Hiking The Wilderness Coast

View along the Olympic Wilderness Coast

Olympic National Park protects over 73 miles of the some of the most primitive natural coastline in the 48 contiguous United States. The views of ocean, cliffs, headlands, islands and seastacks, coupled with the dramatic changing sea, provide a unique wilderness experience. Most of the coast can only be accessed by foot. Rialto Beach and Kalaloch beaches are accessible by road.


Wilderness Camping Permits are required for all overnight hikes on the Olympic Wilderness Coast.

Where to get a permit:

  1. Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles
  2. South Shore Lake Quinault Ranger Station

Between May 1 and September 30, permits are limited and reservations are required for all areas between Point of the Arches and Yellow Banks.


Coastal Camping
Camping is permitted along the wilderness coast, except between the Quillayute River and Ellen Creek. Along the Kalaloch strip south of the Hoh River, camping is only allowed in developed frontcountry campgrounds.

Permits are limited for camping between Yellow Banks and Point of the Arches; reservations are required for trips between May 1 and September 30.

Only a limited number of traditional forested campsites are located adjacent to the beach.

Many visitors choose to camp on the beach itself, which can be done in some areas above the high tide line. These sites offer less shelter from wind, sun and weather than the forested sites, but reduce resource damage.

Building driftwood shelters or furniture is discouraged, as it takes away from the coast's wilderness character.

On the coast, all food, garbage and scented items must be stored in bear canisters. See Coastal Food Storage for more information.

Water Purification
We recommend boiling water or using a water filter or other treatment that kills or filters giardia and cryptosporidium. Iodine tablets do not kill cryptosporidium.


Wood gathering in forests adjacent to the beach has extensively impacted trees and other vegetation in many coastal camp areas. Cut stumps, cut or broken lower branches of trees, compacted soil and trampled plants are evidence of this impact. To allow for the recovery of heavily-impacted coastal areas, gather wood from the beach only.

Always build your fires on the beach only and keep them at least ten feet from beach logs and below the high tide line. Remove any evidence of the fire before you leave. Leave No Trace!

Because of tree and vegetation damage from campers campfires are not permitted north of Yellow Banks to the headland at Wedding Rocks. This includes the Sand Point area.

Olympic Wilderness Coast near Norwegian Memorial
Headland near Norwegian Memorial

Hike by the Tide!

The tide can trap you! Do not attempt to round headlands without knowledge of the tide heights and times.

Along the ocean, rising water can corner you below cliffs. People have died along the Olympic wilderness coast trying to beat the tide. Some headlands require low tides for passage. Some can NEVER be rounded safely even at the lowest tides, so overland routes must be taken.

Before traveling along the coast, obtain a detailed topographic map. Your map should indicate areas where tides may be a problem, and the tidal height at which headlands become hazardous or impossible to round.


Toilets and Sanitation

Toilets are located at each of the main concentrations of campsites at Cape Alava and Sand Point, and at various other high use camp areas along the beach. In the absence of a toilet, dig a cat hole 200 feet from any campsite or water source in the forest to dispose of human waste.

A busy day at Shi Shi Beach
A Wilderness Ranger talking with campers about illegal food storage

Sarah Bouska, NPS

The Coast can be Crowded!

If you are planning a trip to the coast, keep in mind that it is very popular during the spring, summer and early fall months. It is not uncommon to arrive at a location like Shi Shi Beach or Third Beach and not be able to find a place to put your tent.

Tents at Shi Shi Beach
Tents along Shi Shi Beach

Sarah Bouska, NPS

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

600 E. Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362


(360) 565-3130

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