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Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Davis, CA
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Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

We (me, my husband and a 15 year old daugher) are planning a trip in July for Olympic National Park. We have about two weeks total, and will be driving up from the Sacramento area. That means we'll spend about two days driving up and back, so about 10 days total in the area. We planned to drive up through Seattle, and then do a counter-clockwise loop through the park areas.

Our thoughts/questions on itinerary:

Seattle - 2 nights - is that about right if we've never been there before?

North End of the park -- We'd like to visit Port Townsend, Lake Crescent, Hurricane Ridge, and do a river fishing day (my husband is a big fisherman, and wants to do a guided river trip somewhere)....maybe 4 nights....or longer? Would we be better off staying at the Lake Crescent Lodge, someplace in Port Angeles, or someplace else? We'd prefer a cabin/lodge type of setting where we could have small kitchen and not have to go out every night. We're not "budget" travelers, but we don't need the Ritz Carlton for sure.

Also, are the Sol duc hot springs worth it? We're not really the springs soaking types, but if it is something special, we'd add that to the list. And...what about the far North end...Callum Bay, Neah Bay...is it worth adding time to take in that area?

East Side - Several places look great...Quilete Oceanside Resort, Kalaloch Lodge, Lake Quinalt Resort....should we try to stay in two places, or just one and drive more? We want to see some of the beaches, the Hoh rainforest, etc. We also would like to get some mild sea or estuary kayaking in...not sure if this area or the north side is best for that?

Appreciate your thoughts on time in each area and where might be best to stay. Thank very much!!!

Port Angeles, WA
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1. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Your geography is a little off. The Quillayute River Resort is in the northwest part of the park, not the east end. Nothing on your list is in the east end. Kalaloch, for example, is on the coast. Let me try to help.

First, for a great fishing guide, call Bret Lowe, (360) 477-2492. He really knows the Sol Duc and the Hoh. For sea kayaking in Freshwater Bay near Port Angeles/Lake Crescent, call Adventures through Kayaking (888) 900-3015. They are wonderful people who also guide adventure bike tours.

Second, you want to group the following sites together, going from east to west: Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, Rialto Beach, Second Beach, and the Hoh Rain Forest. Visiting these should take 2 to three days, more if you real hikers. Base yourself either at Lake Crescent, the Quillayute River Resort, or Forks. Usually, I tell people to avoid Forks, a dismal little town, but it's close to the fishing, and your husband will want to get up very early for that.

I would skip Neah Bay unless I were interested in the Makah Museum.; Clallam Bay has nothing but a prison and a beautiful coastline. There's nothing to see there.

If you want a fantastic,albeit somewhat tiring, 9.2 mile coastal hike in the Clallam Bay area, go to Cape Alava. Mind your tides and take a lunch. It's like the end of the world there. You can learn about it - and about other hikes - on www.kaleberg.com. There are tide tables there, too.

The Sol Duc Hot Springs are not wild hot springs. They are piped into a series of swimming pools behind Sol Duc River Resort, a very rustic cluster of cabins set around a parking lot. The real draw, in my opinion, is the set of nearby hiking trails. A short trail leads to beautiful Sol Duc Falls. The more ambitious can climb 1600 ft up to Deer Lake or, even better, 2300 ft. to the Potholes. It's magnificent up there in late August, although you sometimes have to fight the bears for the wild blueberries.

Kalaloch and Lake Quinault are in the southern part of the park. There are some beautiful places to visit there, including Ruby Beach and the Quinault Rain Forest.

You might want to spend 4 or 5 nights in the northern half of the park and 2 in the southern half, perhaps at Kalaloch Lodge.

Reserve your lodgings soon, as August is the height of the season in ONP. Normally, I would suggest renting house, but at that time of year, the best rentals will be for week long stays. Keep writing, as there is more info I and the other DEs can offer when your plans firm up.

