Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park

The Ultimate Guide To Ruby Beach on The Olympic Peninsula

Post Summary: Things To Do at Ruby Beach in Washington state.

UPDATE September 14th, 2022: Ruby Beach is OPEN! After a seasonal closure for parking lot maintenance, the Ruby Beach area has reopened with better amenities. These projects included improvements to accessibility, better parking, new overlooks, and facilities.

This past Saturday, Berty and I decided to take a one-day road trip and drive the Olympic Peninsula Loop.

To those who aren’t familiar with Washington State, the Olympic Loop is a scenic highway that circles the entire perimeter of the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest.

This is a unique drive because, in the span of 300+ miles, you can see breathtaking ocean shores, pristine lakes, captivating mountain ranges, and even a temperate rainforest! Talk about getting your mile’s worth.

In this post, we’re sharing one of our favorite beaches in Washington – Ruby Beach!

We hope this inspires you to take your own adventure to the Washington Coast!

The Complete Guide To Ruby Beach on The Olympic Peninsula

Where is Ruby Beach?

Ruby Beach is located on the Washington Coast. It is also part of the Olympic National Park, which means people take great care to conserve the land and the wildlife that live here.

Ruby Beach is one of the northernmost beaches of the Kalaloch Beach access points, which is located in the southern coastal section of the park.

The beach got its unique name from the reddish granules that often gather together on the shore. Some could even mistake them for rubies on the beach!

Other destinations nearby Ruby Beach:

How To Get To Ruby Beach From Seattle:

Ruby Beach is just over a 3-hour drive from the city of Seattle. During the drive, you’ll find yourself going through cities like Tacoma and Olympia.

If you live north of Seattle, we recommend taking the Washington ferries across the Puget Sound and arriving at Ruby Beach from the north part of Highway 101.

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Directions To Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach is quite easy and straightforward to find.

From Forks, Washington, follow US Highway 101 south for 27 miles. Turn right at mile marker 164 and look for signs to turn right to Ruby Beach.

Here, there is a parking lot big enough for about 20-25 cars. The road is gravel, and can be filled with dips or puddles throughout – drive slowly!

There are vault toilets in the parking lot area, which we suggest using before heading down to the beach.

Here are some Ruby Beach driving distances for other nearby cities:

  • Forks to Ruby Beach: 27.1 miles (30-minute drive)
  • Port Angeles to Ruby Beach: 83.5 miles (1.5-hour drive)
  • Aberdeen to Ruby Beach: 80.7 miles (1.5-hour drive)
  • Seattle to Ruby Beach: 185 miles (3.5-hour drive)

Are There Fees To Enter Ruby Beach?

The beach is part of the Olympic National Park, but it can be accessed without passing by an entrance kiosk. There are no signs that ask you to pay, and no machines that say “pay here.”

Therefore, there is a good chance you could park and get away without showing a pass. We haven’t seen a ranger on any of our visits to the beach, but they still definitely do stop by. If you want to err on the side of caution, just display your American the Beautiful pass on your dash to cover all your bases.

Things To Do At Ruby Beach

So, what are the best things to do at Ruby Beach? From hiking to beachcombing, tide pool exploring to surfing (yes, surfing!), there are so many Ruby Beach activities!

Here are some of our favorite things to do on a trip to Ruby Beach in Washington:

Hiking on Ruby Beach

Generally, Ruby Beach is a great place for roaming and wandering around. However, if you are looking for long-distance hikes, you can do that too!

You can hike 2 miles North to the Hoh River, or 15 miles south to the Quinault River. Both rivers play an important role in the peninsula ecosystem. They are also fed by heavy rainforest downpours, which happen year-round!

To the north, you can pass several large sea stacks and cross Cedar Creek. Note: Cedar Creek is ever-changing and moving. Bring water shoes and PREPARE to get wet when crossing. Don’t cross if you feel unsafe, or the stream looks like it’s moving too fast.

