Winter Camping in Kalaloch (Where?)

The long beach at Kalaloch campground on the outer Olympic Peninsula offers great views out to sea.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are accustomed to rain and long stretches of gray days. So it seems odd to head for the rain forest to escape the gloom. But we've learned that even in mid-winter, the outer coast of the Olympic Peninsula often brings moments of warm sunshine among scattered rain squalls.

Kalaloch is one of our favorite destinations at this time of year. Sitting on a bluff above the many miles of uninterrupted beach, the campground here is rarely full in the off-season. We often arrive to find that some of the best view campsites are open and available, even on a weekend at this time of year. The Forest Service campground is open all year, with lots of spaces overlooking the ocean. There are no utility hookups for RVs, and no cell-phone service in this remote stretch of coastline, but this just allows visitors to soak in the experience of being here.

One of the best parts of visiting Kalaloch is the spectacular sunsets that often appear.

At night, the darkness is broken only be the stars and fishing boats just over the horizon, their lights glowing like a string of ornaments on the ocean.

In this image, a car's headlights on Highway 101 back-lit the trees. I had to wait quite awhile for this shot, as there are very few cars on the road after dark here.
Breakfast on the "Front Porch"

In the morning, we enjoyed a cup of coffee sitting atop the bluff looking over the beach. We were soon joined by a flock of crows (and one seagull trying to fit in!)

Breakfast Companions

Next up is a leisurely stroll on the beach. this is one of the few beaches in the Olympic National Park where dogs are permitted. Leashes are required, though many owners let their dogs run free.

Lucy REALLY wants to go play!

One of the things we like best about the beach here is the "Toe-Dancing Tree" - a Sitka Spruce that has spent the last several years clinging to either side of a gully over a small waterfall. Some call it the "Tree of Life" and we were relieved to see it has survived another winter (so far)

The Toe Dancing Tree on the left. Trees on the top right show the effects of this wind-swept coast, while the huge burl on the tree at bottom right is one of many to be found at First Beach just south of Kalaloch.

While we prefer the campground here, there is also a lodge with bluff-top cabins about a mile further south. The lodge has a nice restaurant and sits perched above the mouth of the river. Cabins are available to rent with a choice of river or beach view locations.

On the beach for Sunset again, I befriended Warren - a fellow photographer who is from Port Townsend.

The following day was a bit rainier, though there were plenty of dry times to take a walk on the beach. We spent much of the day inside reading, making us very grateful for a dry, warm camper to retreat to on days like this. Outside the view changed throughout the day as rain squalls moved through.

Destruction Island lies just to the north of Kalaloch.
There is an abandoned lighthouse on Destruction Island.

On the morning of our fourth day there, it was time to leave. As if to say goodbye, Kalaloch put on a brilliant rainbow display to tempt us to return soon!

Kalaloch is located on Highway 101 about 35 miles south of the town of Forks, on the outer coast of the Olympic Peninsula.

Created By
Dave Sharpe
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