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ONP in December, coming from PDX, leaving from SEA

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Austin, Texas
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33 posts
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ONP in December, coming from PDX, leaving from SEA

Hello! We are planning a trip from Dec 26-Dec 30 in ONP. We would be coming from PDX on 12/26 and are wondering if we should drive up the west side of 101 and stay 1 night at Lake Quinault, then 3 nights at Lake Crescent OR just drive up the east side of 101 straight to Lake Crescent and stay all 4 nights there? Should we be concerned about driving conditions/snow/icy roads?

Thanks!!

Poulsbo, Washington
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1. Re: ONP in December, coming from PDX, leaving from SEA

Of course we can not predict the weather in December. Most of the time snow and ice are not a problem, although I would avoid driving at night when you can get black ice. The road along Lake Crescent is one spot you have to be careful.

last year I spent two nights at a private rental at Quinault and two nights at a home on Lake Crescent. Last year we had snow in places just before Christmas. In January there was so much ice on the Sol Duc Road that they closed it. If you go with the odds, snow should not be an issue, but it is possible. Both places are fantastic for the holidays. If you stay at the Lodges, you can walk right out the door to some great spots without getting in the car. If it were me I would split my time with two nights at each location. Lake Quinault Lodge was decorated (I assume they will do the same at Crescent) and although we did not stay there we ate therea couple of times and loved sitting in front of the fireplace in their lovely lobby.

Port Angeles, WA
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2. Re: ONP in December, coming from PDX, leaving from SEA

I applaud your spirit. Although late December is chilly and very dark here, it can be a great time to visit ONP, especially the northern half of the park. I far prefer it to November, which tends to be more windy. Hurricane Ridge is kept open all week during the holiday season between Christmas and New Year's, and the snowshoeing up there is glorious. I have hiked Second Beach in shirtsleeves on Dec. 27, although that was an unusually warm December day. Lake Crescent is hauntingly beautiful in winter. The mist rises from the lake in the morning, and the trails are private and peaceful.

Do be prepared for snow, just in case. Buy inexpensive tire chains, learn how to apply them, and keep them in your trunk. You probably will not need them, but I have had occasion to use them several times when driving around the park, and they can be a lifesaver. As Glaciermeadow has indicated, watch out for icy road conditions on Highway 101 just east of Lake Crescent as you head toward Port Angeles. That area is in deep mountain shadow, and black ice sometimes lurks on the road. The area around Granny's Cafe is notorious for frost and black ice, so pay attention and don't drive during the night.

Austin, Texas
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3. Re: ONP in December, coming from PDX, leaving from SEA

Thanks for the tips. Is 101 ever closed in the winter, or just the side roads?

Port Angeles, WA
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4. Re: ONP in December, coming from PDX, leaving from SEA

No, 101 is never closed. Even when it snows at the lower elevations, the snowplows clear the highway.

5. Re: ONP in December, coming from PDX, leaving from SEA

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