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Summer escape: Olympic National Park, Washington

By David Hanson
Cottage Living

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Rugged beaches are just one of Olympic National Park's draws.

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(Cottage Livingexternal link) -- Under blue skies in mild summer temperatures you reap the benefits of months of rain and dampness -- lush moss gardens, towering cedar groves, warm beaches crazy wildflowers. Olympic National Park also offers the variety-pack of life zones: wilderness beaches wild with salt spray, rocky headlands and scattered sea stacks; temperate rain forests with more shades of green than a Crayola factory; high mountain spines at Hurricane Ridge; and even glaciers in the high alpine zone.

Miles of trails crisscross valleys and climb over ridges. No roads bisect the park, leaving the interior to some of the world's largest trees. A long weekend circumnavigating this park feels like exploring a far edge of the globe where a rough sea meets its match in a rich forest and a stout fist of mountains.

Where to sleep

Rent a cottage

Quileute Oceanside Resort, (360) 374-5267 or quileuteoceanside.comexternal link. It's all about location. The one-, two-, and three-bedroom cabins are simple, but with the wildest coastline in the lower 48 staring you in the face, who wants to spend the day inside? Plus, the resort is run by the local Quileute Tribal Council.

So you're not into roughing it

On the lake: Lake Crescent Lodge, (360) 928-3211 or lakecrescentlodge.comexternal link. Rent your own cottage beside the Historic Lodge on the shores of glacially carved Lake Crescent. Sitting on the lodge porch sipping a cocktail as the sun sets between the lake's western ridges . . . magic.

On the coast: Kalaloch Lodge, (866) 525-2562 or visitkalaloch.comexternal link. This grand park hotel is situated on the edge of the continent overlooking the dramatic sea stacks and pounding Pacific surf. Choose from lodge rooms or separate units lined up along the cliff edge.

You love camping

Elwha, Sol Duc, Hoh, and Graves Creek campgrounds, nps.govexternal link. It's tough to recommend only one: They're all tucked up on one of the river-paralleling access roads poking into the park, and all offer a campsite canopy of 200-foot-tall trees bigger around than your tent.

Where to eat

Breakfast

First Street Haven, (360) 457-0352. Port Angeles favorite for a slow breakfast or a coffee pick-up. The omelets are a perfect pre-hike choice.

Granny's Cafe, (360) 928-3266. This classic diner, just outside Port Angeles on your way to Lake Crescent, is an institution.

Our picnic pick

Sunny Farms Country Store, (360) 683-8003. Best place on the peninsula for fresh produce, fancy breads, cheeses, baked goods and meats.

Après hike

Lake Quinault Lodge Dining Room, (360) 288-2900 or visitlakequinault.comexternal link. While all the park lodges have dining rooms, many consider the Quinault's to be the finest. You'll find quality steaks, pastas, fresh salmon and halibut.

More summer escapes:

Acadia National Park, Maine

Glacier National Park, Montana

Badlands and Black Hills, South Dakota

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan


Copyright 2004-2006 Cottage Living magazine. All rights reserved.
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