, rainy, and foggy. The air, thick with moisture, began creeping inside our house, our car, our clothes…even our minds. Gianna and I live in Port Angeles, and we’ve heard a lot about Lake Crescent Lodge, but have never taken the time to visit. It’s only 20 miles west of our home, and given the cold October day, we figure it is time to go check it out. So, we bundle up and head west on 101.

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Tuning into a local radio station, a man informs us that each mile driven west from Sequim is equivalent to an inch of rain a year. Though Sequim receives 17 inches of rain a year, Port Angeles receives 26, and Forks gets 119. If you compare Forks to Seattle, that’s 84 more inches of rain every year. That is a lot of rain—and the farther we drive from Port Angeles, the rainier it’s getting.

I look out my window and ponder the fact that these high rainfall levels are exactly what makes this place so unique. I see clouds slowly crawling through the old growth forests, and I consider how incredible it is that these giants essentially dine and thrive on the nutrients and moisture from the fog. I think how a magic concoction of ocean moisture and cool air confronts the Olympic Mountains gifting the Olympic Peninsula its dense, gigantic, and mysterious coniferous forest.

Driving along, we hit the tip of Lake Crescent: a prolific body of water that stores some of this rain. The lake is gigantic, extending 12 miles with a maximum depth of 624 feet. The water is exceptionally blue and clear. But today—like the air—the water is dark. We marvel again at the fog eerily shifting through the steep mountains and old growth forests that line the lake.

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We eventually arrive at the Lodge, which is about halfway down the lake. Walking up to the entrance, we pass small cottages on our left with huge Douglas Firs towering above them. Firs so big that only the rain of the Peninsula can create them.

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And to our right—in all its mystery—was the Lake.

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We keep walking along the path until we spot a dock stretching out into the lake, so we stroll out to the end to take it all in.

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Reading a sign, we learn that Lake Crescent Lodge is formally known as, "Singer's Lake Crescent Tavern,” which was built in 1915 coinciding with road improvements and a ferry that provided access to this rugged and remote location. I think of the immense challenges early settlers must have had fighting all the rain, the mountains, and the forests the line the lake to establish this resort.

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Singer's Lake Crescent Tavern    from Lake Crescent around 1918. Doesn’t look a whole lot different than today!

Singer's Lake Crescent Tavern from Lake Crescent around 1918. Doesn’t look a whole lot different than today!

We decide it is time to head inside, and step through the doors. The cold damp air is lost to the stone fireplace, Frank Sinatra, a huge elk, hardwood floors, and a cozy, rustic atmosphere.

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Next, we are escorted to the dinning room, which is literally, “on the lake” and sit at a cozy table. While we may not have gotten the “seat of the house,” like these folks, we sure didn’t complain.

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For Gianna and myself, “fancy” dinners in Port Angeles are few and far between. So this one feels fancy to us. The table cloths are white, with folded napkins, goblet glasses of water, and a proper table set. We order wonderful pineapple ginger mojitos to get things started

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On the menu we read a small story about the lodge. During the 1930s, when the creation of Olympic National Park was being debated in Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Lodge to get a feel for the area. Here, Roosevelt sat with several other public figures discussing his support of the park. Soon after this dinner, a bill with Roosevelt’s support hit the Congressional floor which proved to be foundational in establishing Olympic National Park (1938), one of the true gems of the National Park System.

The options are diverse, offering primarily locally sourced food within an hour of the lodge. There are appetizers like the Wild Mushroom Quinoa ‘Arancini’, or salads like the Dungeness Crab Cobb Salad, and entrees like Brown Butter Basted Halibut, 14 oz. Angus Ribeye, Seared Local Salmon, and the Washington Farmer’s Basket Griddled Provolone Bowl. It all sounds delicious, but we both are craving fish and chips and decide to listen to our cravings.

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The dinning room proves to be very relaxing and peaceful. Dinner flies by with classical music humming in the background. The food is delicious and the service is excellent. A little slow—but, hey—eating at the Lake Crescent Lodge isn’t about being rushed. We enjoy the slower pace, it gives us a chance to step back in time and glimpse the early 1900’s.

Eventually and reluctantly we know it is time to leave the cozy warmth of the lodge and head out to the damp darkness of the Peninsula. So, we pay the check and head out to the lobby.

As I wander the lobby one last time, I spot an article on the book shelf written by Town Crier in 1919 for a Seattle weekly newspaper reading, “On the edge of the lake (Lake Crescent) is Singer's Lake Crescent Tavern, a truly remarkable hotel and a place to be fondly remembered by its guests for its good food, its air of solid comfort, its days of full enjoyment, its warm welcome.” Nearly a hundred years later, my impression resonates the same sentiment. These words still hold truth even today.