To the south, you can reach Steamboat Creek after 3 miles of hiking (during low tide). Here, you’ll get views of Destruction Island and its lighthouse to the west.

Explore Tide Pools at Ruby Beach

One of the most popular activities to do at Ruby Beach is to explore the tide pools! However, most of them are underwater until low tide.

If you want to make sure you can see Ruby Beach tide pools on your trip, bring a tide chart. Your hotel or campground host may have a printed list, but you can easily find the information online too.

Save this website to refer to Ruby Beach tide charts and times.

In the pools, look out for sea urchins, starfish, hard-shelled limpets, anemones, and crabs! They all live among the seaweed and exposed low tides.

As always, remember proper tide pool etiquette:

  • Step on clear, bare rock and watch out for barnacles. (They are alive!)
  • Don’t poke or prod sea creatures, and don’t move them from their spots.
  • Wear sturdy shoes, and walk slowly. Tidepool areas are very slippery.

Swimming at Ruby Beach

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Sure, you can swim at Ruby Beach, but we don’t recommend it. The water in Washington state stays cold year long! Water temperatures range anywhere from 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of year.

If you are determined to swim, it’s important that you are a strong swimmer. We also recommend wearing a wetsuit if you are planning to surf.

Riptides are common here because the sea stacks and nearby islands affect the waves and currents in the area. If you DO get stuck in a riptide, remember not to panic, but instead swim sideways until the current breaks.

Don’t want to get in fully but still dip your toes in the water? That’s fine! During extra low tides, there is an exposed sandbar that shows up just offshore. You can easily walk to it and explore ankle to knee-deep waters.

Keep a very careful eye on little ones when exploring the sandbar – sneaker waves can knock people off their feet!

Photography Opportunities at Ruby Beach in Washington

Best Photography Opportunities At Ruby Beach

Being Pacific Northwest travel photographers, Berty and I are always looking for opportunities to capture our beautiful Washington state.

In our humble opinion, here are the best Olympic National Park photography locations are here at Ruby Beach.

Washington Coast Beaches - Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach Entrance - Olympic National Park

The Entrance To Ruby Beach

Right before you make your descent to the shore from the parking lot, take some time and enjoy the view from above.

From the hairpin bend in the trail, you get a sweeping view of the shore below, filled with sea stacks, sun-bleached driftwood logs. ch!

Washington Coast Beaches (Ruby Beach)
Ruby Beach Washington

The Sea Stacks at Ruby Beach

Formed over hundreds of years of erosion and weathering, the sea stacks at Ruby Beach are truly spectacular! If you’re interested in long-exposure photography (that smooth water look), this is definitely the place to try it out.

Abbey Island is the largest sea stack (also called rock island) on the beach. Another notable and famous sea stack is the 20-foot towering spire, one of the closest to the shoreline.

All sea stacks are home to sea otters, migratory birds, starfish, mussels, and more! Watch your step around them, and keep your distance if you see any animals.

driftwood logs at Ruby Beach

The Huge Driftwood Logs On Shore

Crashing waves rhythmically hit the shore, and driftwood swells back and forth in its wake.

On our trips to this beach, we have noticed that the patterns of the driftwood logs change every time. They are beautiful, but also very slippery, so watch your step and you climb and jump around them.

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Important Information About Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach Is Part Of The Olympic National Park (Protected)

Roby Beach is a protected area through the National park. The offshore islands are also protected by the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Throughout the year, you can find a variety of nesting birds offshore on the sea stacks. Some include murres and tufted puffins!

Drones Are Not Permitted

The Washington coast is home to lots of wildlife, including band eagles. It’s against the law to fly drones on this beach, and it’s for the protection of these precious animals

. Ruby Beach is also located within the Olympic National Park, and it’s against the law to fly drones in any US National Park.

Want to know the drone-safe beaches in Washington? Click here to read more about proper drone usage on the Washington Coast, and check with local communities if the laws are different in the area.

