The rugged, isolated Washington Coast is a diamond in the rough along the mighty Pacific Ocean. Known more for huge waves, serious storms and tide pools than for sun tanning, swimming, and little swimsuits, the beaches of Olympic National Park are not your typical beach destination. Over 73 miles of undisturbed natural coastline, designated as wilderness, are ready to be explored by day hikers, weekend adventurers and serious backpackers alike. Like most of Olympic National Park, the beaches are a return to pure, unfiltered wilderness. Cool, wet, breezy and beautiful, the Pacific Coast is waiting for you to explore her shores.
When the soft rays of light first tipped over the ridgeway at Crescent Lake, we were already there and ready to plop down our belongings at the lakeside campsites. By the time the remaining campers had risen from their tents, yawning and brushing out their bedhead, my friends and I were ear-to-ear smiles, ready to set sail to the coast. Our mission? Ruby Beach Washington. The most Northwest beach in the area. The energy was infectious; our mornings were spent with steaming cups of tea, enjoying the slow change in the forests’ gradient as the sun slid into view. Followed by a full days’ worth of fun.
The Olympic Peninsula is just far enough away from the large metropolises of Seattle and Tacoma to keep out the hordes of people we were avoiding, but close enough to the coast to justify day our trips out to Ruby Beach, Cape flattery, and even Neah Bay for some surfin’ fun. The ocean’s slap against the sand is louder than anyone’s voice, and the curvy roads that led in and out of the park pick up just 2 radio stations. There’s not a whole lot to distract yourself from quiet meditation.
Though Crescent Lake’s clear blue waters draw a large crowd year-round, it was the lack of cell service that solidified our choice to stay lakeside No distractions, no phone calls, and no Facebook: I’ll call that a win! A true camping experience. There’s not much else you could want-
Olympic National Park really does have it all.
The winding road that labeled Washington’s most northwestern beaches allowed little light through the trees. My eyes slowly adjusted to the bright overhead light as we left the pathway onto the driftwood-filled beaches. Sharp pinnacles rose from wet earth while the ocean kicked up a salty mist as thick as winter fog, leaving the beaches filled with a mysterious aura. A wonderland of sorts.
Ruby beach, though named after the soft glow that the land formations develop in the evening lights, is filled with discarded art made of driftwood and soft flat stones of all sizes. As you descend along the beach, huge pieces of petrified wood are planted precariously, forming makeshift teepees and other structures. Most, if not all, are filled to the brim with handmade rock mountains. If you listen long enough, you might hear the steady wind as it whistles through.
A quick leap over the frigid tide pools onto the jutting rocks leads to a magnificent view. Strong salty winds billow back my locs, and slide their fingers beneath my tank top. Though the frigid sand will numb bare feet, it’s not too cold to enjoy the summer breeze.
If you squint into the distance, you’ll make out the shape of a dilapidated lighthouse, located on an island aptly called “Destruction island”. I’ve just recently discovered that this area actually held a rather large community for its size, boasting not only shelter, but also farm animals and its own school house!
Other beach-goers stand high on the rocks, holding fishing poles or reading material. Some wade through the warmer pools left inland from high tide. A few explore the cliff faces for birds’ nests, and lovers sneak off into hidden caves just around the bend.
This is by far my favorite beach in Washington State. Ruby beach is iconic, and totally worth the drive for a visit. Tons of adventures await in this area. Have you checked out “The Outdoor Project“? It’s my favorite website to plan my explorations! And Ruby beach does have quite a few….In fact, there are even trails along the forested area just before shore. Check them out here.
If you are in need of an itinerary for your own Olympics’ trip, check out Carmen and Joe’s itinerary at PackYourBaguios