Pleasantly Surprised by Sol Duc

Countless times I’ve driven over the Sol Duc River on my way to points westward. I’ve camped in the lower campground, but have always stayed clear of the springs and resort; mainly due to the fact that encountering crowds while out in the wilderness seems a bit of an oxymoron. But I have to say I had it wrong

History of Sol Duc

The first resort complex, and there have been a few, was opened for business in 1912 by timber baron Michael Earles at the Sol Duc Hot Springs. By all accounts it was a luxurious four-star hotel  boosting 165 rooms, 100 bed sanatorium, a large bathhouse, and gymnasium, golf links, tennis courts, croquet grounds, and more.

Sol Duc Falls
The Sol Duc Falls and its three main shots. Located in the Olympic National Park. Photograph by Steve Weileman (

The centerpiece of the half-million-dollar resort was the four-star hotel. Each of the 165 guestrooms had view windows, electricity, steam heat, hot and cold running water, and telephones. The first story was constructed of massive upright fir logs and surrounded on three sides by a wide veranda. The large, ornate main lobby boasted brass chandeliers, massive pillars with gilt trim, and a huge fireplace.

For four years the resort attracts tens of thousands of visitors from across the country and as far away as Europe. Then in 1916 a disastrous fire levels virtually the entire complex. New facilities are built in subsequent years at Sol Duc Hot Springs, which since 1966 has been a concession of the Olympic National Park, but none come close to matching Earles’s short-lived vacation paradise.

The Sol Duc Falls

I can’t say I was all the tempted to get in the waters of the springs. The 3 pools were packed with people shoulder to shoulder. Slice a few lemons in the water and you’d have a shrimp boil.

But, once we hit the trail Saturday morning to hike up to the falls, we had the forest to ourselves. Perhaps the forecast for rain was keeping people away, but the rain held off till late in the afternoon. The easy hike up to the falls was well worth the minimum effort. As we were hiking I did find what I assume was a remnant of the first resort. I notice some old insulators high in some of the tree bordering the trail. I’m assuming at one point there may have been a phone line ran to the falls. I’d love to hear from anyone who knows more about this.

After spending time at the falls we decided to hike up to Mink Lake. However about half way there we ran into deep snow which turned us back. We were just below 3000’ and whenever we hit an open area the view was spectacular.

Although we were turned back we’re already making plans to return in the fall.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Stacy

    Glad you made the choice to check out the falls. So many pleasant surprises to be enjoyed in our PNW!

    1. Steve Weileman

      True! And I’m getting lots of great tips from you guys. 🙂

      1. Stacy

        We appreciate your interactions! It makes us crazy happy to know we can inspire!

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