If you’ve spent a long day, driving past beaches and through rain forests, it could be easy to rush by Lake Crescent, on your way to a comfy hotel bed. But you should make an effort to stop somewhere along the lake’s shore, to soak in this beautiful jewel of Olympic National Park.
Lake Crescent is a natural lake, though it was formed by a dam, of sorts. Geologists believe a landslide formed the dam that allowed the lake to fill in, probably about 8,000 years ago. The depth of the lake remains questionable — the park service puts it at 624 feet, though other measurements have suggested it’s at least 1,000 feet deep. One thing is for certain: it’s deep blue, thanks to a lack of nitrogen which limits algae growth.
US 101 skirts the southern edge of the lake — oftentimes just a few feet away from the shoreline. A restrictive speed limit will encourage you to slow down and enjoy the views from the road.
Stopping at the side of the highway can be a bit more challenging. There are parking areas, but they never seem to be in the exact right spot for photographing the lake and surrounding mountains. I managed to stop in a couple of spots. That might be Pyramid Mountain in the photo above (Pyramid Mountain is on the northern side of the lake, near its eastern end)…
… and this is probably Mount Storm King (which is on the south side of the water, near the lake’s eastern end — essentially across the water from Pyramid).
While Lake Crescent was beautiful, that comfortable bed in Port Angeles was luring me, and I had to leave the lake behind, without exploring any of its hiking trails or other recreational opportunities.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive along Lake Crescent, then on into Port Angeles, on US 101: