Sea Stacks on Olympic National Park’s Coast

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park

Iconic rock posts and arches jutting up from the sand along the Washington coast are what define the Olympic National Park’s beaches. A dozen beaches provide endless exploration for hikers and distinctive foregrounds for sunset gawkers and photographers. The sea stacks, stumps, and islands also provide a necessary refuge for birds and aquatic wildlife.

Where to See Sea Stacks

The bucket-list destination is at the northern end of the park – Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach. Checking off this view requires an 8-mile out and back hike, half of it through a dense forest.

Exploring sea stacks takes less effort at the southern beaches, many of which include parking lots and restroom facilities. Our favorites include Rialto Beach (easily accessible for sunsets from Forks, Washington), Ruby Beach (north of Kalaloch Lodge), and South Beach.

How Sea Stacks are Formed

Water is a powerful thing. Waves crashing against headlands erode the rock. First caves are formed. Then when the caves break through to the other side, the formation becomes an arch. Finally, when the center of the arch collapses, it forms a sea stack.

Olympic Sea Stack Gallery

Click on images to enlarge

Sunset at Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach on the Olympic Coast.

Sunset at Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach on the Olympic Coast.

Ruby Beach in Autumn

Ruby Beach in Autumn

Misty sea stacks on Olympic Coast. Photo by Justin Bailie

Misty sea stacks on Olympic Coast. Photo by Justin Bailie

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. Photo by Michael Gabler via Wikimedia Commons

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. Photo by Michael Gabler via Wikimedia Commons

Olympic Coast Sea Stacks. Photo by NPS

Olympic Coast Sea Stacks. Photo by NPS

Sunset on Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park

Sunset on Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park