Olympic National Park
If you only have enough time to stop at one beach during your drive along US 101, it should be Ruby Beach. I fell in love with it, the first time I visited it back in 2004. So on this trip, I was determined to visit it again, and spend some quality time walking amongst the sea stacks and driftwood that's scattered along its shore.
Ruby Beach is located at the northern end of a short stretch of US 101 on the Olympic Peninsula, where the road runs along the Pacific coast. After you've parked the car, you'll need to take a short walk down a trail which leads to the water. Along the way you'll get a peek at what lies ahead, but to fully appreciate it you need to go all the way down the hill. Oh, and be sure you take note of where the trail enters the beach -- it could be difficult to find, if you don't remember.
Ruby Beach is located at the outlet of Cedar Creek, where the stream pours into the Pacific Ocean. To get up-close to some of the beach's best sea stacks, you'll need to cross the creek, which either involves wading in some ankle-deep water, or balancing carefully on some carefully-positioned logs, which are just upstream from where this photo was taken.
Some of the driftwood that lines the shore, has been put to good use. It may be a little rustic, but at least this oceanfront accommodation has a great view!
Then again, you might want a place with a front door. I'm not sure exactly what's crawling around on this beach, but I did spot this skeleton lying on a rock.
The beach's most recognizable landmark is bigger than a mere sea stack. Abbey Island is large enough to have some trees growing on top of it...
... and it makes for a great target for photographers, even on days when it's partially obscured by the sea fog. (It's worth noting, less than a mile inland, the sky was perfectly blue and clear.)
You don't have to stop hiking at Abbey Island. If the tide is low, you can easily make it around the small headland near the island, then hike up the beach. The mouth of the Hoh River (which is on the Hoh Indian Reservation) is about three miles away. Just make sure the tide will still be low enough to reach Ruby Beach, once you return.
At first, I was bummed out by the sea fog, as I figured it would make taking pictures difficult. I had dreamed of photos with stunningly blue skies. But as is often the case, the weather you're given ends up providing something completely different -- but equally excellent.
After you've stacked a few rounded river rocks (and perhaps tried to skip a few on the ocean), locate the trail and head back to your car, bidding farewell to this fine beach. Don't worry, you'll be back again, someday.
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