The huge battered Sitka spruce logs that mark the border between beach and forest give Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park the feel of a giant’s graveyard. In the late part of a cloudy early spring day, the cobble beach stretched away to the north. The dark, gray afternoon really suited the mood of the beach and gave it a feeling of emptiness—even close to the parking lot (which is right at the beach) there were few people on this popular beach.
The tide wasn’t in my favour and the light was failing, but I walked far enough to get a taste of the beach and some ideas for a return trip. Further along the beach across Ellen Creek (where I turned around) were a set of spectacular sea stacks, and according to guidebooks the coast gets more and more interesting as you go further north.
This beach gives you the sense that you’re at the edge of the continent. The coast is open and exposed and the gigantic drift “trees” (I saw nothing that big while working with Parks Canada out at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island) give the impression that you’re walking through a graveyard littered with giants’ bones. The beach is backed by a dark, weather beaten stand of Sitka spruce. A desolate place on this day.
While the landscape was stunning, it was the drift logs that kept drawing my attention. The bleached and storm smoothed wood formed fantastical sculptures that suggested the awe inspiring remains of long dead leviathans. I’ll definitely be returning to Rialto Beach again—it’s a moody and reflective place.
This was the second major stop on a spring break road trip down the coast of Washington and Oregon following Route 101. In my next couple of posts I’ll be highlighting some of the spectacular beaches around Gray’s Harbour where I spent two full days. There’ll be a couple of posts about more recent Vancouver Island trips we’ve taken coming soon as well.
Rialto Beach is located on the north side of the Quillayute River. From Route 101 follow 110 (junction near Forks, Washington) towards La Pushe. Turn right on Mora Road, which will take you to the parking area and the beach.