Rialto Beach isn’t just any ordinary beach. It’s a wild, rugged, remote stretch of rocky sand sprinkled with sea stacks, tidepools, exotic marine life, and of course, the famous sea-carved arch, Hole-in-the-Wall. And it’s one of the best beaches in Washington!
Though you might think a stroll along a beach from a parking lot to a rock with a giant hole in it is boring, it’s not! Along the Rialto Beach trail, you’ll traverse across rocks, sand, scattered driftwood, and a creek while you glimpse the angry waves and lofty sea stacks surrounded by tidepools to the west and the wildlife-filled forest to the east.
You won’t want to miss the Rialto Beach trail on your visit to Olympic National Park!
In this comprehensive trail guide, I’m sharing how to hike on Rialto Beach to see the famous Hole-in-the-Wall sea arch. You’ll learn how to get to the trailhead, what time of year to hike it, how to hike on the beach safely, and exactly what you can expect on the entire beach trail.
Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail Guide
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Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail Stats
The Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall trail is located on the Washington State coast in Olympic National Park. Get directions to the trailhead here.
Olympic National Park is one of three stunning National Parks located in the state of Washington! If you have the time, I’d recommend traveling to all of them on an epic Washington state road trip.
Rialto Beach is one of the easier beaches to access on the Olympic Peninsula. This also makes it one of the most popular.
From LaPush Road, you’ll turn onto Mora Road. After 5 miles of driving next to the Quillayute River, the road will dead-end at the Rialto Beach parking lot.
There is a day-use parking lot to the right and a parking lot just for campers to the left.
The day-use parking lot is quite small and it fills up very quickly, especially in the summer. Arrive early or come later after the day-trippers have left.
🚰 There are restrooms and potable water at the trailhead.
Access to Rialto Beach is year-round, but the best time to hike any of the Olympic beaches is April through October.
During the spring, summer, and fall seasons, you will experience warmer temperatures and less rain. The winter is the rainiest season on the Washington coast.
Rialto Beach hours are sunrise to sunset unless you are camping on the beach. You need an overnight wilderness permit to camp in Olympic National Park, including any of the backcountry beaches like Rialto.
Since Rialto Beach is inside Olympic National Park boundaries, you’ll need a National Park pass to park your car in the Rialto Beach parking area.
Purchase an America the Beautiful pass online ($80 – includes access to ALL National Parks for an entire year) or purchase a 7-day Olympic National Park pass for $30 at one of the visitor centers or ranger stations.
Access to the Rialto Beach trail is adjacent to the parking lot. The trail follows the beach; there isn’t a cut path.
Your journey will begin with a northbound walk on the beach for 1 mile.
Along this 1-mile trek, you’ll be walking on a beach that is mixed with both sand and rock.
As you’re walking along the beach, make sure you are taking the time to absorb your surroundings. Look at both sides of the beach.
On your right, you will see a wooded forest. Wildlife is frequently spotted in this area, and bald eagles are known to perch on the treetops. Bring your binoculars!
On your left is the Pacific Ocean, of course! But it’s not just an ocean. It’s a wild ocean filled with rugged sea stacks and exotic oceanic creatures. Watch and listen to the waves as they angrily lick the sea stacks and crash over the rocks.
The tidepools on Rialto Beach are filled with colorful sea stars, crabs, barnacles, urchins, anemones, and so much more. Take the time to explore the little hidden alcoves overflowing with these sea creatures; these tidepools are some of the best in Washington!
Around the 1-mile mark, you’ll reach Ellen Creek, which flows from the east side of the beach (the forested area) and spills onto the beach and into the ocean.
Depending on the time of year that you hike Rialto Beach, Ellen Creek might be flowing or it might not. Prepare to get your feet wet, just in case!
Around the 1.5-mile mark, you’ll reach a spot that can only be crossed at low tide. This is the rocky area that leads to the Hole-in-the-Wall arch!
You will have probably seen Hole-in-the-Wall a little ways back on the beach (it’s the rock with the giant hole carved in it 😉), but now it’ll officially be in front of your face.
To reach the sea-carved arch and climb underneath it (again, at low tide ONLY), you’ll need to traverse some slippery rocks. When I say that they’re slippery, I mean that they’re super slippery. Use extra caution as you scramble across the wet rocks.
If you can, take the time to step behind the arch, in front of the arch, and beneath the arch. Explore the tidepools that are tucked around the rocks; they are teeming with unique oceanic critters in every color of the rainbow!
