In my opinion, US 101’s short drive along Lake Crescent is every bit as impressive as its much longer trip down the Pacific Coast. The road clings to the edge of the mountainside, right at the edge of the water.
But there’s one significant difference between this drive, and the coast. Instead of gazing out on open water, you’re looking out at another mountain range, on the other side of the lake.
As it passes by Lake Crescent, US 101 is within the boundary of Olympic National Park. That means park police patrol the road, and you can count on them enforcing the leisurely 35 mile per hour speed limit. (No, I didn’t get a ticket, but I did see a few folks who were pulled over.)
At the east end of the lake, you can go for a swim, at this small beach.
The view from another roadside stop.
From here you can see US 101 running right beside the lake.
It looks just like California’s Pacific Coast, times two.
Consider exploring the lake by rowboat. The Lake Crescent Lodge rents them out, weather permitting. Don’t fall out of the boat though: it’s a long way to the bottom of Lake Crescent (at its deepest point, 624 feet!)
Note: This trip was first published in 2004.