US National Parks, West Coast US

Glimpses of the Sun – Olympic National Park, Washington (part IV)

The final leg of our trip led us back out to the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula on Highway 101. Just south of the Hoh Indian Reservation is Ruby Beach. It’s a 5-minute walk to the beach and many sea stacks, the most famous of which is Abbey Island. I’m still at a bit of a loss as to why it’s called Ruby Beach. It isn’t remotely red. But I digress.

Ruby Beach
Abbey Island

Continuing south, we stopped at Beach 4 and Beach 3, the Kalaloch Campground, and then Beach 2 and Beach 1. The Kalaloch Beaches are as creatively named as the beaches at La Push. I guess when they boast sea stacks and abundant tide pools, they don’t need a catchy name to get people’s attention. Or maybe someone just wanted there to be absolutely no confusion as to the number of beaches that exist.



Tide pools at Kalaloch

dscn1418-1Anyway, the important thing to know is that Kalaloch campground is the only one in the park that takes reservations and, as it’s the most popular destination, they’re needed.

From here, Highway 101 turns inland and heads through the Quinault Indian Reservation. Route 21 leads up to the Queets River, a primitive campground, and a giant sitka spruce. Further south and east is Lake Quinault. Though located mostly on the Quinault Reservation, North Shore and South Shore roads lead back into the park and there are camping opportunities along the south shore in the Olympic National Forest. Off North Shore road is a short hike to a large Western red cedar – the world’s largest of its kind, to be exact – so it’s definitely a must-see.

Lake Quinault

Quinault was our last stop before following Highway 101 south around the peninsula and back to the mainland. All in all, our first girls-only trip was a smashing success, and we returned home with a newfound sense of confidence and ready to continue with our adventures!

The Important Stuff:

  • Getting there: to get to Kalaloch, take Highway 101 towards the southwest corner of Olympic National Park; continue south to Queets and Quinault
  • Fees & passes: $25 per car for a 7-day pass; Interagency Annual Pass accepted
  • Camping: Kalaloch is the most popular campground in the park; during the summer, reservations are accepted and are highly recommended. $22 per night, primitive camping only (no potable water). There are also campgrounds outside the park only at Quinault
  • Hiking: walk along the Kalaloch beaches to see sea stacks and tide pools; backcountry trails depart from the end of the (unpaved) roads at Queets and Quinault
  • Other: despite the fact that you’ll be walking on sand, sturdy shoes are recommended for the beaches as rocks around the tide pools are very slippery

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