Last Updated on June 30, 2022
About Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States and is one of the most beautiful places on the Washington coast. Located in Washington state, the park is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, including rainforests, mountains, and coastline. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, eagles, and bears. Olympic National Park is a great place to explore the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
With its towering cliffs, crashing waves, and stunning sunsets, it’s no wonder that Ruby Beach is one of the most popular destinations in the park.
The sea stacks and natural arches are breathtaking. The rough waters have done a wonderful job carving the natural arches. When we refer to sea stacks, we are talking about the large rock formations that are seen off of the main beach area. We loved exploring the erosion of the sea stacks and found some fantastic tide pools around the bases. We even saw a couple that had holes in the middle of the stacks where the water can flow through.
How To Get To Ruby Beach In Olympic National Park
Ruby Beach is the northernmost of the southern beaches in the coastal section of Olympic National Park in the U.S. state of Washington. Like virtually all of the beaches on the northern coast, Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park has a tremendous amount of driftwood and it is notable for the number of sea stacks there. The beach is so-called because of the ruby-like crystals in the beach sand.
Ruby Beach is a three-hour drive from Seattle and two hours from Olympia, WA. With its remote location, you’ll love that the extra effort to get there rewards you with smaller crowds.
From the parking lot, it is a short, but easy hike to the beach. You know a beach is going to be good when it takes that extra little bit of effort to get there. To access the beach at the end of the trail, you will have to cross some driftwood. If you feel like you are not surefooted, take it slow and you’ll be totally fine making your way across a few logs.
As you are making your descent from the parking lot to the shore, take some time to stop and enjoy the views from between the trees.
How Long To Spend At Ruby Beach
A weekend was not enough to experience Olympic National Park. We split our time between where we stayed, at Kalaloch Lodge, and Ruby beach. Early mornings found us wandering in a dreamy mist that slowly disappeared for the day before the sun began to set. It would have been nice to have the beaches in their full blue sky splendor, but any day is a good and beautiful day to wander at a beach! Plus, we pretty much felt like we had the entire beach to ourselves as the few others that were there were so far from us wherever we wandered.
The wilderness coast at Ruby beach really provides a dramatic scene with its driftwood, dark sand, rocks, and reflecting pools. We did not find any sea stars but were able to find plenty of sea anemones and sea urchins. It was a little cold to go in the water, but the kids sure didn’t mind getting wet anyway!
While you could go to Ruby Beach for a day trip from Seattle if you really wanted, we highly recommend extending your stay for at least the night. If you have a few days, you will not want to miss adding on the beaches of Kalaloch and La Push. Also, the dreamy Hoh Rainforest nearby is an experience you will not want to pass up.
Where To Stay Near Ruby Beach
For our weekend away, we stayed at the Kalaloch Lodge. While it was very dated, it was a comfortable and simple stay. The bonus of staying at Kalaloch Lodge is that the beach was only a hop, skip, and a jump from the doorstep of our suite. Another lodging option is the Lake Quinault Lodge, which is within 45 minutes of the area.
If you would rather camp, the Kalaloch campground is very popular and is right beside the lodge.
Make your reservations a month in advance, at a minimum. Olympic National Park can fill up extremely fast, both camping and lodging. The Kalaloch campground does have a select number of first-come-first-served sites, but we would not count on getting a guaranteed spot.
Rules To Know When Visiting Ruby Beach
As part of Olympic National Park, Ruby Beach is protected. You cannot take anything from the beach. Though there are many incredible shells, rocks, and driftwood to find, you must leave it.
Ruby Beach, as part of a National Park, is also a no-drone zone. Do not risk the hefty fine or confiscation of your equipment from your expensive hobby. It is so pretty out there that it was SO very tempting for us to bring the drone along. If you’re tempted, review the basic guidelines about drones.
Swimming At Ruby Beach
You can swim at Ruby Beach, but the water will be cold. It feels a little more refreshing during the warm summer months, but it was not very warm during our visit. The kids did not seem to mind as they got soaked in their clothes, having a jolly old time splashing away in the shallow pools.
When the tide is out and the shallow pools form, it is the best time for small kids to play. When the tide is in, it is possible to get caught in strong rip tides. It can be a scary experience as if you swim against the current, it will pull you out to sea. Little kids may not remember to swim to the side if they find themselves stuck in the ripping current.
Tidepooling At Ruby Beach
Tidepooling is one of our favorite things to do at the beach, for both the kids and us adults. The underwater world is absolutely fascinating and there are always great sights to be seen in tide pools. We found some fascinating tide pools around the base of the stacks, and around the top and sides of exposed rocks after the tide goes out. We were hoping to find some pretty starfish to admire, but we did not have any luck this time. We loved the variety of colors of sea anemones that we found — they always have such an eerie but incredible look about them.
We have even heard of people finding some nudibranchs, and small octopuses. If your first tide pooling experience does not go as well as you had hoped, get out there again and keep searching.