A Guide for Visiting Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Washington

Three people wading in Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Washington

If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure, then Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park is an excellent choice. Nestled in the Olympic Mountains, this place is a wonderland for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. If you are looking for a peaceful getaway with mesmerizing views and serene surroundings, then this should be your next destination. In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know to make the most of your trip to Lake Crescent.

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Where is Lake Crescent?

Lake Crescent is located in the heart of the Olympic National Park in the U.S. state of Washington. Nestled amidst the majestic Olympic Mountains, it lies to the west of Port Angeles and about 22 miles southwest of the township of Sequim. This pristine, deep blue lake is a highlight of the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula, offering both scenic beauty and a myriad of outdoor activities.

How to get to the lake

Lake Crescent is located in Olympic National Park, Washington which isn't the most convenient place to get to since it's at the furthest northwestern point of the USA.

Seattle, WA to Lake Crescent: 106 mi | 3 hr 11 min | Google Maps

Portland, OR to Lake Crescent: 252 mi | 4 hr 34 min | Google Maps

Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC to Lake Crescent: 74 km | 2 hr 31 min | Google Maps

How deep is Lake Crescent?

Lake Crescent is known for its striking depth and clarity. Breathtakingly, it plunges to a maximum depth of about 624 feet (190 meters), making it one of the deepest lakes in the state of Washington. Its impressive depth contributes to its stunning blue color, as the deep waters absorb all colors of incoming light except for the color blue, which gets reflected back to our eyes.

Three people wading in Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

Can you swim in Lake Crescent?

Absolutely, you can swim in Lake Crescent! Its crystal-clear waters make it a popular spot for swimming during the summer months. However, keep in mind that the lake is glacier-fed, which means the water can be quite chilly, even in the height of summer. Always ensure safety by never swimming alone, and keep an eye on children at all times. It's also a good idea to wear a life jacket, especially if you're venturing further out. Remember, while the lake’s beauty is inviting, its depths and cold temperatures can be deceiving. So, enjoy the refreshing swim, but always play it safe!

Are dogs allowed at Lake Crescent?

Yes, dogs are allowed at Lake Crescent and they are allowed to swim! However, like in most national parks, there are some restrictions to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, including wildlife. Dogs must always be on a leash no longer than six feet, and are not permitted on certain trails, beaches, and buildings. Always clean up after your pet to maintain the pristine environment of the park. Remember, these rules are in place to protect the delicate ecosystem of the park, as well as your furry friend and other visitors.

Where to stay near the Lake Crescent

For those who love to camp, there are several campsites in the park, including the Fairholme Campground, the Log Cabin Resort, and the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. There are lodges available near the lake as well, such as the Lake Crescent Lodge, which offers cabins, cottages, and rooms with stunning views of the lake.

Fairholme Campground

Fairholme Campground is a splendid choice for those who enjoy being close to nature. Located on the western shore of Lake Crescent, this campground offers basic amenities including picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking water. Its proximity to the lake makes it a perfect spot for swimming, fishing, and boating, and the surrounding forests provide ample opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting.

Fairholme Campground: Port Angeles, WA 98362 | Google Maps

Log Cabin Resort

The Log Cabin Resort offers a quintessential lakeside experience, perfectly blending rustic charm with modern comforts. With options ranging from cabins, lodge rooms, to even Lakeside Chalets, every guest is sure to find an accommodation style that matches their needs, all while enjoying spectacular views of Lake Crescent.

Log Cabin Resort: 3183 E Beach Rd, Port Angeles, WA | Google Maps

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort offers a unique experience, allowing guests to relax and rejuvenate in therapeutic mineral hot spring pools while surrounded by the natural beauty of Olympic National Park. Its comfortable accommodations and close proximity to Lake Crescent make it an ideal base for exploring the serene wilderness of the area.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort: 12076 Sol Duc-Hot Springs Rd, Port Angeles, WA | Google Maps

What to do while visiting the lake

Lake Crescent has something for everyone. Depending on your interests, time of year you're visiting, and physical limitations, you can do a lot of different things in and near Lake Crescent.

