Ruby Beach: One of Washington’s Best Beaches (Full Guide)

Last Updated on July 13, 2022 by admin

If you haven’t visited Ruby Beach yet, add it to your list. This stunning beach has everything we love about the rugged Washington Coast: impressive sea stacks, vibrant tide pools, and tons of driftwood. The beach is named Ruby Beach for the reddish color of the sand. In this post, we’ll share all of the essential information for visiting Ruby Beach.

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Ruby Beach


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What to Bring to Ruby Beach

There’s a few things we recommend to make the most of your trip:

  • Binoculars: You’ll want to be able to see the abundant wildlife on the distant sea stacks. You might see sea lions, bald eagles, whales, and western gulls in the distance. Instead of straining your eyes, you’ll be able to clearly see what wildlife awaits you during your visit.
  • Water Shoes: Ruby Beach is not a particularly sandy beach. During low tide, there might be some sand, but there are a lot of rocks, barnacles, and shells on this beach. Protect your feet so you can thoroughly enjoy a beach walk. (We also recommend water shoes for children if you have kiddos with you. Cuts and saltwater are very painful. Water shoes will be able to protect little feet.)
  • Power Bank: You’ll want to make sure you have enough cell phone battery to take lots of photos. We like this cell phone charger because the cord is embedded. (One less thing to lose!)
  • Water Bottle: Stay hydrated while visiting the beach. We like this insulated water bottle.
  • Day Pack: Store all of your snacks and extra layers in this comfortable day pack.
  • Quick Drying Towel: This towel is small and compact, and it also dries fairly quickly. That makes it ideal for a quick trip to the beach!
  • Rain Jacket: Rain can be unpredictable on the coast. This rain jacket packs up small and can be easily carried in your day pack. 

 

 

(Click on any of the above images for current pricing and shipping information.)


 

How to Get to Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach is located on Washington State’s western coast along the Olympic Peninsula and has breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. To reach this beach, take Highway 101. You’ll see the signage for Ruby Beach around mile markers 164 and 165 (depending on which direction you are coming from). 

From Seattle, the distance to Ruby Beach is about 185 miles. (Without traffic, that’s under a 3.5 hour drive.)

From Forks, the distance to Ruby Beach is about 27 miles. (About a 35 minute drive.)

And from Kalaloch, the distance to Ruby Beach is 8 miles. (About an 11 minute drive.)

There is a parking lot and an overflow lot. You’ll need to purchase an Olympic National Park pass. (We recommend purchasing one in advance and printing it out.)

From the parking lot, there is a short trail (about a quarter of a mile) that leads down to the beach. 

 

Be sure to see our full post on the nearby Hoh Rain Forest – a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Tips for Visiting Ruby Beach

  • Look up the tide charts in advance of your visit. If you go for a long walk, the tides may change and your access back to the beach may be limited. (We’ve linked the tide charts here.)
  • As mentioned before, bring water shoes to protect your feet while you enjoy a beach walk.
  • Bring binoculars to see the wildlife on the sea stacks.
  • Bring hand sanitizer (and potentially extra toilet paper) to use the two vault toilets at the entrance.
  • Follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Do not litter. Do not take anything from the beach (shells, rocks, driftwood). As a national park, this is strictly prohibited. (Take a picture instead!)
  • Do not bring drones. They are prohibited in national parks.
  • Be careful where you step. Try to step on bare rocks and sand whenever possible, instead of the delicate marine life in the area.
 

 


What to See at Ruby Beach

The sea stacks at Ruby Beach make the beach particularly unique. If it’s low tide, you may be able to reach some of the sea stacks. With binoculars, you’ll certainly be able to see the abundant wildlife on them. (Especially birds!) Many of the sea stacks have holes and arches, which make for some wonderful photo opportunities! The sea stacks were formed over thousands of years and represent previous shorelines. After years of waves crashing against the rocks, caves began to form. Those caves gave way to arches. When the arches collapsed, only the sea stacks remained.

Our favorite thing to do here is to go for a beach walk. If you gently turn over small rocks, you’ll likely see crabs and all sorts of marine life. If the tide is low, you might also see plenty of tide pools. Tide pools are typically full of starfish, sea anemones, sea urchins, and small crabs. 

