We left Mount Rainier NP and headed for the Washington coast and Olympic NP. I was elated for a couple of reasons:
- It means we’re finally on the West Coast! Technically, we were on the west coast when we crossed the border from Vancouver, but now we were actually setting foot on Washington coastline. 🌞
- I’m a beach bum at heart and as much fun as I’ve had traipsing through mountains and creeks and rivers, I was excited to sneak a peek at and cautiously dip a toe or two – because who are we kidding, the water’s freezing – in the Pacific Ocean.
It’s not easy getting to all the sights at Olympic National Park, mainly because everything is quite spread out and the park is so big. Almost all the main areas of the park are accessed via the US-101, which encircles the park, or thorough off shoot roads from the 101. The more popular sections include Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rainforest, and the coastal regions. With only a few days to spare, our itinerary was sadly comprised only of sights around the coast and Hoh Rainforest.
RV/Oversized vehicle parking: We camped at Kalaloch Beach. It’s a lovely campground with trees and views of the ocean from select sites. Advanced reservations can be made on www.recreation.gov.
There are no hookups here and during our stay, the dump station was closed, but the salty ocean air and foggy mornings made up for any inconveniences. Just a mile down the street you’ll also find the small visitor’s center and a little convenient store for supplies, or in our case, to load up on soft-serve ice cream. 🍦😁
You can access paths down to the beach easily from the campground. What we loved was that the beaches are dog friendly, a rarity at national parks where dogs aren’t even allowed on trails. Misty and Max loved frolicking on the beach and we spent a few relaxing afternoons sitting on the sand and watching whales spouting off shore. 🐳 😍
Beach 4 and Ruby Beach
Drive north along the coast from Kalaloch campground and you’ll soon arrive at Beach 4, a good place for long walks, tidepooling and hay/seastack spotting. The same can also be said of Ruby Beach, located north of Beach 4. Parking can be limited at this popular spot. Be sure to check in at a visitor’s center to find out when low tide occurs for the best tidepool viewing.
Seastacks are geological formations of vertical rock located off shore, created through wave and wind erosion.
The Hoh rainforest is a nice contrast to the coastline. The fern lined paths and moss and lichen draped trees make for a peaceful and beautiful hike. You’ll also likely spot a few elk here. There are some good and easy self-guided hiking options worth checking out that conveniently begin at the Hoh rainforest visitor center: Hall of Mosses Trail (0.8 mi) and Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 mi).