Hole in the Wall: Pro Tips for Exploring This Iconic Spot in Washington's Olympic National Park

Washington's Hole-in-the-Wall is an easy 4-mile round-trip beach hike filled with sea stacks, marine life, driftwood, surfers, and campsites. It exudes ultimate moody vibes for the perfect PNW adventure year round. Read on for directions and pro tips for discovering one of Washington's iconic coastal landmarks.

Moment of truth: I love the snow, but sometimes I don't want to deal with icy roads, micro spikes, or chains but still want the fresh air and adventure that comes with time well spent in the great outdoors. So where do I go? The ocean!!

Washington's coast rarely gets snowfall, which is why it can be a fantastic winter activity for those who don't want to deal with the intricacies that come with snowy exploration. At Rialto Beach, seasoned surfers shred impressive waves, backpackers set up camp among beach grass, whales sometimes spout in the distance, otters play, and hikers walk the 2 miles to Washington's Hole-in-the-Wall. It's a must-visit destination for anyone driving through Olympic National Park.

Here's everything you need to know!

At a Glance:

What to Pack (Day Trip)

What to Pack (if Camping)

The Day Trip List +

  • Tent: I use the MSR Hubba NX Tent for all my overnight adventures.

  • Camp Stove/Jetboil: Here's a super compact pocket stove I love!

  • Propane for Your Stove: They look like this!

  • Camp Meals: I usually bring along a freeze-dried entrée or two to end the day with a hot meal. Backpacker's Pantry has some of my favorite dishes, including this Jamaican Style Jerk Rice with Chicken.

  • Spork: You'll thank me later.

  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, medicine and other toiletries.

  • Slip-on shoes: I kick off my hiking boots and slip on my socks and birks once I arrive at camp.

  • Sleeping Bag: Check out Wonderland Gear Exchange, the used gear section at REI, or other secondhand gear shops for lightly used sleeping bags and expert advice on what to purchase for your camping needs.

  • Sleeping Pad: I love my Klymit Insulated Static V Ultralite pad.

  • Bear Canister: Pick one of these up for free from a permit office or purchase a better quality and lighter one online. These are required and necessary to keep aggressive racoons away.

  • Trash Bag: What comes in must go out. If you see trash that isn't yours, go ahead and pick that up too!

How to Get There

If you're coming from Seattle, I recommend the scenic route. Catch the Bainbridge Island Ferry from the Colman Dock and head north through Port Angeles and onto Highway 101. You'll drive through Olympic National Park, pass Lake Crescent with its crystal clear blue waters, and eventually arrive at Forks. Then turn right onto 110 and right again on Mora Rd. to reach Rialto Beach, where the Quillayute River meets the ocean.

Going south through Tacoma and Olympia is more of a straight shot and avoids ferry fees.

Pro tip: Drive the whole loop for the ultimate adventure!

Rialto Beach

In a normal year, permit beach camping is available on a first come, first served basis (obtained from the park office in Port Angeles) and it's epic! Just imagine the beach bonfires as you watch the sun set behind the sea stacks. Truly unreal.

Recreation.org is currently requiring all permit reservations be made online.

The Hike to Hole in the Wall

Length: 4 miles round trip

Elevation: 0

On the beach, driftwood dots the shore, James and Little James islands sit pretty to your left, surfers ride breaks in front, and to the right–way down at the first outcropping 2 miles ahead–is the Hole-in-the-Wall. You'll likely join backpackers as you start your 4-mile, round-trip beach hike, walking to secure their campsite in the beach grass. Don't forget to keep an eye out for otters, seals, whales, and other wildlife as you make your leisurely stroll down this PNW beach!

Pro Tip: Hole-in-the-wall is only accessible at low tide. Use NOAA's Tide Chart to plan accordingly.

Can you spot Hole in the Wall in the distance?

Photo by Jake Lewis

The split sea stack is the last landmark before arriving at Hole-in-the-Wall. You can't miss it. If you're there at low tide, walk through the Hole and explore the tide pools teaming with more marine life.

Tidepool Etiquette

  • Watch your step! Avoid stepping on wildlife whenever possible. Research shows that 200 steps an hour destroys every living thing in that area and can take up to 10 undisturbed years to completely recover.

  • Never pick up or take anything home with you.

  • Lightly touching creatures like anemones, mussels, and barnacles is okay, but never force them off a rock and make sure you understand what's safe to touch. There are some truly amazing organisms out there, some with impressive defense mechanisms!

  • Always keep an eye on the water. You never know when a wave might sneak up on ya!

If you're there at high tide, don't worry! Hike up the outcropping to get above Hole-in-the-Wall for a spectacular panoramic view!

Where to Stay

  • Manitou Lodge Bed & Breakfast (10 minutes from Rialto Beach) This BnB is as close as you can get to the Hole-in-the-Wall. It's an adorable cozy resort on the Sol Duc River complete with lodge rooms, a detached cottage with individual rooms, tiny cabins, campsites, and more. Check pricing here.

  • Misty Valley Inn (21 minutes from Rialto Beach) Stay smack in the middle of rainforest in a stone and cedar home with a free insanely delicious-looking breakfast (I'd order the Washington Apple Soufflé or the Irish Waffles with Orange Sauce) and a hot tub with a view. Check pricing here.

  • Kalaloch Lodge (1 hour from Rialto Beach) Love laid-back rooms with a view? The Kalaloch Lodge has two lodges and plenty of tiny cabins as well as a restaurant that serves up some incredible clam chowder. It's also just a short walk to Washington's beautiful Tree of Life. Check out the live webcam! See pricing here.

Photo by Matt Mattox

Where to Camp

  • Wilderness Camping on Rialto Beach (o miles from Rialto Beach) Permit: Yes Reservations: Yes. Reserve here. Bear canisters are required (more for the raccoons than bears) I always go the backcountry route! These primitive campsites are absolutely stunning! They're nestled among seagrass just feet away from the Hole-in-the-Wall on Rialto Beach.

  • Mora Campground (6 minutes from Rialto Beach) Number of sites: 94 Permit?: No Reservations?: Yes (reserve 6 months in advance) Price: $24-$48 This is the closest campground to Rialto with facilities, and it's right next to the Sol Duc River.

  • Kalaloch Campground (1 hour from Rialto Beach) Number of sites: 175 Permit: No Reservations: Yes (reserve 6 months in advance) Price: $24-$48 Located next to Kalaloch Lodge, these campsites line the shore and are next to both a pond and the Quillayute River.

Don't forget to Leave No Trace:

  • Pack in/pack out

  • Camp only in designated camping areas

  • Build your bonfire below the high tide line so the water washes away the debris

  • Admire wildlife from a distance

Happy wandering!

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