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.
Hiking The Wilderness Coast
Wilderness Camping Permits are required for all overnight hikes on the Olympic Wilderness Coast.
Where to get a permit:
Between May 1 and September 30, permits are limited and reservations are required for all areas between Point of the Arches and Yellow Banks.
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.
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.
Hike by the Tide!
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.
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.