Poulsbo, Washington
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2. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Ten days is a good amount of time to visit various places here. I think you have enough time to include a daytip to or from Seattle to Mt. Rainier National Park. This is a great Park and a fantastic place to get into the high mountains without much trouble. A thought would be to visit Rainier on your way to Seattle. You could stay just outside the Park or somewhere alonf Interstate 5 around Tacoma if you wanted a full day and did not want to drive into Seattle that night. I would not miss the Park since you have the time. I think two full days in Seattle would be enough, if your primary objective is to explore Olympic National Park. I would then take the Bainbridge Ferry (avoiding commute time 5-7 and weekends) and head for Port Angeles. One night in Port Angeles would give you a day for exploring

Hurricand Ridge. Port Townsend is great small town and worth a visit. You can do whale watching from there if you have the time and desire. Port Angeles would be a good place to stay for exploring Hurricane Ridge and or Lake Crescent. I do not think Lake Crescent Lodge has kitchen fascilities. Check the link for Sol Duc Cabin. I have stayed there a couple of times. It is a right off of 101, but a little isolated. They cabins are incredibly nice and have great modrern kitchens. This is a place where you could explore Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Valley and Sol Duc Falls. For kayaking checkout Adventures in Kayaking in Port Angeles. I have my own kayak, but I have paddled some of the spots where they go. Also give Rainforest Padlers in Forks a call. They paddle the Hoh River and I believe the Quilleute River which enters into the Ocean by LaPush. For visiting the Hoh Rainforest stay in or around Forks. I will include a link. Quilleute Oceanside Resort is on the Reservation and is good access to the Ocean. Also consider Quiliutte River Resort. On the river and nice rooms. Have not stayed at Kalaloch in years, but it is a nice location on the Ocean. Lake Quinault is both a pretty Lake, and also the start of the Quinault River Rainforest. Lots of short and longer hikes through Rainforest. Lake Quinault Lodge is a nice place to stay, but as you will see from the link there are other choices . I would skip Neah Bay. Long drive; some of it pretty to Makah Reservation.

http://www.solducriversidecottages.com/

http://www.quinaultrainforest.com/

Edited: 2:38 pm, March 11, 2011
Davis, CA
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3. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Thanks so much to you both! And yes, sorry - I meant West (not East)...was typing too fast! A few more follow-up questions....

1) If we base in the Forks area, I'm a little worried about how much driving we'll be doing to get back to the Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent areas a couple of the days. Should we consider something like this.....2-3 nights in the Port Angeles area (visit Lake Crescent, Port Townsend, Hurricane Ridge, Kayaking), the 3 nights in the Forks area (Beaches, Hoh Rain Forest, Fishing), then 2 nights at Kalaloch/Quinalt area?

2) If we did stay in the Port Angeles/Lake Crescent area, are there any great cabin type places with Kitchenette's that you know of?

3) The Sol Duc Riverside Cottages look amazing! Looks like they might be booked during our time frame though....and I have an email into the Quilete Oceanside Resort. Other thoughts with kitchenettes in that area if these two don't work?

4) Would we be better off staying at the Kalaloch Lodge or in the Lake Quinalt area? They both look stunning, but I realize are very different. Also, for Lake Quinalt, I see there is the "lodge" and the "resort"....looks like the "resort" has kitchen facilities. Any thoughts about any of the three locations?

Thanks....and yes, I do realize we need to get reservations done ASAP. I am normally a 9-12 month in advance trip planner, so I very much appreciate your advice!!

P.S. and I'll also be looking into a Mt. Ranier side trip on the way in...thanks for that suggestion!

Thanks again!

Port Angeles, WA
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4. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Your itinerary is a good one. I can't help with cottages near Lake Crescent. At that of year, rentals go for a week. You might contact Simone Nichols at www.grovelandcottage.com. She acts as rental manager of a variety of houses in the PA/Sequim area. I do suggest avoiding staying at Lake Sutherland at this time of year. Lake Sutherland is not in the park and allows jet skis. The noise is constant throughout the summer and drives some people crazy.

Many people love Lake Quinault Lodge; I know Glaciermeadow does. I really dislike it. Kalaloch Lodge is more isolated. It's on a huge beach. There is a big difference, however, in the quality of cabins at Kalaloch. The Marcy and the Overleigh cabins are much nicer, albeit more expensive, than the others, which tend to be abit dark and musty. The food at Klalaloch Lodge ok, but not great, whereas many praise the restaurant at Lake Quinault Lodge.

