Berty and I are currently on our Pacific Coast Road Trip. We are driving down the coast until San Francisco, driving east to Yosemite, and making our way north again through Crater Lake, the Painted Hills and more. You can find our full itinerary here! On our first night, we slept at La Push Beach on the Washington Coast. It was our first time camping on the beach, and it was a great learning experience. Now that summer is in (practically) full swing, we wanted to share how you can have a great time beach camping too! We’ve also got a few tips if you are planning on staying in the PNW…read on!
11 Tips For Successful Beach Camping
1. Set Your Tent Above High Tide
This is for your safety, so your tent (and you!!) won’t get taken by the ocean. The higher the setup the better, just to be extra certain a rogue wave doesn’t get you in the middle of the night. It’s best if you can find some large driftwood to put up in front of your tent as an extra barrier.
2. But, Set Up A Fire BELOW High Tide
The Ranger at Port Angeles gave us this trick. This way it can naturally be washed away. Best way to enjoy a fire and keep the beach beautiful! Make sure to collect driftwood that is no bigger than your forearm and NEVER burn huge logs.
3. Set Up Before Sundown
It’s no fun to try and fumble around in the dark with a tent. Try and make setting up the first thing on your beach camping to-do list.
4. Pack Lots Of Garbage Bags
Literally everything we brought got sand in it. If you want to keep your tent as sand-free as possible, shake off your shoes and stick them in a garbage bag before bringing them inside. Garbage bags are also useful to stuff a wet tent in when you leave, so you can pull it back out later to dry in the sun. Which brings me to….
5. Set Your Tent Out To Dry
Honestly this one might take a while. We are currently on Day 3 of our road trip and it has been raining every. single. day. Yesterday we set the tent out on a picnic table to *finally* dry in the sun. Unfortunately, a torrential downpour came and totally soaked it once again. Now it’s in a garbage bag in our car. We are waiting until the next sunny hour to dry it out again.
6. Bring Rain Boots
My rain boots have been the real MVP of this trip. If you are like me and HATE sand in your shoes, boots are a sure-fire way to stay dry and sand-free without any hassle or extra effort. They are also easy to pull on and off, which is helpful for trips in and out of the tent.
7. Bring A Bear Can For Food + Smelly Things
Bear Cans are required in Olympic National Park, and most National Parks. Double check with your park by going to their website. While you may not see any bears on the coast, we DID come across a few scary raccoons. From experience, they can be pretty aggressive with food. Stay safe and put anything with a strong smell in a bear can. Don’t forget to store it at least 50 feet away from where you are sleeping!
8. Get A High/Low Tide Chart
This helped us understand how far up the water will come and when. Getting a tide chart is great for ocean nerds like me, and you will know when the ocean is at it’s absolute highest. This way you know you’re setting your tent up in the right place.
9. Prepare For A Super Wet/Windy Night
When you prepare for the worst, you are pleasantly surprised when things turn out not so bad! This was the case for Berty and I when we slept at La Push. With only a little bit of rain, we had a mostly calm and comfortable night. To be safe, bring a sturdy rain jacket, extra socks, and warm layers!
10. Get The Right Permit
Where do you want to camp? National Parks? State Parks? Do a little research about your beach beforehand to save yourself getting woken up by a ranger at the crack of dawn. For us, we had to drive to the Port Angeles Ranger Station to get a beach camping permit for La Push. ($16). They gave us a tag to stick on the outside of our tent to signify we were allowed to camp there!
11. NEVER Leave Valuables In Your Car Overnight
Getting stuff stolen sucks. Prepare to take your valuables with you to the beach, OR leave them at home. Berty and I had to leave our van at the La Push Second Beach trailhead, out of sight from the beach. We took extra care to bring our valuables, or hide them completely out of site to thieves in the night. 🙂 If you must leave stuff in your car overnight, stash it in the trunk, or cover it so that objects are not visible from any windows.
(PNW Bonus Tips)
Beach camping and parking lot camping is not allowed at Cape Kiwanda, Oregon. There is no access to either between 12:01am – 4:00am every day. However, there are lots of actual camping areas nearby. Payment required. If camping isn’t your first choice, there are also a lot of cool lodges and resorts nearby in Pacific City. Options for everyone!
La Push Beach Camping requires a camping permit. The closest place to get one is either Port Angeles Ranger Station (near Hurricane ridge) or Lake Quinault SOUTH Ranger Station. One night is $16 for two people. Bear cans are required and they give you one with your permit. You just need to return it! A return doesn’t have to be at the same ranger station, however. In our case, we picked on up in Port Angeles and returned it at Lake Quinault as we continued south on our trip.
Have you ever gone beach camping? What suggestions would you have for a first-timer? Write in the comments below!
Happy travels! Love,
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