Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach

Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach

“That far-resounding roar is the Ocean’s voice of welcome.  His salt breath brings a blessing along with it.”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne, from “Footprints on the Sea-shore”

Olympic National Park has several beach access points to the Pacific coast.  On this road trip, we stopped at three beaches and walked barefoot in the sand.

Rialto Beach was the wildest shore with stretches of pebbly sand and sea stacks jutting up from the water.

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Ruby Beach was glorious in the morning light.  We descended a short trail down from the parking area to the beach.  Old tree trunks littered the shore above the tide line.  This beach, too, had sea stacks.  But it also had tide pools to explore and fine sand to walk on.

Arriving at Ruby Beach in the early morning

Arriving at Ruby Beach in the early morning

Sea stacks

Sea stacks

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Kalaloch Beach seemed tamer, with a wide expanse of soft sand down to the water’s edge.

Kalaloch Beach

Kalaloch Beach

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“The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean —
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.”
— Robert Frost, “Devotion”

 

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Sol Duc River at its mouth on the Pacific Ocean

Sol Duc River at its mouth on the Pacific Ocean

Olympic National Park is really huge and encompasses such diverse landscapes — snow-capped mountains, freshwater lakes (like Lake Crescent), ocean beaches, and temperate rain forests.  It really is a marvel.  Rialto Beach was less than an hour’s drive from Nature Bridge campus, so three of us interrupted our retreat to make a day trip there.

Rock cairns on the Rialto Beach

Rock cairns on the Rialto Beach

Walking barefoot on the beach

Walking barefoot on the beach

Rialto Beach is wild, windy, and glorious.  The surf pounds.  The air is rich with ozone.  Sea stacks off shore appear and disappear in the mist.  Huge logs litter the upper beach.  Tall evergreens border the ocean’s edge.  The beach is sandy and pebbly, and all the pebbles from small to large are flat and smooth.  The parking lots were full, but the immensity of the coast absorbed all those people so you felt the space as expansive.

We walked along the beach to the Hole in the Wall, ate a picnic lunch, and then painted for an hour or so.  Here are some photos of our day at Rialto Beach:

Sea stack like a ghostly phantom on the horizon

Sea stack like a ghostly phantom on the horizon

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One of the world's giant sandboxes

One of the world’s giant sandboxes

Two friends

Two friends

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Ink and watercolor sketch of sea stacks

Ink and watercolor sketch of sea stacks

Watercolor painting of sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Watercolor painting of sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Another view of sea stacks from First Beach, La Push

Another view of sea stacks from First Beach, La Push

 

“Listen!  you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.”
— Matthew Arnold, from “Dover Beach”

Sea stack at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

Sea stacks at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

“The seashore is a most advantageous point from which to comprehend the world.  The waves forever rolling to the land are so far traveled coming home and leaving again.”
— Henry David Thoreau

The next morning, we stopped at two more beaches before completing our road trip to Olympic National Park:  Ruby Beach and Kalaloch Beach.  Ruby Beach was less wild than Rialto Beach, and Kalaloch Beach seemed tamer still.  I loved seeing how different the beach landscapes were from one another.

Ruby Beach in the morning

Ruby Beach in the morning

You could walk for miles.

You could walk for miles.

Sea stacks and tidepools

Sea stacks and tidepools, Ruby Beach

Caves in the cliffs, giant logs

Caves in the cliffs, giant logs

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

“To me the sea is a continual miracle:  The fishes that swim — the rocks — the motion of the waves — the ships, with men in them.  What stranger miracles are there?”
— Walt Whitman

The tidepools around the barnacle-covered rocks teemed with anemones and star fish.  The waves carved artistic patterns in the pebble-strewn sand.  So much to see and explore!

Anemones

Anemones

Brilliantly colored star fish

Brilliantly colored star fish

Beach art in the sand

Beach art in the sand

Lovely pattern in the sand

Lovely pattern in the sand

Ruby beach

Ruby Beach

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Piles of driftwood, Kalaloch Beach

Piles of driftwood, Kalaloch Beach

Walking along Kalalocj Beach

Walking along Kalaloch Beach

 

 

 

 

 

“The beach is a good spot for spending that transitional hour between day and night as the waves roll up and slide back, tugging out some of a busy day’s wrinkles.”
— Sonny Brewer, A Sound Like Thunder

Sunset at Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

Sunset at Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

“O wise magician to whom shall fall the task of chronicling this extraordinary sunset, this turning of the world to show the sun’s face as never before.”
— Cervantes, Don Quixote

“To find the feeling of infinity on the horizon line . . .”
— Georgia O’Keeffe

Nature’s own show — the setting sun — rivaled any National Geographic special on television.  It was a fitting end to our first day of sightseeing in Olympic National Park.

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“There was no end to the joyful exaltation on this edge of oscillations.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

The Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

The Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

The last half of our Olympic National Park road trip took us to several Pacific coast beaches.  We stopped at Mora Campground on the way to Rialto Beach to pitch our tent, as we planned to have a picnic supper at the beach and stay until sunset.  We didn’t want to have to set up our tent in the dark.

Our campsite at Mora Campground

Our campsite at Mora Campground

The beach was two miles from the campground.  We passed the Quillayute River as we neared the end of the road.  Straight ahead was the endless ocean, the mighty Pacific.

Quillayute River

Quillayute River

Sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Fourteen shades of gray

Fourteen shades of gray

“The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.”
— Henry Beston

This was my first time at Rialto Beach.  It’s a wild coast, with waves crashing and casting up sea foam onto the pebbly beach.  Sea stacks added interest to the horizon line.  Weathered driftwood lined the upper beach.  The water was cold, but irresistible to children (and adults).

Rialto beach

Rialto beach

The wild shores at Rialto Beach

The wild shores at Rialto Beach

Our beach chairs

Our beach chairs

Driftwood

Driftwood

The sky

The sky

Waiting for sunset

Waiting for sunset

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”
— Victor Hugo