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Kalaloch Lodge, Olympic NP and Fly Fishing

Since the Pacific Northwest seems to be of interest to a number of people lately I thought I would post a review of Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park, Washington. My husband, dog and I just returned from a last minute mid-week trip there. It’s been over 20 years and two dogs since we last stayed at Kalaloch and I wonder why we waited so long. It was magical. For those who are unfamiliar with Olympic N.P., it is in the northwest corner of Washington State. Kalaloch is on the west side of the park, on the Pacific Ocean. The northwest coast of Washington is a lot like Oregon’s coast but much less developed. There are miles of beach unmarked by stores, hotels or boardwalks. Kalaloch Lodge is one of the few on the beach and the area is one of the few where dogs are permitted. The relative remoteness does have its drawbacks for those who need connectivity. There’s no wi-fi at Kalaloch Lodge and cell service is spotty. If you need a TV you are out of luck. I almost took a picture of the two telephone booths. When was the last time you saw a working telephone booth, let alone two?

The Lodge restaurant is currently closed for the season and the nearest town, Forks, is a good 30-40 minutes away. There are both standard hotel rooms and cabins at Kalaloch. Many of the cabins have full or mini-kitchens. The kitchens are stocked with cookware but interestingly, no dishes. Only disposable plates, cups and utensils. (Is this a pandemic thing?) We brought our camping box complete with plates and wine glasses – drinking wine from a plastic cup is too depressing. There is a little convenience store which I assume has things like milk, salt, pepper and butter. I know it has beer.

We walked at South Beach, Beach 1, Beach 2, Kalaloch and Ruby Beach. The north end of Kalaloch Beach and Ruby Beach are probably the most interesting with rock outcroppings, tide pools and the Tree of Life. With the exception of Ruby Beach we essentially had the beaches to ourselves. We also drove out along the Hoh River where we noticed a number of fly fishers – this is for you, James E. The Hoh is mostly catch and release but you can take two hatchery raised steelhead. And we drove out to the upper Queets River Valley and were going to hike but noticed the game trails. With the recent cougar sightings and with dusk approaching we decided not to do so. We did see two different herd of elk.

One final note. You do not need a National Parks Pass for the Kalaloch area. However, if you head to the Hoh Rainforest or other parts of Olympic N.P. you will need one. You may also want a Washington State Parks Pass (called a Discover Pass), since many parts of the federal land abut state land.

Posted by
47 posts

Thank you. That is a beautiful area. I stayed in some cabins owned and operated by indigenous people about 15 years ago while visiting my son in Seattle.

Posted by
769 posts

Second Beach is one of the best places in WA. Third is a little further down the trail and less visited, but I prefer Second. I usually stay in La Push, but now that you've mentioned the lodge I'm going to give it a try.

Posted by
3789 posts

Thanks for the different locale report. It sounds wonderful. I am a Victoria BC gal, now living in Ottawa. The river just isn't the same as those coastal oceans and as the area will open up again next week from a tight 'essential services only' lock down, I still can't work up enough gumption to do even a short get away. If a coast with open water was nearby, maybe I could, but it is too far under current conditions.

Posted by
12321 posts

Steelheads can be so much fun! I can't remember the last time I kept a fish on a river, so that's all good. The way it should be.

But I am jealous.

Posted by
97 posts

We have traveled often in the Olympic Peninsula & Puget Sound area of Washington. Have always enjoyed our times there, rain or shine. For the Peninsula, we travel on Hwy 101 either clockwise or counter-clockwise. Stop in Aberdeen with a couple of really good sea food restaurants. Gray's Harbor for birding spring & fall. Lake Quinault, elk, & Largest Sitka Spruce on S. Shore Rd (the long-long road goes around the lake but may not be open all the way in spring). Queets or Kalaloch for beaches & hiking. Stay in Fork's for day trips in area: Hoh Rain Forest, La Push & Rialto Beach, rain forest & beach hikes. (The Fork's restaurants are into burger-style, but the market is well stocked.) In early spring, the skunk cabbage may be in bloom in swampy areas - spectacular. Neah Bay where the Pacific meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca & sometimes spring whale watching. Hurricane Ridge for views of the Olympics IF the snow has melted there. Port Angeles - an active lumber port & and some good sea food restaurants. Pay to park your car at the Red Lion Inn (also a good place to stay) & walk onto the Black Ball ferry to Victoria. (This assumes Canada will even accept us.) You can take your car but Victoria/Vancouver Island has good bus service. We stay at the Bedford Regency Hotel in downtown & next to Murchies Tea & Pastries! Lots to do & eat in Victoria plus an easy bus ride out to Butchart Gardens. Back in Port Angeles, head east for Port Townsend on the Puget Sound. Reserve a B & B in town and enjoy a delightful & walkable victorian style town with shopping, good food & tourists (mostly from the NW). We usually switch east to Hwy 104/3/16 to visit friends in the islands; but you can stay on Hwy 101 to Olympia or take the ferry from Kingston to the mainland & Seattle. All-in-all, a very enjoyable couple of weeks. Wear good walking shoes/boots. Bring serious rain gear.

