PORT ANGELES, Wash. — “There's not a lot of lakes like this left in America,” says Pam Dahl.
She came out to the lake as a college student 44 years ago and never left. She's now operations manager at Lake Crescent Lodge.
“Everybody's happy to be on vacation so you get the best of the best,” she says.
Of course, it costs money to rent one of the lakefront cottages there, but you don’t have to spend money to visit the lake or the lodge.
“The National Parks are owned by the people,” she says. “You are welcome on the property anytime. You're welcome to come in and leisurely sit by the fire or sit out on the sun porch have a glass of wine while the sun goes down”.
We should note the wine isn’t free, but there is a fresh water dispenser at the bar.
We ran into Seattle’s Patty Compton sitting with family and looking out at the lake.
“It's just gorgeous,” she said. “It's a beautiful lake”.
There are free hiking trails here that won't wear you down. The Moments in Time trail begins at the lodge and has information placards. On the north side of the lake, there's the Spruce Railroad trail that goes through old tunnels.
“And then there's the Devils Punch Bowl,” Dahl says. “A lot of people climb the side of the hill, 20-30 feet high, and jump in at their own risk.”
We should note Pam Dahl has never jumped off the cliff. She finds the water far too cold.
The lake is quiet now but there is seasonal boating and catch and release fishing here.
“The Beardslee Trout is kind of an ugly bugger that is about one third fish head,” Dahl laughs. “And they used to grow as big as a salmon.”
If you're more into birding, that is also free. We spotted quite a few examples of Anas Platyrhynchos, Mallard ducks. They are practically tame and enjoy long romantic walks on the beach.
As does Pam Dahl, “It is a great escape. Just to disconnect, get away from the city, enjoy nature, see some wildlife, just relax and unwind, we all need that.”
Lake Crescent won Best Free Adventure in the 2019's Best Northwest Escapes.