As most of you are aware, Delaware North, one of the major concessionaires in America’s National Parks, recently invoked a trademark on National Park destinations in Yosemite National Park, forcing the park to change names. Within hours of the press release by Yosemite National Park officials, wilderness lover’s around the world directed their displeasure at the Buffalo, New York Company. My colleague called them Asshats, and Twitter became abuzz with hashtags like #OtherDelawareNorthCopyrights; the normal, peace-loving hiking community became angry. I too was upset, especially when I realized Delaware North is in charge of one of Washington State’s Best Lodges. The good news is that it is the only one in the state they operate. The bad news, it is Olympic National Park’s Kalaloch Lodge.
Located on bluffs high above the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, Kalaloch Lodge was in drastic need of an upgrade and renovations to meet the needs of the modern National Park traveler. Kalaloch Lodge, despite being a bit rundown, was, and still is named one of Western Washington’s premiere locations to watch a storm, but it got a little sketchy. In an area where constant storms, heavy rains and strong winds slam into the buildings, a lot of upkeep was needed. In 2012, Delaware North won an RFP to be the concessionaire for the beautifully located Kalaloch Lodge on the Pacific Coast of Washington State. Part of the deal, just like in Yosemite, was that Delaware North had to renovate and bring the lodge into the current century. So far, they have done a great job, and everyone in the region seems to really enjoy their vision for the region.
“Kalaloch Lodge prides itself on its high environmental standards. Our Three-Star Certified Green Restaurant honor is the result of our core values and the actions that we take every day through Delaware North’s environmental platform, GreenPath®. We are proud to not only offer great food and service, but reduce our impact on the environment in doing so.” ~ General Manager, Kalaloch Lodge
We were all pleased with the changes, and none of us were worried. We had assumed that Kalaloch was in good hands.
That is, until we saw what happened in Yosemite. Kalaloch is a Quinault word meaning, “a good place to land” and it is indeed just that. The region offers insanely gorgeous beach access, miles of stunning coastline and five incredible hiking destinations for the entire family. It has a huge campground and, of course, the lodge. The beaches of Kalaloch are home to Ruby Beach, the famous Root Tree (pictured below) and an amazing history, all of which could be renamed if corporations like Delaware North continue to trademark names for profit. While Mathias got into the why and how of this in his article, my focus is on the future of the beloved Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park.
For millions, the name Kalaloch has become synonymous with coastal beauty and years of family vacations. It has been the location of weddings and engagements, romantic dinners and solo moments of quiet reflection. The beaches of Kalaloch have been a sacred destination for thousands of year, and the name brings back memories of exploring tide pools and sea stacks for generations. All of that could change by 2022, when a new RFP bid to be the concessioner for Kalaloch is due.
Ten years of upgrades are a great thing, and bringing environmentally friendly practices to the rugged Washington Coast is awesome. I sincerely thank Delaware North for that. However, I can no longer trust them, and I fear that they too will lose an RFP and hold the name of Kalaloch hostage from the rightful owners of the word, the region and the resort. We are all watching you, Delaware North, and I don’t plan on taking my eyes off of your questionable actions. You took away Yosemite, even if it is temporary. You will not take away our Kalaloch.
Note: I tried to reach out to Delaware North to ask what they have planned for Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park and if they also had a trademark on the name. I did run a trademark search and couldn’t find any entries. I will update this story if and when Delaware North responds.