Here are some activities that you can indulge in while visiting Lake Crescent:

  1. Hiking: There are numerous trails around the lake, including the famous Marymere Falls trail and the Storm King trail, both offering stunning views of the lake and the surrounding forest.
  2. Kayaking and Canoeing: Lake Crescent is perfect for paddling. You can rent kayaks and canoes from the Log Cabin Resort or bring your own.
  3. Fishing: The lake is home to two unique species of fish - the Beardslee trout and the Crescenti cutthroat. Remember to follow all state fishing regulations.
  4. Picnicking: There are several picnic spots around the lake where you can relax and enjoy a meal amidst nature.
  5. Swimming: While the water can be cold, a summer dip in the lake is a refreshing experience.
  6. Photography: With its crystal-clear waters and surrounding mountains, Lake Crescent offers ample opportunities for photography.
  7. Wildlife Watching: The area around the lake is home to a variety of wild animals like black bears, elk, and a myriad of bird species.
  8. Stargazing: On clear nights, the lack of city lights makes Lake Crescent an excellent place for stargazing.
  9. Visit the Lake Crescent Lodge: Built in 1916, this historic lodge offers good food, stunning views, and a glimpse into the history of the area.
Girl in blue swimsuit gets ready to dive into Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

What to pack for a trip to the lake

Make sure to pack according to the season. During the summer months, temperatures can reach the low 80s, while winter temperatures can dip into the 30s. It's always wise to pack layers, regardless of the season, as weather conditions can change rapidly. Comfortable shoes and a backpack are a must, especially if you plan on hiking. Don't forget your camera, sunscreen, and bug spray.

  1. Garmin inReach Mini 2: We never set off on a trail without this emergency SOS device. Yes it comes with a price tag but it's one of the best investments we've ever made.
  2. Hiking Boots: Sturdy and waterproof hiking boots are a must for navigating the trails of Olympic National Park.
  3. Swimsuit: If you plan to hop into Lake Crescent for a swim, don't forget your bathing suit!
  4. Waterproof Clothing: With the park's unpredictable weather, waterproof jackets and pants are essential.
  5. Layers: Pack breathable layers for hot and sunny days, and warm layers for when the temperature drops. For more information about how to properly layer for the outdoors checkout this guide by REI.
  6. Backpack: A comfortable backpack is crucial for carrying your essentials during hikes.
  7. Hydration: Bring a reusable water bottle. Hydration stations are available at visitor centers.
  8. Snacks: Energy bars or trail mix could provide the necessary fuel during long treks.
  9. Maps and Compass: While the park's trails are well-marked, a map and compass can be useful backup.
  10. First-Aid Kit: Always carry a basic first-aid kit for emergencies.
  11. Sun Protection: Bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen to protect against the sun's rays.
  12. Insect Repellent: To keep the bugs at bay during your visit.
  13. Camping Gear: If you plan on camping, be sure to bring all necessary gear including a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, and a headlamp.
Girl looks at Lake Crescent from above on Mount Storm King hiking trail, Olympic National Park

Safety tips for visiting the lake

While exploring this beautiful park, it's essential to stay safe. The park is home to various wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and wolves. It is best to carry bear spray and make noise while hiking to avoid surprising any animals. Always stay on designated trails and follow the rules and regulations set by the park to prevent any harm to the environment or yourself.

Final thoughts

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park is truly a nature lover's paradise. From its pristine waters and lush forests to the endless opportunities for adventure, there is something for everyone here. Keep in mind the information provided in this guide and pack accordingly, respect the environment, and have a safe, enjoyable journey. We hope you fall in love with this enchanting place and make unforgettable memories.

Like this article? Checkout these other Washington and national park travel guides.

A Guide for Visiting Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Washington
A Guide for Visiting Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Washington

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