Just off the coast, you’ll also be able to see Abbey Island. The island was formed largely from volcanic rock.

You can also see Destruction Island from Ruby Beach. (The island is about 4 miles to the southwest.) You can still see a lighthouse on the island that was built in 1889 and operational until 1995. On a clear day, the lighthouse is visible fro, Ruby Beach.

You can also see Cedar Creek near where the trail meets the beach. The creek empties into the Pacific Ocean, and is also typically a shallow area where kids will enjoy playing. (Always keep a close eye on kids during water play!)

To the north of Ruby Beach is the outlet of the Hoh River.

Visiting Ruby Beach in Washington
Enjoying the unique rock formations!

 

There are 8 indigenous tribes that have lived along the shores of the Olympic Peninsula. These include the Quinault, Quileute, S’Klallam, Hoh, Jamestown S’Klallam, Elwha Klallam, Makay, Port Gamble, and Skokomish. Be respectful of these lands.

Also see our full posts about Kalaloch Beach and Third Beach, both of which are very close to Ruby Beach!
 

Where to Stay Near Ruby Beach

Kalaloch Lodge

157151 US-101, Forks, WA 98331

The Kalaloch Lodge is located on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The main lodge was built in 1953 and is currently owned by the National Park Service. In addition to the main lodge, there are also cozy cabins and the Seacrest House, which is full of hotel-style rooms.

The cabins at Kalaloch Lodge have either full kitchens or kitchenettes as well as wood-burning fireplaces. The Bluff Cabins have a view of either the ocean or the creek. The Kalaloch Cabins are log cabin-style and have nature views.

There is intentionally no WiFi available at Kalaloch Lodge so that guests can truly disconnect. Dogs are permitted in the cabins, but not the main lodge.

While visiting Kalaloch, make sure you visit the Tree of Life!
 

Kalaloch Campground

Kalaloch Campground, Forks, WA 98331

Camping at Kalaloch Campground Beach
Our campsite at Kalaloch… can’t beat the view!

Kalaloch Campground is open 365 days a year. During the summer (5/26/21-9/15/21) you can make reservations. The rest of the year, it’s first-come, first-served. During the off-season, some of the camping loops might be closed, but some loops will remain open. We highly recommend that you make reservations in advance if you are planning on visiting during the summer months.

The Kalaloch Campground is fairly large, with 168 campsites. (Including 4 accessible sites and 1 group site.) There are no hookups for RVs, but there is a dump station for a fee. There are restrooms with flush toilets, but no showers.

The campground is located on a bluff that overlooks the ocean. Not all of the campsites have ocean views, but many of the campsites on the western edge of the loops do have views. Try to get a beach-view campsite if you can… there is nothing like watching the sunset from your campfire!

We stayed at the Kalaloch Campground during the month of April and there were plenty of sites available during our visit. Our first night, we stayed at a campsite on the inner loop. When a beach view campsite became available, we switched sites. We thought the campground’s location was absolutely stunning!

Don’t miss our full guide to Hurricane Ridge!
 

South Beach Campground

The South Beach Campground is located just a few miles south of the Kalaloch Campground. This campground is open just during the warmer months, so it’s a good place to check out if the Kalaloch Campground is full. The South Beach Campground is not on the reservation system, so it’s a first-come, first-served basis. Because Kalaloch Campground uses reservations during the summer (and is often fully booked), the South Beach Campground is a good place to try for a last-minute getaway. 

Hotels in Nearby Forks, WA

About 34 miles north of Kalaloch is the town of Forks, WA. (The town that was made famous due to the Twilight book series.) Lodging options in Forks include the Pacific Inn MotelTown Motel, and the Woodland Inns

 

For a full list of lodging options in Forks, click here.

You might also be interested in our post about the 15 best beaches in Seattle.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ruby Beach

What is Ruby Beach known for?

Ruby Beach is known for its numerous sea stacks (large rock outcroppings off the coast), its tide pools, and its reddish sand. 

Why is the beach called Ruby Beach?

The sand at Ruby Beach sometimes has a reddish tint. This is because of the minerals that are found in the sand there. The mineral almandite is a red crystal that resembles a garnet and can be found at this beach. Whether or not almandite washes to the shores of the beach will depend on the wave actions during your visit. Remember that you are not allowed to take rocks from the beach. (Keep them there for future generations!) When we visited Ruby Beach, I don’t remember noticing any red sand. That might be because of the wave actions on the day that we visited, or because I wasn’t particularly looking for them! 