Poulsbo, Washington
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5. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Kaleberg I would try Lake Quinault again, especially in the Fall. Travel the difference is so great as one is on a Lake with rainforest and the other of course is the Ocean. My view is there is a lot more to do in the way of walks on the Quinault. The Resort is fine. All of these places will be crowded in July. Did you checkout Locherie Cabins? They are older cabins, but I think a fun place to stay. They have small kitchens. There is a little bit of an incline between where you park and the cabins to carry luggage and supplies.

Port Angeles, WA
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6. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Glacier, I booked the boat house room, the largest and most expensive in the resort. When we arrived, we found the resort to be staffed by what appeared to be two sweet but overworked teenage girls. The main lodge was beautiful but a little dingy in spots, and you could not find staff anywhere to order a cup of coffee or a cocktail. . The girls checked us in, and we were terribly disappointed by the room. It was huge, two stories, in fact, but it was very dark and poorly maintained. The bulb was out in the downstairs hallway, so we had to bump our luggage up the stairs in the dark. The bathroom had a tiny shower stall and no tub. The bedroom was enormous, but not all that clean and poorly lit. Worst of all, the huge window next to the bed overlooked both the lake and, to our distress, the parking lot. It had no curtains or shades on its top half. This meant that we could not block either the parking lot light or the dawn light from the room. Since it was July, dawn came at 4:30 am. Sleep would not have been possible, so we forfeited our entire 3 day stay and drove home.

This is the problem with so many of the grand old park lodges. They are not maintained and staffed consistently. ONP is especially hard hit in this respect. I have stayed at Kalaloch and been comfortable, but only because we chose our cabins very carefully.

I really want to return to hike the lovely trails in the Lake Q rain forest, but I don't know where to stay after that disheartening experience. Perhaps we shall base ourselves in Kalaloch and try for dinner at Lake Q Lodge. That might make us feel better about the place.

Poulsbo, Washington
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7. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Kaleberg I still suggest you try it again. I checked out the boathouse rooms years ago and thought it offered no privacy and looked a little worn. Try the Lakeside rooms. They basically have the feel of a large motel room.

We have found them to be clean and very comfortable. You can hear both the rain hitting the Lake and the waves lapping against the shore when your window is open. Stayed in February and had the place to ourselves. Could have stayed for a week. I see you have your own getaway, but I suggest you stay in the offseason. Fall is as beautiful as the Hoh without the need to return home or stay in lovely Forks!

Davis, CA
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8. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Thanks again! I think we've settled into an itinerary...based on limited July availability, I had to do a fair bit of looking, but we've ended up with:

1) Port Angeles Area - vacation cottage at "A Hidden Haven"

2) Quileute Oceanside resort - cabin with kitchen

3) Lake Quinalt - Lochaerie Cabins (sorry...I guess I won't be able to contribute to the debate about Lake Quinalt Lodge!!)

If this brings any other comments to mind for you, they are most welcome.

Now, for our couple of days in Seattle...what area would be the most convenient to stay (for us to see the typical tourist things...Pike's place, Space Needle, etc.)....I was looking at the Homewood Suites at 1011 Pike Street...thoughts or other suggestions? Also, any experience with the Underground Tour -- worthwhile? Or other "must see's"?

Thanks again!!

Port Angeles, WA
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9. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Your lodging choices are excellent. Hidden Haven used to be a well regarded B&B near Port Angeles. I hope you write in with a description of your experience there and at the Oceanside Resort. The latter has a great location, and, when it's good, it's very good.

In Seattle, make sure you go to the Ballard Locks. The locks themselves are fascinating, especially when a ship is going through them, and you get the added bonus of a beautiful garden. Best of all, there is a salmon exhibit that has underwater windows that allow you to see migrating fish. You don't always see them, but watching steelhead, chinook or coho swimming through the locks is unforgettable. Ballard has many excellent restaurants as well as being an interesting neighborhood.

Since you are walkers, climb up Capitol Hill to Volunteer Park. There is a great glass enclosed conservatory there with beautiful orchids, as well as the Asian Museum. Check out Uwajimaya store and some of the restaurants in the International District.

Germantown...
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10. Re: Itinerary - How long to stay where??"

Both the Homewood Suites on Pike and the Homewood Suites Downtown are wonderful hotels. Great area, and I think you would be happy with either of them.

The Homewood Suites on Pike is really nice and modern.