Last year when our first lockdown started easing up and JBLM allowed soldiers a wider travel distance, we took a quick trip to Forks as a family just to get away. We’d hoped to visit the ocean beaches up north, but when we got there, everything was still closed due to COVID. With the clock ticking on our time here in the PNW, I knew I had to prioritize visiting Ruby Beach and the Tree of Life sooner than later if we ever wanted to see them. It’s a bit of a drive from JBLM, but with a sunny day and no plans, what better than a trip up north, right?
Where is Ruby Beach?
Ruby Beach and Kalaloch, where the Tree of Life is located, are on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula, about 30 minutes from Forks, Washington. It’s a part of the Olympic National Park, which means that the whole region is well protected, and people take great care of the local environment. From the driftwood to the birds, animals, flora, and beyond, everything out here is special and well-protected.
For those stationed at JBLM, Ruby Beach is about a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from North Fort. It’s a beautiful drive that starts off on i5 but gives way to beautiful backroads and farm country, eventually dumping you on the Olympic Peninsula Loop for epic ocean views and more.
The Kalaloch Tree of Life
Another one of my JBLM bucket list items was visiting the Kalaloch Tree of Life, also known as the Tree Root Cave. Honestly, this is one of the most awe-inspiring things we’ve seen here in the PNW, and it’s only about 10 minutes from Ruby Beach, so it was a no-brainer to visit the two in one fell swoop.
The Tree of Life is a Sitka spruce, which is also the largest type of spruce – and cool – but not what sets it apart. The Kalaloch Tree of Life is literally hanging to two separating sides of a coastal bluff by thick roots, which hang beneath it. It is honestly one of the most incredible sights to see, and only time will tell how long the Tree of Life clings to, well, life in this position. The weight of the tree and roots cause it to inevitably sag and dip in the middle, and while the tree clings to the sides, a stream inside the Tree Root Cave continues to wash the soil and rocks beneath it out to the ocean each year. Thankfully, everyone we saw admired the tree, but nobody touched or held the roots.
Why Visit Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach is iconic in its own right. Unlike beaches 1 and 2 leading up to Ruby Beach, it’s not a sand beach. Instead, it’s rocky, covered in pebbles and driftwood leading right up to the ocean’s edge. A river runs to the back of the beach, and the kids spent most of the time splashing and playing in that water – and yes – it’s cold! We were treated to gorgeous sun, which made this early spring beach day even more popular than ever, but people gave others space, and we managed to celebrate one of our sweet friends’ birthdays in the most beautiful way possible!
Ruby Beach’s sea stacks (or the immense rock formations emerging from the sea) are a super popular feature for photographers, so as the sun starts to set, the photographers and their clients begin to arrive. It’s a stunning sight, and I actually have a family shoot planned there in the beginning of May, so I’ll get my turn, too! Mieke and the boys loved collecting the super smooth stones and throwing them into the water. As for us? From the moment we stood atop the the hill and looked down, we just soaked it up. I can understand why Ruby Beach is so popular. It’s awe-inspiring.
Visiting Ruby Beach & the Tree of Life
When the world shut down last year, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t know if we’d get here again. I didn’t know if visiting Ruby Beach and the Tree of Life was in the cards for us. Driving that far solo with the kids while Ryan is TDY isn’t always the easiest, but I don’t regret it because the kids soaked it up as much as I did. There is an undeniable beauty to the Olympic region, and I’m so glad we’ve had the opportunity to explore it!
Tell me – Have you ever visited Ruby Beach or the Tree of Life?