Looping around the northern Olympic Peninsula, US-101 finally reaches the coast 27 miles south of Forks at Ruby Beach, where wave-sculpted sea stacks frame a photogenic driftwood-strewn cove. From Ruby Beach, US-101 runs south through the wild coastal section of Olympic National Park, which is almost always foggy and cool, even when the weather is sunny and hot just a mile inland. While almost the entire coast south from Cape Flattery is protected within the national park, this is the only easily accessible stretch. Parking areas along the highway, numbered from Beach 6 to Beach 1 north to south, give access to 20 miles of generally deserted beach, backed by rocky bluffs and packed with tide pools, driftwood castles, and an incredible variety of flotsam and jetsam.
At the southern end of this short but sweet stretch of coastline, between Beach 2 and Beach 3, about 25 miles north of Lake Quinault, Kalaloch Lodge (866/662-9969, $119 and up) is a modern resort with a coffee shop and a nice restaurant overlooking a picturesque cove. There’s also a gas station, a summer-only ranger station across US-101, and an ocean-side campground just to the north.