Photo: Maks_Ershov

Campsite with a view: Kalaoch, WA

Score a front row seat (and sleep) on the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Pitch your tent here and enjoy a million-dollar ocean view, no mortgage required. Kalaloch (kuh-lay-lock) sits on a high bluff above the beach on the western edge of Olympic National Park. Campers, simply open your rain fly to see thundering waves crashing against a broad sandy beach and a horizon that goes on forever. The ocean provides a relaxing soundtrack and each site has a fire pit and a picnic table, so there’s not much reason to leave—except for the outstanding rainforest hiking and beachcombing just steps away.

Location

The campground is on the southwest coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, a little over three hours from Seattle. It's flanked by ocean on one side, forest on the other, and is right off Highway 101. 

Best Campsites

You’re here for the views, right? Snag a spot on the western edge of the campground where the unobstructed vistas are (check the map at recreation.gov so you can pick the best site when booking). Pro tip: Stairs to the beach are in between A19 and A22 and D24 and D31. 

When to Go

Kalaloch Campground is open year-round. It’s on a first-come, first-serve basis from January 1 to late May. Online reservations are required during peak season, which runs from late May to mid-September (bookings can be made at recreation.gov). Availability for individual sites operates on a six-month rolling basis, meaning that campers should check at least six months ahead of their trip to determine when reservations open for their preferred dates. (If you miss getting a spot at Kalaloch, South Beach is just a few miles south and also offers great views, though it’s far less private).

Supplies

There’s a general store nearby at the Kalaloch Lodge that has a gas pump, firewood, snacks, and a decent selection of food (they also have a restaurant).

Photo: Joerg

Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Beach: A short flight of stairs leads to the beach below the campground. When the tide goes out, head for the tide pools to find crabs and sea urchins. The nearby Kalaloch Creek Nature Trail is a mile-long walk through the forest. Don’t miss the short hike to the so-called Tree of Life, a towering Sitka spruce clinging to the bluffs (with its root system completely exposed due to erosion). Caution: Swimming in the ocean here can be hazardous due to floating debris and rip tides; also, consult a tide table for beach hikes as the water comes all the way to the bluffs at high tide in places.

Explore Another Beach: Just seven miles north on Highway 101, you’ll find Ruby Beach (there are accessible lookout points at Ruby Beach and Beach Trail 4). Ruby is another stunning beach where tree-covered bluffs meet a rocky shoreline. Ruby is known for its many sea stacks.

Hike the Hoh Rainforest: If you only have one day, visit the Hoh. Drive an hour east into the park to the Hoh Rainforest and hike through a greenscape of old-growth trees covered in moss, large ferns and plants, and the rushing Hoh River. The area gets 140 inches of rain per year.

Paddle Lake Quinault: Just 35 minutes east, you’ll find Lake Quinault and the Lake Quinault Rainforest. Trails abound and visitors can sit in Adirondack chairs on the lawn in between the lake and the historic Lake Quinault Lodge. But first, explore the lake with a kayak or paddleboard (rentals available at the lodge). 

Details

Kalaloch has 170 sites (four of which are accessible sites) and one group site. Each has a fire ring with grates and picnic table, and the campground has food lockers and drinking water. There are no RV hookups at Kalaloch and most of the spots can’t accommodate large RVs or trailers. Cost: $24 per night (recreation.gov).

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.