Olympic National Park West Coast - Windermere Studios

After sunrise and breakfast the morning of August 31, we attempted to sort out a plan, a general direction, or at least where we wanted to be for sunset that night. Was it to be Seattle, en route to Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia? Was it to be more interior of Oregon, perhaps Mount Hood? Were we willing to take a chance, pick a direction, and hope for a camping spot?

We ended up driving north, to Olympic National Park and specifically to be at Ruby Beach for sunset. We weren't able to secure a spot in the campground that accepted reservations but gambled on getting a spot in one of the others, ideally at the beach. We pulled into South Beach campground about 2 p.m. and had a handful of spots to choose from. South Beach is a pretty basic campground, with flush toilets but no running, potable water or electricity. But it is right on the ocean and the roar of the waves kept us company all night. It's also the least expensive campground we found, with a nightly rate of $10. So we paid for 2. 

We arrived at Ruby Beach in the early evening to find it shrouded in dense, delightful fog and host to many, many other photographers and sunset seekers. 

Amazingly, and much to my surprise, the fog lifted completely by sunset, and then slowly drifted in again in between the seastacks. It was magical.

  • Ruby Beach

The next morning, fog lay low and thick at South Beach  so we stayed in bed late, then headed to the Ranger station at Lake Quinault with hopes of finding Wifi. We visited Merriman and Bunch Falls and  had lunch at the Lodge where we got our wifi fix and picked our photo subject for sunset: Second Beach. 

Another of those 'hour' drives that feels like 3, on narrow, winding roads. When we arrived at First Beach there was thick, dense cloud just above the horizon and very little hope for a colorful sunset. We almost aborted all together but decided to give Second Beach a try. It's about a mile hike up then back down over a cliff through rain forest, to a free for all walk in camp on the beach kind of place. A thin band of light still sat between the water and the cloud, providing a little bit of interest in the photos. The conditions seemed ideal for long exposures and monochrome processing.

Second Beach was worth the hike, and would be spectacular with full on sunset colors. Be aware that it is busy and full of campers. And it is home to the most disgusting toilet on earth - just so you know. 

Back to Oregon

On to Olympic NP North Shore

For more photos from Olympic National Park, click on the gallery image below. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the photos - please leave them as comments if you'd like. 

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