Are there rubies at Ruby Beach?

No. The reddish crystals you might see there are actually almandite, which resembles a garnet.

Do you have to pay to visit Ruby Beach?

When visiting Olympic National Park, you’ll need to purchase an Olympic National Park pass.

Is Ruby Beach worth visiting?

Yes! The sea stacks, tide pools, and rugged coastline make Ruby Beach one of Washington’s most beautiful spots. This is one of our favorite beaches in Washington State.

Is Ruby Beach sandy?

Not particularly. The beach is mostly rocky. During low tide, there may be more sandy areas. Expect to see lots of rocks, barnacles, and seashells. We recommend wearing water shoes to explore the beach in order to protect your feet. Alternatively, you could wear waterproof boots.

Where are the tide pools at Ruby Beach?

The best time to see the tide pools is at low tide. Be sure to check the tide charts to see what time of the day you can expect to see low tide during your visit. We recommend arriving an hour before low tide. Once at the beach, look for rocks with small pools. Peek inside and see what you can find! You might see starfish, hermit crabs, barnacles, sea snails, sea urchins, and anemones. You can protect the tide pools but gently observing. If you move seaweed aside, try to return it as you left it. Remember not to take anything home with you, as disturbing the tide pools has harmful effects on the environment.

How far away is Ruby Beach from Seattle?

Ruby Beach is about 185 miles away from Seattle. Without traffic, it’s about a 3.5 hour drive. The drive can take considerably longer if you travel during rush hour.

Are dogs allowed on Ruby Beach?

Yes, leashed dogs are allowed on Ruby Beach.


Nearby Attractions

We like visiting the Olympic Peninsula because there are so many beautiful places to see all clustered in the same region! When visiting Ruby Beach, we also recommend that you consider visiting the following places:

  • Hoh Rain Forest: Head into the rainforest and check out the Hall of Mosses loop trail. You’ll be in the heart of the rainforest, and everything you see will be draped in green mosses and lichens.
  • Hurricane Ridge: On a clear day, you’ll see the tops of the mountains and even as far out to Canada. You’ll have excellent views up close of the Olympic Mountains.
  • Third Beach: The trail to Third Beach is 3.6 miles roundtrip. You’ll see plenty of sea stacks from this beach hike.
  • Kalaloch Beach: This beach is large and sandy. The beach is near the Kalaloch Lodge and Kalaloch Campground and is easily accessible. We recommend watching the sunset here!
  • Tree of Life: Located at Kalaloch Beach, the Tree of Life is a tree with its roots nearly full exposed due to erosion. If you’re at Kalaloch, you don’t want to leave without seeing it!
  • Big Cedar Tree: A very short .1 mile trail will take you a massive Cedar tree believed to be over 1,000 years old. After storms in 2014, it was split nearly in two.
  • Lake Crescent: This beautiful lake is located in the Olympic Mountains.
  • Sol Duc Falls: To reach the falls, you’ll complete a beautiful 1.6 mile roundtrip hike. 
  • World’s Largest Spruce Tree: The tree has a circumference of 58 feet, 11 inches.
  • Forks, Washington: This is the town where the Twilight book series takes place. Fans of the books will enjoy seeing many of the places mentioned in the books.
  • Port Townsend, Washington: This historic seaport is known for its coastal views and Victorian-style buildings.

Where to Eat Near Ruby Beach

  • Hard Rain Cafe |  20 miles from Ruby Beach. The Hard Rain Cafe serves coffee, breakfast, and burgers. It’s one of the closest food options near the Hoh Rain Forest.
  • Creekside Restaurant | 8 miles from Ruby Beach. This rustic restaurant serves classic American food with a view. At the time of this writing, they are open for to-go orders only.
  • BBG Blakeslee Bar & Grill | 26 miles from Ruby Beach. This is a full-service bar located in Forks, Washington, for guests that are 21 years old and over.

Summary

Ruby Beach is truly a magical place to visit. It’s one of those places that will move your soul when you see it for the first time. This is one place that we would return to multiple times. 

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