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What To Pack For Your Trip To Ruby Beach

Just like any other adventure to Washington beaches, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some tips and considerations to remember when packing for your trip:

Waterproof Boots or Shoes. Depending on the time of year, it’s important to keep your feet safe in this wet climate. In winter, we suggest packing a pair of tall rain boots to walk and explore the shore. In the summertime, we suggest wearing water-safe sandals like Tevas or Chacos.

Pack Extra Trash Bags: Ruby Beach is one of the most popular Washington beaches. Because of its high visitation, it’s important to all of us to do our part and keep it clean and safe! Pack a few trash bags and pick up garbage along the way as you see it.

Windbreaker of Rain Jacket: Pacific Northwest beaches are colder than others you may be familiar with! Pack an extra layer like a windbreaker or rain jacket to protect you from the elements.

Tide Chart: If you are hoping to explore some tide pools or walk to the sandbar, you’ll be to know the tide charts for the day.

Camera: This is one of the best Washington photography locations in the state! Bring your camera (a smartphone will do!) to capture the moments. Want to see our setup? Here’s our Travel Photography Gear List.

Your Friends and Family! The Washington coast is best when shared! There are so many reasons to travel with your friends, but making memories together is the most important one.

Want the full list? 46 Essentials For Your Olympic National Park Packing List

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Places To Camp Near Ruby Beach

The only campgrounds nearby Ruby Beach are Kalaloch Campground and South beach campground. Both can be reserved via Recreation.gov.

There is no beach camping available on the beach. If you wanted to camp on the beach in Washington, try checking out Third or Second Beach and grab a permit.

You can also venture farther up north and backpack to Shi Shi Beach, or hike the Ozettete Loop to Cape Alava.

Places To Stay Near Ruby Beach

There are a lot of charming accommodations near Ruby Beach. The closest place is the Kalaloch Lodge, a romantic stay steps away from the beach. You can also go up to Forks, and stay at places like the Woodlands in or Pacific Hotel.

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Other Washington State Beaches Worth Visiting

Looking for some other Washington beaches to visit during your Olympic Peninsula road trip? Here are some we think you should be adding to your itinerary!

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is similar to Ruby, except that it has 10x the driftwood and it’s practically all bleached white. On its shore, it also has an incredibly beautiful 1.5-mile hike called Hole In The Wall trail.

La Push Beaches

An iconic stop for anyone wanting to soak in the best of the Northwest.

At First Beach, there is easy access to the waterfront and is a perfect stop on your Twilight tour in Forks. Second Beach requires a short hike but has beach camping opportunities. Finally, Third Beach requires a longer hike, but with it for fewer crowds and peaceful walks.

Similar to Ruby and Rialto beach, rock formations stand out proudly in the water on all beaches.

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the continental U.S.! It’s not part of the Olympic National Park, but actually, land belonging to the Makah Tribe of Washington. The Cape Flattery trail is a short hike on boardwalk trails. The views are totally worth it!

Kalaloch Beach (Tree of Life)

Have you ever seen a picture of a tree suspending its roots across a beach crevasse? That’s the Kalaloch Tree of Life!

It’s conveniently located in the Kalaloch Campground Day Use Area. It’s also easily accessible from a set of stairs that lead straight to the beach. This tree has been sinking rapidly in the past few years, so see it while it’s still up!

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FAQs About Ruby Beach in Washington

Is Ruby Beach Worth Visiting?

Absolutely! However, for people who are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest for the first time, there’s something you should know. Beaches in Washington aren’t known for their particularly smooth sandy shores. They are rocky, filled with driftwood, and filled with sea stacks, headlands, and lots of marine life! Prepare for a diverse experience – Ruby Beach isn’t the classic California beach vibe.

What is Ruby Beach Famous For?

Ruby Beach is one of the most popular and well-known beaches on the Washington Coast. Most notably, it’s famous for its reddish sand, several sea stacks, and marine life.

You can also come here to find unique and interesting driftwood, rocks (like agates!), and seashells.

