Shi Shi Beach Olympic National Park

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing along the Washington Coast during the first spell of sunny spring weather. I was looking forward to this trip since this winter had been very dismal and it had been over 10 years since my last visit to Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park, one of the most rugged scenic and remote stretches of coastline in the lower 48 states. Spring is perhaps the best time of the year to visit, the beaches are empty, the variable weather makes for a variety of lighting conditions, and unlike summer there is little chance of fog.
Shi Shi is less visited than other Olympic beaches further south due to some access difficulties. First of all you must obtain a wilderness permit in the Park Visitor’s Center in Port Angeles along with a bear and raccoon proof food container. The drive from Port Angeles is long, then you must obtain a Makah Tribal Recreation Permit since the Makah Reservation borders the park here. Parking also is unusual in that if you stay overnight on the beach you must park in a secure site on private property for the cost of $10 per day.
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Clearing all these hurdles puts you on the trail, the first 2 miles or so are very muddy followed by a steep decent to the beach and a couple more miles hike on sand to some of the best sea stacks and tide pools you’ll ever see. Since you’ll need to spend a couple nights to make photographing worthwhile try and find a campsite close to the headland cliffs and fresh water, there are plenty to choose from. The best classic images are to be had in the evening at low tide near this first headland, but make sure you also venture further south for more small bays and coves with fantastic tide pools filled with starfish and anemones. The overland trail also offers an incredible view to the south with a large natural arch just below.
The images here are the first few edits from this trip, in a following post I’ll show a few more along with some photo tips and suggestions on how to make the most from this special area.
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2 thoughts on “Shi Shi Beach Olympic National Park

  1. I love the color palette in the seascape images. The Olympics are so very under used (and that’s ok too!), I do love going there and definitely will keep this spot in mind.

    Kate Church

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