Getting Soaked In Olympic National Park, Camping Above Kalaloch Beach

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I’m not even close to being done with Olympic National Park just yet. It’s one of the oldest parks in the U.S. National Parks system (set aside by TR in 1909), and it’s temptingly located just a few hours away from Vancouver. The vast park (3,733.8 km2) is divided into four distinct regions – the temperate rainforest of the west side, the woods of the drier east side, long stretches of Pacific coast, and the mountains after which the park is named.

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All four zones are accessible by vehicle, though the mountainous interior – designated as Olympic Wilderness since 1988 and looking especially daunting from the Hurricane Ridge lookout near Port Angeles – is trail only (and good luck to you). Attacking the park in just one trip is next to impossible. I’ve been before and tried. The ridiculousness of my first effort will keep me exploring it piecemeal, bit by bit and mostly around the easy peripheries.

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Last week’s trip was five days at Kalaloch, a small dot halfway (as the crow flies) on the desolate, wind-swept, sea stack-dotted west coast between Cape Flattery (the northwestern-most point in the contiguous U.S.) and Aberdeen. There’s a charming, well-equipped lodge with cabins, a restaurant for non-campers, and a six-loop campground half a click up the road, three of which were open last week (it’s currently the off-season, and all sites are first come, first served).

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Sites are $22 USD per night, and about a dozen of them are on the bluff facing the sunset right above the grey sand beach, which goes on as far as the eye can see. (Pro tip: the best site available is #D31, which is the one depicted in some of the shots and the short video below.) It’s a good base of operations for exploring the coast and places like Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach, La Push and Hoh Rainforest.

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Note that there’s little to no cell phone reception at Kalaloch. If that’s an issue for you the town of Forks is about 40 minutes north. Forks is where you’ll want to stock up on supplies and gasoline, and where you’ll find a good old school burger joint called Sully’s, a recreational weed store or two (it’s legal, folks), a Thriftway supermarket that has its own espresso bar and too many businesses holding on to the fact that the Twilight movies were filmed here.

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The town is beside the point. The point is that if you feel like getting away for a couple of nights, this is a sweet, isolated option that might just put a proper zap on your brain. Also, the tree (see below) with the roots hanging over the beach is real. Happy exploring, and don’t buy the Twilight firewood.

  • On the Coho ferry from downtown Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA
    On the Coho ferry from downtown Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA
  • Rialto Beach
    Rialto Beach
  • Dusk Pale Ale from Parkside
    Dusk Pale Ale from Parkside
  • The view from Kalaloch Lodge
    The view from Kalaloch Lodge
  • Campsite at Kalaloch
    Campsite at Kalaloch
  • Wide of the beach in front of the Kalaloch Campground
    Wide of the beach in front of the Kalaloch Campground
  • Warning
    Warning
  • Further along the beach at Kalaloch
    Further along the beach at Kalaloch
  • Comparing finds
    Comparing finds
  • James
    James
  • Kalaloch Beach
    Kalaloch Beach
  • Tide and sunset
    Tide and sunset
  • Keyhole at Ruby Beach
    Keyhole at Ruby Beach
  • The view from Kalaloch Campground
    The view from Kalaloch Campground
  • Things get moody
    Things get moody
  • Beach fire sausage fest near Rialto
    Beach fire sausage fest near Rialto
  • Alex getting into some rainy day Vonnegut
    Alex getting into some rainy day Vonnegut
  • Kalaloch Campground in the wet
    Kalaloch Campground in the wet
  • Solo stone
    Solo stone
  • Firewood!
    Firewood!
  • Ruby Beach
    Ruby Beach
  • Michelle beachcombing at sunset
    Michelle beachcombing at sunset
  • Ruby Beach in the rain
    Ruby Beach in the rain
  • Wide shot from our campsite at Kalaloch -- D31
    Wide shot from our campsite at Kalaloch -- D31
  • The tree at Kalaloch
    The tree at Kalaloch
  • Fred
    Fred
  • Me.
    Me.

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