Which is Better- Rialto Beach or Ruby Beach?

That answer depends on what kind of experience you are looking for! Rialto Beach is a great choice if you are prepared for a hike. Hole-In-The-Wall at Rialto Beach is definitely worth visiting but it’s a 1.5-mile trek north up the beach.

Ruby Beach is more quickly accessible and has a diverse set of things to do. This makes it a great choice for groups or families. There is simply a lot to do and see here!

Can You Take Rocks From Ruby Beach?

Generally, it’s proper beach etiquette to follow Leave No Trace principles, which means leaving what you find. However, we’ve discovered conflicting information on this subject. Some say it’s a great beachcombing spot for collecting agates and other rocks.

This beach is part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which is why some people say you shouldn’t take anything.

Our answer? Call the Hoh Rainforest ranger station. They will have a clear answer for you, and may let you know what you can or cannot take from the beach. Until then, leave everything you find.

What’s always illegal is removing wildlife from the beach, which includes shells that are housing a crab or other creature. Leave them be!

Can You Swim At Ruby Beach?

Technically yes, but we don’t recommend it! The water temperature averages 57-63 degrees in the summer. In the winter, the coldest water temperatures in February are 43-50 degrees. It is possible to surf here, but you must wear a wetsuit and have the knowledge to avoid rip tides.

There are so many other things to do at Ruby Beach – we suggest skipping swimming!

Why Do They Call It “Ruby Beach”?

Ruby Beach gets its name from the red minerals found in the sand. Known as “almandite” it’s a type of garnet with 12 sides that can shimmer and sparkle in the sand.

What Town is Ruby beach in?

Ruby Beach isn’t in any specific town, but it’s nearby a lot of Washington towns on the Olympic Peninsula. The closest communities include Forks, Port Angeles, and Aberdeen.

Do You Have To Hike To Ruby Beach?

No, there is no hike required to reach the shore. From the parking lot to the beach, there is a short quarter-mile pathway.

Where Are The Tide Pools at Ruby Beach?

Many of the Ruby Beach tide pools can be found at the base of the sea stacks just offshore. For other places nearby with tidepools, we recommend checking out Kalaloch Beach 4, just south of Ruby Beach. (Driving there instead of hiking is fastest)

Is Ruby Beach Dog Friendly?

Yes! Dogs are allowed on Ruby Beach. This is unlike a lot of other beaches in Washington, and quite unique for being in a national park too.

While Ruby Beach is a dog-friendly beach, it’s still very important to keep an eye on your pooch at all times. There are very high chances of spotting marine life like seals or otters. Therefore, always have your leash on hand to restrain them if there are other animals present.

How Far In The Hoh Rainforest From Ruby Beach?

The Hoh Rainforest (Visitors Center Area) is 32 miles (45-minute drive) from the beach. You can easily see both areas of the Olympic National Park in one day. In fact, we often recommend seeing them together!

How Long Is Ruby Beach?

Ruby Beach is officially 1-mile long. However, the shoreline connects and extends both to the north and south. This means you can hike farther if you want to.

Can You Have a Fire on Ruby Beach?

No, you are not allowed to make a fire on Ruby Beach. If you are interested in a beach bonfire, we suggest checking our La Push’s Third or Second Beach. Beach fires are permitted there.

Can You Walk On Ruby Beach During High Tide?

Yes, it’s possible to walk on the beach during high tide, but we don’t recommend it. High tide swallows up a lot of the cool things to see at Ruby Beach. If you want to maximize your experience, we definitely recommend coming during low tide for the most beach access.

How Much Time Should I Spend At Ruby Beach?

Ruby Beach can easily be enjoyed in a single afternoon. If you plan to simply roam around the beach and explore the immediate area, 1-2 hours should be just fine. Plan on a few more hours if you want o venture on farther hiking trails to the north or south.

What are your favorite things to do at Ruby Beach in Washington? Any special memories? Share them will us in the comments?

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