Second Beach is located in Washington, facing out to the Pacific and hugging the coast of Olympic National Park. With whale sightings, breathtaking views, and easy hiking, there’s no excuse not to visit. I guess the only question left to ask is, can I camp there? Here we give you the full low-down.
Camping on Second Beach is allowed. You’ll just need to ensure you purchase a camping permit. This is reasonably affordable and easy to obtain through the Olympic National Park wilderness backpacking reservation site. Before you commit, remember that Second Beach is only accessible by hiking.
Below we outline the specifics of purchasing a permit and making your way to Second Beach. We’ve also made a handy list of need-to-knows before starting your adventure.
Camping on Second Beach is simple. You just need to purchase a camping permit from the Olympic National Park. This can be bought online at Recreation.gov and is super affordable.
Adults per night pay $8, while youths (anyone under 15) go free. It’s a great way to encourage the whole family to take a trip.
As well as purchasing a permit, you can only camp on Second Beach if you can hike there (with all your gear). Don’t let this put you off, the hike is relatively easy, and most ages should be able to manage it.
Generally taking an hour to cover a mile-long stretch to the beach, the trail leads through part of the Quileute Indian Reservation, which has gradual and slight inclines and descents.
Before you set off, we’ve outlined some handy need-to-knows about Second Beach.
This includes the best time to visit, what the camping conditions are like, the rules on the beach, amenities and activities on offer, what to pack, and alternatives to tent camping if you need it.
In case you choose to go the tent camping route, do check out my article on top beach camping tents!
1. Best Time to Visit
April through to October brings the best weather and camping conditions for a stay on Second Beach.
While the peak summer months of July and August bring hot days with the least chance of precipitation, they also bring hoards of crowds to the beach.
If you want a more peaceful camping experience, check out Second Beach during late spring or early autumn.
Just remember during these periods, the temperature drops, the weather can be unpredictable, and the beach trails can be more slippery.
2. Camping Conditions
Most camping on Second Beach is on the beach, but there are also a few forest sites if you prefer more shelter.
As with all beach camping, remember to pitch up above the high tide line for safety, and if you want some added protection against the wind, then pitch up your tent amongst the driftwood.
There are two streams near the beach where you can safely source your water. In case the water has a yellow tint, don’t worry, as this comes from the tannin in the leaves from the surrounding area.
Also handy to note here that you should always boil or filter coastal water, iodine tablets will not do the trick.
Since this is wilderness camping, amenities are scarce. There’s a pit toilet near the trail, at the entrance to the beach, so you won’t need to do all your business in the woods.
It can, however, get busy during the summer when the beach is crowded, so we’d recommend feeling comfortable going wild.
This is about the extent of amenities on Second Beach, so make sure if there is something you can’t live without, that you bring it along with you.
Remember that whatever you pack in, you must be prepared to pack out.
4. Rules on the Beach
Wilderness camping does not mean lawless camping, there are still several rules you must follow when camping on Second Beach and most are for your safety.
You can read more about the laws related to beach camping in the US in my in-depth article!
The first is that campfires are only allowed on the beach and must be made from wood brought in or driftwood you find along the shore.
Do not start cutting down the coastal forest, as this is protected by the park and home to precious ecosystems.
As well as this, Second Beach prohibits pets, the use of weapons, and any wheeled vehicles along the coast or hiking trails. So you’ll have to leave your furry friend at home.
Lastly, all food, garbage, and anything slightly scented must be stored in park-approved bear canisters overnight.
Follow these rules unless you want a bear poking around in your tent or a raccoon munching all your supplies!
One of the greatest reasons to visit Second Beach is due to the unique array of wildlife you can hope to encounter. We don’t just mean the bears and raccoons!
Spring is a fantastic time to watch gray or humpback whales migrating from California to Alaska.
Even when they decide to migrate back, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of them during October if you plan to camp then.
Alongside the marine life, birds are in abundance, and you may be lucky enough to spot a golden eagle flying along the coast or in the forests surrounding the peaks in Olympic National Park.
Alongside camping and wildlife watching, Second Beach offers a range of other activities to enjoy. Since the beach is located along the Olympic Park coast, the choice of hikes and trails is almost unlimited.
Various hikes from Second Beach allow beginners to enjoy other nearby beaches like Ruby or Rialto Beach, as well as more strenuous hikes to Hoh Rain Forest or Lake Quinault.
Another popular pastime at the beach is photography, with endless photo opportunities, especially at the Quateata Arch, located at the beach’s northern tip.
It’s also nice to check out the famous, historic sea stacks, which came under protection by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1907.
7. What To Pack
Along with all your usual camping gear, there are some essentials you really can’t forget when venturing out to Second Beach.
The first is a good pair of walking or hiking boots. While you may be planning to pack flip-flops or sandals, the trail to Second Beach can be rocky, and it’s best to protect your feet and be prepared.
Next are sunscreen and sunglasses. Even if you’re camping outside during the summer, the beach can get seriously sunny, so make sure to protect your skin.
As well as packing layers for cold nights and waterproofs for potential rain, ensure that you pack rubbish bags above all.
Wilderness camping, like all camping, focuses on leaving your campsite as if you had never been there.
8. Alternatives to Camping
While camping can feel romantic, it can get hard and cold, so it’s sometimes nice to know there are other options. Fortunately, along Second Beach is Quileute Oceanside Resort.
It’s a charming motel with rooms, cabins, RV parks, and even campsites available if you want an extra slice of luxury.
It also makes visiting Second Beach much more accessible during winter, especially when the weather can be cold and stormy.
If you’re considering camping on Second Beach, we cannot recommend it enough. As well as being affordable, buying a camping permit through the Olympic National Park website is easy.
We hope this article also gives you everything you need to know about camping on this spectacular beach, from the best time to visit, to what camping conditions to expect.
Since this is a wilderness camping destination, remember that whatever you bring here must be taken with you when you leave!