Posted by
12402 posts

Thanks for great the report and for bringing back some fond memories, Trotter! We explored Olympic some years ago (a combo trip with Seattle) and stayed in Port Angeles to hike Hurricane Ridge, some of the Elwha and Lake Crescent sections, and in Forks for the Hoh rain forest and the beaches (First, Second, Third, Fourth, Rialto, Ruby and a short look at Six). Hand's down, Second Beach was the favorite for us too! We enjoyed it so much that we did it twice on the same day: once in dense morning fog, and in late afternoon low tide. I'd never been tidepooling before, and took WAY too many pictures of pink, purple and orange sea stars.

Kalaloch's rates in Sept. were more than we could swing at the time but in hindsight, should have shaved a night off elsewhere versus going south to Ocean Shores for a night nearer the water. We also didn't get to explore the Lake Quinault trails so your report has me jonesing for another peninsula adventure!

Posted by
345 posts

We love the ONP area, including Kalaloch. We always stay in the cabins there, and yes, the paper plates is a pandemic thing. In normal times they have normal dishes, but with no dishwashers in the cabins, they cannot be sure that they are sanitized, thus the paper plates etc. We have brought our dogs there as well, but tend to leave them at home most of time since they cannot be on most trails.

We stayed away last summer since the communities were asking for that as so many WA locals were flocking to the beaches. I hope that it is safer this summer, so that we can head over there even if it is just for the day. Yes, a long day;)

One thing for visitors to remember is that WA is still asking visitors to quarantine for 14 nights upon arrival. Also note that the trial lands are still closed to all visitors, so Neah Bay, Shi Shi are closed and it is anticipated that they will stay closed for some time.

Posted by
1029 posts

It sounds wonderful for a future trip! One bright spot (for me) of this shut down is bringing new places, beyond some of the most obvious, in the U.S. to my attention. :) I am glad you had a good break!

Posted by
12134 posts

Great report, thanks Trotter.

I have heard that Kalaloch Lodge is a great place to stay, with or without dogs. We are mainly campers, so have not stayed there. But we will keep it in mind for a future visit.

The Olympic Peninsula has been a very popular place to visit during the pandemic, and judging from the posts on TripAdvisor, it will continue to be this spring and summer. Olympic National Park is large and spread out, and it takes a minimum of 3-4 days to see the beaches, rainforest, alpine areas, and other areas, so plan accordingly. Most visitors need at least two bases to see it all, one in or near Port Angeles for Hurricane Ridge alpine areas and nearby attractions such as Sol Duc Falls and Lake Crescent, and one near Forks for the beaches and rainforest.

In Port Angeles, the Olympic Lodge is recommended by many locals over the above-mentioned Red Lion. Better yet, stay at Lake Crescent Lodge right on the lake ( but then have a longer drive up to Hurricane Ridge).

Near Forks, the Quilleyute River Resort offers nice cabins. Further south, Lake Quinault Lodge is right on the lake of that name, and another possibility, but not as convenient to the Hoh Rainforest. And Kalaloch Lodge is a good choice for this area as well. Not many restaurants in the area, so these self-catering cabins are popular.

The current closures of Quileute and Makah tribal lands to outside visitors may continue into the spring and summer. This means that the popular Quileute Oceanside Resort at LaPush is closed, along with Neah Bay, and the trailheads for access to Second Beach and Shi-Shi Beach.

You can read more about the park, and get updates on current closures, on the park website:

https://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm

Posted by
345 posts

Lola--Yes, the Olympic Lodge is wonderful! That is usually out go to when we head over and are not camping or backpacking. We have been staying there for many years and have always had great experiences. It is a great place to stay to go snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge in the winter. Which, I am hoping we can get over there for that again this winter. We have stayed at the Red Lion once, and never again. It was the race headquarters for a half marathon we were doing, so figured it made the most sense. Awful, just awful! The only redeeming quality it had was that it is on the water, but the rest of it was a complete pit.

