A 3-Day Grand Circle Trip around the Olympic Peninsula

3-Day Great Circle Olympic Peninsula

A 3-Day Grand Circle Trip around Olympic National Park

This was a fantastic 3-day driving trip to visit the Lake Quinault Lodge on Lake Quinault (Day 1), the Lake Crescent Lodge (Day 2), and a final day’s drive through the legendary town of Forks, WA — infamous for its scenes in the Twilight movie series — and the northern coastline of the Olympic Peninsula on the way back to the starting point, Bainbridge Island, WA (Day 3).

The 350+ mile drive distributes fairly evenly over the three days and takes you past incredible scenery including rivers, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, incredible gigantic and mystical trees, a few interesting towns, two great Olympic National Park lodges as well as good food . . . There is not excessive driving, so the daily driving distances do not overwhelm.

The ‘Perfect Storm’

But the highlight of this particular journey, however, was experiencing the aftermath of a rare strong northwestern Pacific storm — a ‘Perfect Storm’ — which, fortunately, does not happen very often. An incredible weekend spent at the two lake lodges — Lake Quinault and Lake Crescent — after a ‘perfect storm!’

Of course, the perfect place to be after the perfect storm is circling the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, surveying the awesomeness of ‘Mother Nature.’ Fortunately, all the pluses and none of the negatives of such a storm were in evidence on that weekend all throughout the Olympic Peninsula.

The fireplace, shown below, at the Lodge at Lake Crescent (Day 2) was the perfect place to cap off this wonderful and surreal adventure.

Lodge at Lake Crescent

No one wants to be in the ‘perfect storm,’ but if you just happen to be in the vicinity of the Lodge at Lake Quinault during a recent tempest, like I was, you couldn’t help experience the awesomeness of surrounding ‘Mother Nature.’ Fortunately, there was not any significant damage — so I am thankful for that!

Having said this, I now want to share with you that driving around the entire lake in a grand circle (dodging fallen branches, new potholes, and the like) to survey the whole post-storm scene was simply surreal. It was as if the skies opened up to reveal awesome nature without anyone being hurt—and without any significant damage to homes and structures.

You cannot imagine the raging streams, creeks, rivers, cascades, and the lake — not to speak of the hanging clouds, the fog, the mist, and all the mysterious pieces of that whole scene that came together in what must be a once-in-a-century visage that is so rarely experienced by anyone.

Capping off this trip around the lake was my stop at the end of Day 2 — warming up by the fire at the Lodge at Lake Crescent, where I overnighted on my second night of my two-night journey circling the Olympic Peninsula within the Olympic National Park.

Day One:

The goal for Day 1 was to arrive early enough at the Lake Quinault Lodge to relax, briefly survey the area, enjoy a good meal, take shelter from a growing storm and enjoy the solitude of the wilderness setting.


 Day Two:

Starting out, I wanted to drive all around the lake to survey the aftermath of this significant storm. What I saw was much more than I expected: raging streams, cascading waterfalls everywhere, fog and mist, flooding, potholes, branches and debris, the occasional downed tree — the general aftermath of a significant winter storm.

The scene bordered on the surreal and the mystical. And you did not know if you would be able to circumnavigate the lake. Thus — given the combination of slight anxiety, or nervous anticipation of not knowing if  you were going to get through or not, plus the flooding and storm debris — you had the perfect mix for a bit of an exciting adventure!

Lake Quinault 2

Lake Quinault 4


Day Three:

The final day was devoted to the return to home base, Bainbridge Island. This was an easy, leisurely drive that permitted a brief break in Port Angeles and a relatively early arrival back home.

Having pure fun on such a grand-circle adventure around the Olympic Peninsula you do such silly, stupid things as stop for a ‘Blizzard’ at a Dairy Queen towards the end of the journey. I mean, what is a great adventure without the occasional crazy stupit diversion, huh?

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