Walking toward Lake Crescent Lodge a New England resort came to my mind rather than a National Park Lodge. Then, I stepped through the door and there it was, the rustic charm and stone fireplace that to me shout National Park Lodge.
Originally called Singer’s Lake Crescent Tavern, it was part of a complex developed by Avery and Julia Singer. They started with a small hotel and cabins in 1913 and added the tavern in 1914. The tavern held seven lodge rooms, five of those rooms are still in use.
What is now the lobby was a living room in the arts and craft bungalow style tavern. Attached to the living room was a large porch overlooking the lake. The porch is now enclosed with an area for dining and some chairs for sitting back and enjoying the lake view.
President Franklen D. Roosevelt visited Singer’s Tavern in 1937 before conitnuing on to Lake Quinault. At Singer’s Tavern, Roosevelt discussed the proposed Olympic National Park with Park Service and Forest Service advisors, and with Washington senators Monrad Wallgren and Homer T. Bone. After Roosevelt’s tour of the Olympics he authorized the creation of Olympic National Park in 1938.
Singer’s Lake Crescent Tavern changed owners several times before being purchased in 1951 by the National Park Service. Currently Lake Crescent Lodge is operated by Aramark under contract with the National Park Service.
Long before the Singers arrived and before pioneers homesteaded this area Native Americans lived on this land for thousands for years and gathered on the shores of Lake Crescent.
Lake Crescent Lodge sits at the foot of Mount Storm King on the edge of Lake Crescent and is surrounded by the Olympic Mountains and old-growth forest. Originally guests arrived at the lodge via ferry. Craig Magnuson’s History Around Lake Crescent provides some historic photos of the area in the early 1900s.
The completion of Olympic Highway (101) in 1922, meant guests began arriving by automobile. If you have a choice approach the lodge from the west on Highway 101. The drive along the edge of the lake, at the same level as the highway, never fails to move me with its beauty.
In spite of its small size the lobby has all of the standard features of a National Park Lodge lobby. In addition, it has an interesting bit of history. Like many National Park lodges there are no phone in the rooms. In today’s world of cell phones, phone booths have been removed from most of the properties. However, the phone booth in the corner of this lodge remains. When Marilyn Monroe was found dead the Kennedys were vacationing at Lake Crescent Lodge. It is said that Bobby Kennedy spent many hours in that phone booth the night of her death.
Lake Crescent Lodge lobby houses a small sitting area, game tables, bar and reception desk. Accessed from the lobby are the sun porch which was added 80 years ago, the restaurant and gift shop. Look for the scrapbook in the lobby that chronicles some interesting history of Lake Crescent Lodge.
I stayed in the Marymere Rooms located in two one story motel like structures. Each room includes two queen beds, a full bathroom, and a porch with views of the lake or mountains. There are no TVs or telephones. The rooms are basic but include all necessities and there is nothing between you and the lake except some trees.
The Stork King Rooms are in a newer two-story building and sit further back from the lake. They are surrounded by trees and feel a bit like a cabin in the woods. These rooms have one queen bed, a porch or balcony, and shower-only bathrooms, no TVs or telephones.
Pyramid Mountain Rooms are also in a two-story building surrounded by trees and overlooking a meadow. They have porches or balconies and mountain views, no TVs or telephones. The rooms have two queen beds and a full bathroom. There is also an ADA compliant room with one queen bed and a full bathroom (no roll-in shower).
The Singer Tavern Cottages are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are based on the design of the original 1916 cottages. There are 10 one-bedroom cottages and three two-bedroom cottages with lake and mountain views.
The two-bedroom cottages have two queen beds in one room and one queen bed in the other. There is also a full bathroom, a mini-fridge, and a porch with wicker chairs and lake views. The one-bedroom cottages have two queen beds, a full bathroom along with the porch and lake views. These cabins sit further back from the lake than the Marymere Rooms. However, there is a still a lake view and I found these cabins to be very charming.
The Lodge Rooms are located on the second floor of Lake Crescent Lodge. They do not have private bathrooms. Guests share a central bathroom/shower. There are lovely views of the lake from these rooms and they do have the significance of being the only original rooms at Lake Crescent Lodge still housing guests today.
Now we come to the rooms that to me are the stars of Lake Crescent Lodge, the Roosevelt Fireplace Cabins.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cabins were built a decade after Roosevelt’s visit and were named in his honor. Each cabin has a fireplace and lake or mountain views. They sit on the shore of Lake Crescent and at the opposite of the lodge as the other cabins, offering some seclusion. All Roosevelt Fireplace Cabins are located along the shores of Lake Crescent.
Two-bedroom Roosevelt Fireplace Cabins include two double beds in one bedroom and one queen bed in the other. The cabins feature a fireplace, a full bathroom, a microwave, and a mini-fridge.
One-Bedroom Roosevelt Fireplace Cabins include two queen beds in the bedroom, a fireplace, a shower-only bathroom, a microwave, and a mini-fridge. None of the cabins have TVs or telephones. I would recommend cabin #38 if you can get it. Sitting at the end of the row of cabins there are windows on three sides with views of the forest and the lake.
The Roosevelt cabins are the only lodging offered at Lake Crescent Lodge when it closes for the winter. In the winter they are available on the weekends. There is no staff on the premises during that time. Keys are available on the porch along with two bundles of firewood. The cabins book up as much as a year in advance so make plans early if you want to stay in them in the winter.
The dining room is located in the main lodge building and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some tables offer views of the lake. The fireplace provides a homey atmosphere.
The restaurant features Pacific Northwest wines. Lake Crescent Lodge implemented 77 steps in Six Environmental Categories: Energy, Water, Waste, Food, Disposables, and Chemicals to become a Certified Green Restaurant®. I selected some al a carte items for a light breakfast. The food was hot and tasty and the service attentive.
Food is also available at the lounge throughout the day and from 7pm to 10pm. The restaurant closes at 9pm.
Lake Crescent Lodge hosts many special events throughout the year such as Washington wine weekends, murder mystery dinners and tea parties. Holidays bring Sundays with Santa and special meals for Christmas and New Year’s.
Kayaks and canoes are available for rent. There are also guided scenic kayak tours. Fishing is catch and release and you do need to bring your own equipment. However you make catch a one-of-kind Beardsley Trout found only in Lake Crescent.
Marymere Falls Hiking Trail is accessible from Lake Crescent Lodge and is a popular hike for both visitors and locals. A drive to Hurricane Ridge will give you access to multiple Olympic Park trails.
An easy trail starting just steps from the Marymere building is Moments in Time. Is it a ½ mile loop on level ground. It starts along the edge of Lake Crescent before winding through the forest.
You can also book four different interpretive hikes through the lodge. For more information on hiking in the Lake Cresdent area download the Lake Crescent Hiking Brochure.
Lake Crescent Lodge is unique among National Park Lodges with its arts and craft architecture. With a wide choice of lodging there is something to fit the needs of most everyone. The lodge is open May 2, 2015 – January 1, 2016, with the exception of the Roosevelt Cottages open on weekends throughout the winter season.
Like Lake Quinault Lodge, also in Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent Lodge offers the oppoturnity to sit quietly surrounded by nature or to participate in a variety of outdoor activities. You can be an idle vacationer one day and hiking the Olympics the next.