Posted by
12402 posts

If choosing accommodations in Forks, we had a nice stay at the Dew Drop Inn Motel. It's a smaller two-story (no elevator) with balconies or patios, and has a kitchen suite or two. Our (non-suite) room was spacious, clean, and quiet enough (request one opposite the highway if possible) and had a small refrigerator, coffeemaker and microwave. Very friendly desk staff, economical rates, and across the road from a supermarket, outfitter and laundromat. I'm pleased to see that's it's still getting good reviews! While Forks isn't exactly the most happenin' place, proximity to the beaches and the Hoh make up for that, and we didn't lack for basic-but-did-the-trick places to fill the tummy after a day in the boots.

https://www.dewdropinn.com

Posted by
12321 posts

Visiting Washington or coming home?

On Nov. 13, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a travel advisory  that recommends people arriving in Washington from other states or countries, including returning Washington residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. These individuals should also limit their interactions to their immediate household. This recommendation does not apply to individuals who cross state or country borders for essential travel, to include work and study, critical infrastructure support and immediate medical care. As of Nov. 17, Gov. Inslee issued new guidelines for indoor gatherings with people outside the household.

Posted by
4657 posts

I first stayed at Kalaloch almost 50 years ago, and have several times since. We'd planned a few nights there last year but had to cancel. The restaurant is good when it's open, the beaches are wonderful, and the cabins and motel units comfortable enough. Very remote location but a good base for exploring the west side of Olympic NP. The best thing about Olympic is that you can't drive through it, only around it. BTW, Kalaloch is pronounced "Ka-LAY-lock," just so you won't get laughed at by the locals.

The town of Forks isn't very attractive, and maybe not very "happening" for most of us, but for "Twilight" fans it's ground zero. Last time we were there, several years ago, we noticed various vampire-themed signs and attractions.

The highway (101) touches the coast only for a short stretch at Kalaloch. But the beaches north of there are part of the national park or tribal reservations, with spectacular multi-day hikes between trailheads. A tide table is needed to stay dry. Some of the headlands can be rounded at lower but not higher tides, some require climbing over at any time.

Posted by
345 posts

James--Both. That is why I cannot go see my parents in OR. I would have to quarantine to go there, but then also do the same here once I got home.

Posted by
544 posts

@Lola: Kalaloch campground is just across Kalaloch Creek from the Lodge. It's about a 10 minute walk from the Lodge. A recent storm took out the stairs from the Lodge to the beach so we accessed the beach through the campground. A part of the campground is open. The campsites looked nice, well situated with good privacy. Some are oceanfront. There aren't any hookups but there is a dump station.

Posted by
3326 posts

Always fun to read about the Olympic Peninsula from a visitor's perspective for those of us who live here.

There are a few current restrictions that tourists should be aware of when planning their trips. These may change, but this is the correct information as of today.

  1. Ferries: If you include a ferry trip from Seattle as part of your experience, it won't be much of an experience. Drive on passengers are required to stay in their cars for the trip so you don't get the usual fun of going upstairs and enjoying the view.
  2. These counties just transitioned to "phase 2" last week which will allow for 25% occupancy inside restaurants.
  3. Key tribal land closures continue. Make sure that you know where these are so that you can plan accordingly.
  4. At the best of times, food service in the Forks area is slim to none. These are not the best of times.......

There is some good news. Clallam county leads the state in percent of population vaccinated at 24%. This is possible due to some pretty impressive coordination of local agencies and the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe. We do take mask wearing and social distancing pretty seriously here. We welcome tourists but expect them to follow these mitigation strategies.

Posted by
2727 posts

As a native “Washingtonian” I appreciate the interest in this highlighted area. I always learn something new even in my own neck of the woods! I too echo the sentiments of others who expressed the importance of mitigation strategies. Yes, we do take precautions seriously. I receive weekly updates from the Department of Health and am grateful for their facts. This Pandemic continues to evolve. Thanks Carol for sharing the 2/13/21 update.

Posted by
12402 posts

The town of Forks isn't very attractive, and maybe not very
"happening" for most of us, but for "Twilight" fans it's ground zero.

LOL, Dick! When we made our reservation and were asked why we were coming, the nice lady on the phone was delighted that it was to hike the park and not as "Twilighters." I think she would have gone on all day about how great Olympic was if I'd have let her! Shoot, we didn't need for a happenin' place 'cause we were too bone tired at the end of our days to do much but grab supper and a beer and collapse.