The first half of our trip was focused around the waterfalls, driving past panoramic lakes and mountains. While those sights were breathtaking, my favorite part of our road trip rests in the second half of our trip: the Olympic Peninsula Coastline.
Note: This is the second half in a series on our road trip. You can find the first half here.
Starting this day off in a campground just northwest of Forks, we were ready to see the ocean! Another good night, but it gets so cold at night and I was not prepared for that. Luckily, we had stopped and picked up some sleeping pads at walmart and they worked wonderfully. If you’re thinking of camping out any time of the year I’d highly recommend getting one of these.
A little further along the road was the first beach on the Olympic Peninsula Coastline: Rialto Beach. It’s a beautiful beach covered in giant logs of driftwood that are great for resting your feet or exploring.
While the beach closest to the parking lot is beautiful, if you’re up for the hike, a more breathtaking sight rests just 2 miles north. It’s not an easy trek, walking on sand makes it feel much longer than 2 miles. You can’t beat the view though, waves crashing on one side while the olympic rainforest looms from the other.
A warning: You do have to cross a small river on your way there. It’s only a few feet wide, but too wide to jump across. There are some fallen trees you can use to cross but it’s a little tricky. I’m sure in the summer it’s much easier, just take off your shoes and walk across! But in any other season, if you don’t have waterproof boots? Not fun.
Along the way you might see some tents and this is a great place to go camping if you’d want to. You do have to get past the river until you’re allowed to camp though and there was just no way we were hauling all of our stuff down there and across a river with a baby.
Hole in the wall
The goal of this long beach hike is Hole in the wall, an outcropping of rocks that, when the tide is low, you can walk under a rock arch. From a distance it looks a bit like an elephant and it is just breathtaking. And this is where we find my second warning: check the tide tables!
When we went, the tides were still too high to walk through the arch, and it was a little disappointing. Luckily there are other sea stacks all around, some that you can walk right up to if the tides are right, and seeing the waves crash between them was beautiful.
This was my favorite sight along the Olympic Peninsula Coastline. It felt like we were walking through a scene from a fantasy movie. If we had food and a tent I could have happily stayed there for days just appreciating the changing views as the tides and weather rolled by.
Just southwest of Forks, there are 3 beaches aptly named First, Second and Third. Each have their own charms (and hikes) and we decided to try for Second beach. This beach rests behind a decent trek through the forest, which is definitely not stroller friendly (though a local insisted it was). We ditched ours about halfway through and carried the little man the rest of the way.
The beach was beautiful and sandy if a bit crowded for my liking. It had sea stacks on either side, making it feel almost like a private oasis. In the summer I’m sure it would be perfect for swimming, and even in the chill there were still some people wading around in the waves.
I’m not going to lie, we almost didn’t make it back. We were just so exhausted, we were really struggling, but we made it and needed a good break for lunch before we’d be up for any more exploring. We also decided to drive around Forks a bit more, determined to try to find some Twilight sights. There isn’t much else in the city, there are a few decent restaurants, some shops, and lots of signs mentioning vampires.
A third warning: Forks is a cell phone dead zone. If you’re planning on using your phone’s GPS to find anything, print out back up directions just in case. While we did manage to find Bella’s truck and a visitor center with more information on the movie sights, by that time we needed to get on the road to our next beach.
Next, we attempted to go into the Hoh Rainforest, to see the beautiful trees dripping with moss and the alien landscape. Unfortunately, the park was at maximum when we arrived and they were only letting a car in when one left. We had a lot more left on our list though so we had to give up and turn around.
If the rainforest is a must see, get there early or be prepared for a wait on the busier weekends. The drive is beautiful and I only got the chance to snap a couple pictures out of the windows. I can only imagine what the rest of the rainforest looks like but sadly, I’ll just have to keep imagining.
This beach is a short drive south of Forks and was about halfway to our next campsite. It was also the last beach of our trip. Completely different from Second beach, this one was almost entirely made of rocks and had a whole different kind of fun. It was much more baby friendly (babies and sand just isn’t a good combo). Our little man loved playing with the various rocks there as we made rock towers.
This beach is also a much easier walk, no need to hike up a mountain, a stroller will make it the whole way. Because of this it is also a bit more crowded but it’s still a very nice beach.
Originally we had planned to spend one more night, see a couple more waterfalls and then spend some time in Olympia. However, by the time we pulled up to the next campsite we were exhausted. Not sure if we had another day in us, we decided it’d be much better for us all if we went home early. That way we could have a day of rest before we had to get back to real life.
It’s so important when traveling, especially with children, to be flexible and plan in plenty of time for rest. If you have to skip some sights, you do it, but you have a much happier experience and a happier family at the end.
In the end, because we followed that guideline, we had a wonderful trip. We saw so much of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer and I would highly recommend it. Even if you only have a day, the variety of things to do and see is amazing. There is something for everyone.
[fts_pinterest type=boards_list pinterest_name=WanderingAcres boards_count=4]