Originally written for RootsRated
There are few places in the world that induce wanderlust as strongly as the coast of Olympic National Park. For 73 miles, the rugged and undeveloped beaches of the Pacific Coast of Washington State inspire countless generations. Each step along the sea stack-clad coast brings you closer to beauty and solitude, building to an unimaginable dreamscape where time as we know it vanishes. Out on the Olympic Coast, time is dictated by sunsets and tides and it is where you go to recharge your soul and connect with nature. The beaches of Olympic are where hyperbole becomes truth, and where you need to go to experience the last bastion of America’s coastal wilderness.
Seventy-three miles of uninterrupted nature is hard to fully comprehend, which is why the Olympic Coast can't be adequately seen in just one day. To best experience the region, you’ll need to camp, build a fire on the beach, catch a sunset, and then spend the next day exploring.
Along the coast of Olympic, there are three established front-country campgrounds near the breaking waves and stunning vantage points. Let one of these campgrounds serve as a great introduction to the region. For those looking for remoteness and solitude, Olympic National Park has 23 backcountry camping areas right along the coast, each more beautiful than the last. There are endless areas to camp along the coast, but five Olympic coastal sites stand out as must- experience destinations for your next adventure.
Kalaloch Beach is typically the first beach area in Olympic that visitors experience while camping. Best known for Ruby Beach and the Instafamous Root Tree, the Kalaloch Region is also home to a stunning, front-country campground that showcases jaw-dropping sunsets while providing access to miles of hiking. Located on the bluffs above the sandy, driftwood-strewn beach, the Kalaloch campground is the ideal way to easily enjoy the start of the wilderness coast while still being close to amenities. Kalaloch has 170 campsites, many of which are located directly above the slowly-eroding bluffs. Trails from each campground loop starts and ends at the beach, where you can explore tide pools and wander among iconic sea stacks.
2. Second Beach
Second Beach will steal your heart and reward your soul in ways you never knew you craved. Located at the end of a short trail, the camping area at Second Beach gives access to one of the most stunning beaches in Olympic. Past the graveyard of generations’ worth of driftwood, the sandy shores lead to jaw-dropping sea stacks and endless tide pools. This is an ideal location for those looking for the most bang for their buck in the Olympic backcountry, as it is close enough to civilization to let you run into town for any forgotten supplies. If cuddling under a blanket during a sunset over ridiculously awesome sea stacks is what you crave, Second Beach is your dream destination.
3. The Ozette Triangle
The Ozette Triangle is considered by many to be the crown jewel of Olympic National Park coastal experiences. Located along a 9.5-mile loop that starts at the remote Ozette Lake, the trail has 3.1 miles of some of the most stunning views along the impossibly beautiful Olympic Coast. Home to four camping areas, each of which require a backcountry reservation, the highlights here are as endless as the beauty. However, staying at either Cape Alava or Wedding Rocks is recommended, as they offer the best views and are close to petroglyphs and other archeological wonders. At Wedding Rocks, ancestral members of the Makah etched petroglyphs of local animals into the rock. The beach at Ozette is stunning, remote and full of amazing sea stacks and tide pools, perfect for a weekend of exploring before witnessing gorgeous sunsets.
4. Point of the Arches
The hiking and camping along Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches grant access to the most stunning stretch of coastal beauty you will ever see. The hike into Point of the Arches, where the best views are located, is 4.3 miles of ever-growing beauty. Along this popular stretch of coast, there are three camping areas, with the best located by the sea stacks at Point of the Arches. Here, sea stacks are piled up like eroding stone buildings, providing the best coastal tide pooling and photo opportunities on the west coast. Campers here will be rewarded with breathtaking sunsets between the sea stacks and the unique geological wonderland of the wilderness coast of Olympic. This is sacred ground, and one night here will be forever etched in your mind.
5. Norwegian Memorial
Situated ten miles north of Rialto Beach and ten miles south of the Ozette Triangle Trailhead, the Norwegian Memorial is one of the most secluded campsites in the National Park Service. Named for a shipwreck that killed scores of sailors in 1920, the region’s rocky coastline is filled with stunning sea stacks and a timeless beauty that will leave you in awe. Off shore, the Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary welcome whales, seals, otters, and an entire hidden world under the breaking waves and giant swells. Camping here is remote and for those lucky enough to make the trip during good weather, the gorgeous sunsets and majestic views will satiate your wanderlust and leave your soul filled with a calmness unlike anything you've experienced.
Originally written by RootsRated for Craghoppers.
Featured image provided by Douglas Scott