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