If you happen to be hiking this trail when the tide is in, don’t worry. The rocks leading up to the arch will be buried underwater, so you cannot go under the Hole-in-the-Wall arch. But you can view it from above!
In fact, whether or not the tide is in or out, I’d encourage you to use the overland trail above the arch and draw in the panoramic views from the top.
Once you’re done exploring Hole-in-the-Wall, it’s time to head back. The good news is that, since you’ll be taking the same walk back to your car, you can explore anything that you missed on the way to the arch!
Take the time to photograph the sea stacks, study the tidepools, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife in the woods.
When to Hike Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall
The best time to hike Rialto Beach is April through October.
The weather will undoubtedly be rainy and cloudy no matter what time of year you come. That’s classic Pacific Northwest climate for you!
That being said, coming in the summer months does give you a better chance at a semi-warm, precipitation-free day. Or, if you’re extra lucky, you might get to see some sunshine on the beach, which is a rarity!
What to Bring on Your Hike
Always carry the 10 essentials with you!
- Plenty of snacks. You’ll want to take a break on the beach!
- Water. Yes, even in the colder weather!
- Emergency blanket. For emergencies or night hikes.
- Extra layers. PNW weather can be unpredictable.
- First aid kit >>> Read my First Aid Basics for Hikers guide here.
- Navigation. I use Gaia GPS and bring a Garmin inReach Mini for emergencies.
- Headlamp. For emergencies or night hikes.
- Sun protection like sunscreen, sun hat, and sun shirt.
Pro Tips For Hiking Rialto Beach + Must-Know Safety Tips!
- Check the tides before you go. It’s possible to get stranded because certain areas of the coast become impassable when high tide rolls in.
- Low tide is the best time to hike Rialto Beach. During this time, you can see the tidepools and traverse the rock scrambles to reach Hole-in-the-Wall.
- Hike the overland trail located above the Hole-in-the-Wall for epic panoramic views of the beach.
- Bring sturdy shoes. Leave the flip-flops at home! Parts of the beach are rocky, and the rocks here are slippery.
- Bring the 10 essentials with you on your hike.
- Always leave no trace!
FAQ’s About Rialto Beach
Can I Camp on Rialto Beach?
Yes! To camp on Rialto Beach, you’ll need to obtain a backcountry wilderness permit online ahead of time.
→ READ NEXT: 10 Tips For Beach Camping
How Far is Rialto Beach From Seattle?
Rialto Beach is about 4 hours from Seattle, making it the perfect weekend trip from Seattle.
There are three different route options, all about 4 hours:
- The Ferry Route: Take a ferry across Puget Sound and drive through Port Angeles (the north side of the park).
- Port Angeles/No Ferry Route: Skip the ferry and drive south from Seattle, curve around Puget Sound through Tacoma, and drive through Port Angeles (the north side of the park).
- Southern/No Ferry Route: Skip the ferry, drive south from Seattle, and continue south past Tacoma and around the southern end of the park.
There’s not a bad route to take because, on your way to Rialto Beach, you can stop at other wonderful places in Olympic National Park.
Where Should I Stay If I Don’t Want to Camp on the Beach?
If you still want to camp but not in the backcountry or on the beach, you can camp at Mora Campground. This is the closest campground to Rialto Beach.
If you don’t want to camp, you can stay in the town of Forks. Search hotels here.
Is Rialto Beach Dog-Friendly?
Dogs are allowed on a leash from the Rialto Beach parking area to Ellen Creek, which is about 1 mile into the Hole-in-the-Wall hike.
Dogs are not allowed to go further than Ellen Creek, which means they cannot go to the Hole-in-the-Wall arch.
Dogs are not allowed to camp with you on Rialto Beach, either.
→ READ NEXT: 13 Most Dog-Friendly National Parks in the USA
Other Things to Do in Olympic National Park
While you’re in Olympic National Park, here are some other things you must see and do!
- Hike through the Hoh Rainforest. Hall of Mosses is a short and sweet trail, or for a longer adventure, hike the Hoh River Trail.
- Visit the other coastal beaches in Olympic National Park like Second, Ruby, Shi Shi, and Kalaloch.
- Summit Mount Storm King on a clear day and stop by Marymere Falls along the way.
- See the incredible Sol Duc Falls.
- Go paddling on Lake Crescent.
- Drive to Hurricane Ridge.
Discover Your Next Adventure
Where to next? I’ve got some suggestions!