High Peaks, Lush Forest, and Wild Coast… Part 2

Olympic National Park

The 3 unique environments of Olympic NP—mountains, forest, and coast—can all be accessed off Highway 101.

Today we explore a tiny part of the more than 73 miles of wild coastal beaches that run north to south from Shi Shi Beach to South Beach.


Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is a public beach in Clallum County in the Olympic Peninsula. It is located near the mouth of the Quillayute River adjacent to Mora Campground in the Olympic National Park.

This beach and coastal forest is noted for its pounding waves, rocky shore, giant drift logs, and sea stacks.

It’s minus tide today and we walk along the beach for 1.5 miles one way toward our destination… a sea-carved arch called Hole in the Wall.

Walk with me and enjoy…

We study the tidal pools and discover sea anemones…

Sea stars…

Limpets in their shell, clinging to the rocks…

More sea anemones…

Seaweed and kelp…

Barnacles…

Small mussels…

We arrive at the Hole in the Wall.

After taking pictures and treading the rocks, we start back and retrace our steps for another 1.5 miles.

I love the picture below. This hiker says it all with his pose!

Forest and drift…


The Quileute Reservation

Today these Native Americans live within 1 square mile in La Push. But thousands of winters ago the Quileute and the ghosts of their ancestors flourished in the territory which originally stretched from the Pacific beaches along the rain forest rivers to the glaciers of Mt. Olympus. Their ancient mythic stories recount the days when animals were still people and they challenged kwalla, the mighty whale. Creation legends involve bayak, the trickster raven, who placed the sun in the sky. They believe their peoples were changed from wolves by a wandering Transformer. (quileutenation.org)

Hmmm… I wonder if Stephenie Meyer knew about this when she chose Forks as the setting for the Twilight series…

The Quileute language is still spoken by the elders and children are taught the basics of this complex language at the Tribal School.

I stopped into this general store below and heard the spoken language myself. It is a mix of clicking sounds and epiglottal oral consonant stops. It is 1 of only 5 languages in the world with no nasal sounds, such as m or n.

The Quileute Language is known for its tongue twisting strings of consonants with words that run off the page. For example, kitlayakwokwilkwolasstaxasalas means “Those are the people who think that I am the one who is going to Forks.” (quileutenation.org)


The Quillayute River blocks access from Rialto Beach to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Beaches.

Beach One is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation and was a setting in the movie version of the Twilight series.


Beach Two is part of the Olympic National Park, along with Beach Three.

We stop, pull over, park, and head down the .7 one way trail to the beach.

It’s quite beautiful with the nurse logs sculpting the roots and the various shades and textures of green moss, lichens, and air plants.

The trail dead ends into an obstacle course of drift logs. We scramble through a short ways.

And take a few pics of the beach. Notice the pirate flag near the tent and another sea-carved arch.

We’re ready to return and call it a day.

Did I mention that it’s pretty much uphill all the way back? It’s a good thing that I can stop now and then to take an interesting picture. (What? I never said anything about catching my breath!)

I watch as a woman, holding this slug with chopsticks, gently places it into the shrubs. She tells me she found it on the road…

A few of our treasures from Rialto Beach…

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