Watch a Winter Storm on the Pacific Coast

Olympic National Park, Washington
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Olympic National Park, Washington
national parks in winter

From the Makah Shi Shi trailhead, stroll 2 miles through the rainforest, then scout for a sheltered site along the next 2.3 miles of beach. photo: Ethan Welty

Instead of hiding from winter rains, hardy souls celebrate the Northwest’s dreary season with stormwatching trips to the sleety Pacific, where ferocious, 20-foot rollers regularly pound the evergreen-fringed beach. For a front-row seat, head to Shi Shi Beach on the park’s northern tip: The sand is wide enough here to put a safe distance between your tent and the waves, and you won’t need to cross any swollen creeks. From the Makah Shi Shi trailhead, stroll 2 miles through the rainforest, then scout for a sheltered site along the next 2.3 miles of beach. Note: Consult the tide table pretrip and avoid the highest high tides (above about 8 feet), which can produce dangerously big waves, and check current storm conditions with rangers. Season November to March Permit Two required. Pick up a park permit ($5/person per night) at one of three visitor centers and a Makah Recreation Pass ($10) in Neah Bay.