Kalaloch Beach and campground

Beach or mountains? That was the question Veronica and I faced when we decided to do a last-minute camping trip. Since it is late May, and the weather isn’t generally all that warm in the mountains this early, we chose beach.

Catarina also loves the water. This was insanely cold, but she was deadset on putting her feet in at least.
Catarina also loves the water. This was insanely cold, but she was deadset on putting her feet in at least.

And that turned out to be a fantastic choice, even though the weather wasn’t exactly built for laying on a blanket catching some rays.

Crazy structure built out of driftwood on Kalaloch Beach.
Crazy structure built out of driftwood on Kalaloch Beach.

The Kalaloch Beach Campground, located on Highway 101 in Olympic National Park is really nice. We had never been there, so we were a bit unsure of what to expect. The campground offered both open and forested campsites, as well as a row of sites overlooking the beach. Those particular sites were mainly full of RVs and didn’t work for us, as there is a 30-foot bluff down to the beach and we didn’t want to have to try and keep Catarina away from the edge the entire time.

There were multiple bathrooms – though no showers – beach access trails, potable water, and the Kalaloch Lodge’s mercantile store is within walking distance to help with any provisions you may have left at home (I forgot my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal and had to go buy a new one, that she didn’t really care for; sorry Pete the Orca).

Catarina loves the beach. So, when we actually go to one that has sand, she goes crazy running around, throwing it, laying in it, digging, etc.
Catarina loves the beach. So, when we actually go to one that has sand, she goes crazy running around, throwing it, laying in it, digging, etc.

We chose a camping spot that was tucked into the trees, but still only one row away from the water – so we could still easily hear the waves crashing on the beach below.

The Destruction Island lighthouse is barely visible in the distance. Gray whales migrate between the island the beach, offering views up to campers at certain times of year.
The Destruction Island lighthouse is barely visible in the distance. Gray whales migrate between the island the beach, offering views up to campers at certain times of year.

This was the first time we had gone camping on our own, and only the fifth time we’ve been camping together (Fort Davis, Texas, Lewiston, Idaho, Rialto Beach, Lake Easton State Park and now Kalaloch), so we were a tad nervous, but this turned out to be a good spot with just enough amenities, but also a great chance to unplug from daily life and electronics. Cell phones don’t really work at this campground, except down by the water’s edge. And near the fire pit in campsite B3!

Really cool trees in the Kalaloch Beach campground.
Really cool trees in the Kalaloch Beach campground.

The only drawbacks we dealt with was choosing a site too close to the bathrooms and having to listen to some sort of pump turn on periodically. There were also mice in our campsite, but our dog, Molly, who is as far from a guard dog as can be, killed one and tried to eat it. The rest of the mice came by to check it out and then we never saw them again. There were large crows who would attack your campsite for food the second we turned out backs.

The trail from the campground down to the beach. The driftwood was pretty intense.
The trail from the campground down to the beach. The driftwood was pretty intense.

Other than that, though, it is a really great place to camp. And the beach was great as well.

Our tent all set up in the forested part of Kalaloch Beach campground.
Our tent all set up in the forested part of Kalaloch Beach campground.

It is a wide, flat sandy beach, with huge piles of driftwood. People have created shelters, structures and even a driftwood version of Stonehenge. There are signs warning against dangerous rip tides and driftwood being thrown onto people, but we certainly didn’t see anything dangerous like that.

Someone built this wood version of Stonehenge at Kalaloch Beach. It was pretty creepy looking in the fog.
Someone built this wood version of Stonehenge at Kalaloch Beach. It was pretty creepy looking in the fog.

Instead, we enjoyed a good Pacific Northwest beach – lots of gray clouds, fog and freezing cold water.

There are also signs claiming you can see gray whales from the bluffs, as they migrate back and forth, often swimming between Destruction Island (which features a lighthouse in the distance) and the beach.

Catarina and Molly had the highest of high times together on this trip.
Catarina and Molly had the highest of high times together on this trip.

We didn’t see those either, but I don’t think we were there at the right time.

Even without any whale sighting the trip was more than worth it. And at just 2.5 hours from Tacoma, it is an easy drive for the chance to get away from the stress of daily life.

– Craig Craker

If you go
Location: Olympic National Park
When: We went to the beach in late May in a year with a very warm spring and it was still cloudy and cold. I’d guess July and August are your best bets for sunny weather. It could also be fun to go here in the winter – assuming you have the right camping equipment (like an RV) – and watching the big storms that lash the area.
What: Beautiful campground, featuring sites with clear views of the Pacific Ocean as well as sites in a forest setting. Amazing beach access to a wide, sandy beach, with lots of driftwood that you are allowed to burn on the beach or bring up to your campsite.
Fees: $18-$22 per night (though it may be cheaper in non-summer months). No Olympic National Park fee to stay at this campground, or to visit this beach, Ruby Beach or the Big Cedar Tree. There is a national park fee to visit the Hoh Rain Forest, which is nearby.
Kid-friendly: This campground and beach are very kid-friendly, though the ocean viewing sites sit on a bluff high above the beach with just a split wood fence in between. We avoided those sites for that reason.

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nancy says:

    Kalaloch is one of our favorite places in the world! And, if you get bored, just drive north to the next beach. There are numbered signs and parking spots near the hiking (easy) trails down to lovely beaches. One has tide pools, another has black sand and yet another has awesome rock formations. We took a small cooler, blanket and picnics down to each one and, oft times, didn’t see another person all day!

    Like

    1. Nancy, it really was amazing we will have to go back and visit more beaches!

      Like

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