Beautiful Ruby Beach, on Washington’s Pacific Coast

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As you head south on US 101, your first sight of the Pacific is at Ruby Beach.  To reach the shore, you’ll have to climb over a tangled jam of logs, which have floated onto the beach.  Make a note of your entry point, so that you can find the parking area when you’re ready to leave.  There are no signs to help you, and the logs all look the same.

Be careful walking along the shoreline, when the tide is coming in. Logs that may seem solid and firm can start floating.  You could also find yourself pinned between the crashing waves and the rocky cliffs, if the rising tide floods your path.

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

The shoreline at Ruby Beach has it all: sand, pebbles, rounded stones, driftwood, and sea stacks.

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

Take off your shoes and wade in the water, while walking past the rocky sea stacks that jut upward all along the beach.  You’ll notice plenty of sea birds taking refuge on the larger rocks.

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

One of many sea stacks stands in the foreground, with Abbey Island rising up behind it.

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

This is as far north as I ventured along Ruby Beach.  Time forced me to turn around, even though I could have spent the entire day here.

As I headed up the beach, I waded in the surf.  For the trip back, I put my shoes on, and climbed on the piles of driftwood that line the shore.

It seems each log has its own character… almost ugly, but still beautiful.

Another view of the sea stacks, as fog started to roll in.

To reach Ruby Beach, you’ll have to hike a short distance through the woods.  US 101 comes close to the coast for the next dozen miles, but you’ll only catch an occasional glimpse from the highway.

If Ruby Beach isn’t remote enough for you, there are several other places you can access the Pacific, north of here.  All require a long drive away from US 101, and then, a long hike to the shore.  Almost all of them lie within the bounds of the Olympic National Park, and your park map will tell you how to reach them.

Beach #4

Heading south from Ruby Beach, you’ll pass six numbered beaches (Starting with Beach 6, ending with Beach 1).  They’re poorly marked, so just stop whenever you see a parking area at the side of the road.  I stopped for a moment at Beach 4, but didn’t make the hike down to the water, since the scenery was similar to what I had just seen at Ruby Beach.

Another view of Beach 4.

You may be getting hungry at this point.  Fortunately, there is a park-run lodge, restaurant, and gas station between beaches 2 and 3.  Kalaloch Lodge didn’t have the world’s best food or service, but the view from the dining room helped make up for it.

After that stop, continue heading south, past Beaches 2, 1, and South Beach, the final Pacific access point before US 101 turns inland.

Kalaloch Lodge offers cabins with a breathtaking view of the Pacific, but good luck trying to make a reservation. The cabins book up months in advance, and are very pricey.

Note: This trip was first published in 2004.

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