Frozen Coast at Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach in winter.

I set off to visit popular Rialto Beach during a time period when most hikers don’t dare venture out. It was a brisk Winter’s morning on the Olympic Coast with the temperature in the low 20’s overnight.  I was happy that I’d brought some extra layers.  Something about unzipping your sleeping bag and having the brisk morning air rush in wakes you up better than any form of coffee can do.

Like most wild animals, I usually roll out of bed just before first light. This gives me a chance to wander around and explore the area, letting nature direct the camera rather than setting up a tripod and waiting for a particular moment. This has always worked best for me and is a great way to stay warm as well. Getting the body moving is key to an enjoyable Winter camping experience.

The whole beach was covered in frost, as well as the driftwood. Daylight slowly snuck its way through the tree tops as the tide retreated. Once the sun finally reached the black sandy beach evaporation ran its course, giving the appearance of a mysterious lingering fog. All my times sleeping out overnight on the Washington coast I have never experienced anything like this. This mental image will forever be embedded into my memory banks.

The rest of my morning was spent around a beach fire with coffee and dark chocolate. I ended up having extra time to kill waiting for the tide to turn. This makes beach walking an easy task, since the sand is at its most firm state at low tide. Waiting for low tide allows me to walk near the water, well below the average surf line.

Moderator’s Note:

Rialto Beach is accessible by Mora Road, off of La Push Road. Rialto Beach is about 36 miles southwest of Lake Crescent, and about 75 miles from Port Angeles.  Always check the tides when hiking the beaches. It’s possible to get stranded and certain areas of the coast become impassable when high tide rolls in.


  1. Wilderness Dave says:

    Man Jake, all this beach hiking you do kinda makes me miss the coast. I never was a big fan of beaches, but I never really hiked and camped on them like you do. It makes me want to take a week and just hike along the coast. That would be a lot of fun I think…

  2. I miss hiking on the beach. All the beaches I have hiked were in Florida. Can’t imagine seeing frost on a beach. Awesome.

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