Brake for Nature

Olympic National Park – The West Coast Beaches

Rialto Beach

From our home base at Riverview RV Park in Forks, Rialto Beach was a short drive down Mora Road along the Quillayute River. We made the drive on our first afternoon in Forks after setting up camp. We arrived at Rialto Beach, got out of the truck, and were blasted by the wind and cold coastal air. We bundled up and headed out to the sand. Wow! The coast up here in Washington, and especially at Rialto Beach, is jaw-dropping, stunningly beautiful! This is one of those places where you really feel humbled by nature. The winds are blowing, and the waves are rough and choppy, pounding against rocks and shore. The driftwood piled on the beach is from massive old-growth trees, and it dwarfs us as we walk through it towards the water. The colorful pebbles below our feet that make up the beach are smooth from years of being pounded by water. The sea stacks (rock outcrops in the sea) stand tall just off the coast. I stood in awe at this stunning example of the beauty and power of nature. I felt small and insignificant in this grand scenery, and that was a good feeling.

View of Rialto Beach as soon as we stepped out onto the beach with driftwood and trees in the foreground and ocean and sea stacks in the distance Sea stack with trees growing on top just off shore from Rialto Beach with late afternoon sun casting light through a cloudy sky

View of James Island from the mouth of the Quillayute River

James Island from the mouth of the Quillayute River

Sea foam on Rialto Beach Christina standing on the beach gazing at the length of the beach with large driftwood and dense fog from the sea Christina standing next to and dwarfed by the huge driftwood at Rialto Beach with James Island off shore in the distance James Island as seen through the hole in some driftwood at Rialto Beach Rialto Beach with driftwood in the foreground and blue skies with puffy white clouds Trees shaped by the wind at the edge of Rialto Beach

We explored the beach and riverbanks and watched bald eagles, surf scoters, ring-necked ducks, and a large flock of common mergansers forage on the mouth of the Quillayute River. The mists began to roll in and shroud the sea stacks just as the sun dropped below the horizon and the pink glow spread across the sea.

Quillayute River mouth panoramic with Michael standing on both ends of the panorama

Christina at the mouth of the Quillayute River with James Island in the distance

Ruby Beach and Big Cedar Tree

Ruby Beach is another spectacular coastal landscape south of Rialto Beach on the Washington State coastline. The red-stained waters of Cedar Creek meet the ocean here where there are several interesting sea stacks, including one with a window. A cormorant was sunning himself on one of the sea stacks. We walked along the very rocky beach, spooking lots of savannah sparrows along the way.

View of Cedar Creek flowing into Ruby Beach and the sea stacks just off shore from the cliff above the beach Ruby Beach with the thin row of conifers lining the edge of the beach in the foreground Mouth of Cedar Creek at Ruby Beach where a rock with a window in it sits on the beach

South of Ruby Beach and just off Highway 101 is Big Cedar Tree. There were many large, old-growth cedars in this area, but the path led to one that really was an entire ecosystem on its own. The oldest part of the tree had died already, and part of it had fallen over. Younger cedars grew out through the middle of the tree. Other species of trees, including hemlocks, and some shrubs were growing out of the sides of the tree after rooting themselves to this cedar many years ago. When Michael stood in the center of the tree where it had been hollowed out, it reminded me of the Keebler Elf tree!

Michael standing at the base of and facing the Big Cedar looking up at its massive size and all the trees growing out of it Another view of Big Cedar with bright green shrubs growing out of the trunk A large cluster of mushrooms growing at the base of a tree near Big Cedar

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