Out of this world: the Olympic Wilderness Coast

Olympic Wilderness Coast (Backpacking)

Drive time: 5 hours
Hike: 2 to 40 miles (RT)

DR. SEUSS himself would raise an eyebrow at the otherworldliness of this, one of the wildest beaches left in the Lower 48—from its fanciful tidal pools to massive “sea stacks” rising like hairy primordial beasts from the surf. And it’s all within easy schlepping distance of your parking spot at Rialto Beach. Overnighters must hike at least a mile to reach legal camping, after which there’s an array of places to pitch your tent—behind driftwood in the sand, or in the trees (check the tide tables for which to use, lest you wake up wet). Heartier types with detailed tidal maps can continue 20 miles to Lake Ozette. Here, where all you can hear is the crashing surf, the passing orcas and undulating urchins will become your closest friends. —RANDY GRAGG

Vitals: nps.gov/olym; open year-round; $7