Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther
Ruby Beach Engagement Photos
This Ruby Beach engagement was my last shoot in March before we all hibernated for a while, but it was one of those days that’s kept my cup filled as I’ve looked back at these photos over the last months. Want your own gorgeous sunset shoot framed by sea stacks? Not sure what those are? You know I won’t leave you hanging too long! Keep scrolling to learn everything you’ll need to plan your own epic Ruby Beach Engagement.
Meet Sarah and Daniela: The couple in these Ruby Beach Engagement Photos
So without further ado, meet Sarah and Daniela, the gorgeous, vibrant couple featured in these Ruby Beach engagement photos!
One of my favorite things about being an elopement photographer is showing couples all the secret hidden gems. I get to play tour guide *and* junior park ranger! So when I learned that Sarah and Daniela had never been to Washington, I was so stoked to share all.the.resources. Want me to go full-on Mollie geek out mode? I’m never as geeky or stoked as when I’m helping my couples plan their engagement or elopement!
Sarah and Daniela found me through a FB group on somewhat shorter notice, but luckily I had their date open. There’s so many good options for shoots around western Washington, and Sarah and Daniela landed on Ruby Beach for their special engagement shoot. What sold them was Ruby Beach’s incredible coast, which would let us capture their love framed by the rocks and the ocean. Since they’re both climbers, too, they had fun bouldering around on the sea stacks (another name for the large boulders off the coast. See, I promised I wouldn’t make you wait long!). I recommend the Olympic peninsula to most of my couples planning spring shoots, because even though it can be cloudy in March, the coast tends to have more sun than inland. Especially at Ruby Beach, you’re often treated with the most stunning reflection of the rocks off the water at sunset. As you can see, we definitely lucked out.
Their engagement session started in the Ruby Beach parking lot with snacks..because, duh. Then, we spent the day exploring. First, I got to teach them some cool facts about Ruby Beach and Olympic National Park. Did you know Ruby Beach gets its name from the ruby-colored crystals you’ll find glimmering as you walk along the beach? Or that they’re actually not rubies but red garnets? Or that Olympic National Park has 73 miles of wilderness coast and 60 named glaciers? Are you geeking out with me yet?
Then, Sarah, who loves film photography, pulled out her medium format film camera and taught me a few things! Gosh, film is such a cool medium and what a treat to learn something new. We spent the whole evening on the beach, and ended the night by lighting a lantern, drinking some boxed wine, and sharing more snacks (of course). By the end of our day together, we gave each other big hugs and I’d made two new friends (totally not uncommon).
So now that we are all big fans of Sarah and Daniela, let’s dive into how you, too can plan an epic trip to Ruby Beach.
Where to stay: Lodging and camping for your Ruby Beach Engagement
The Kalaloch Lodge is a historic lodge right near Ruby Beach. It’s actually the only coastal lodging available in Olympic National Park. So if you want to stay on the coast for your engagement or elopement and prefer not to tent camp, this is your spot! Kalaloch Lodge has a bunch of lodging options: rooms and suites in a Main Lodge and Seacrest House, 40 cabins, and a group campsite for groups bigger than 10. I stayed in a cabin for this engagement shoot and it was awesomely rustic, with rad views and a full kitchenette. Oh, and the cabins are also dog-friendly! They recommend making reservations at least four months in advance, but I snagged a spot in a cabin during the shoulder season (in March) with about a week’s notice.
Kalaloch Campground is a large campground managed by the National Park Service and is the best place to camp at Ruby Beach. It’s open year-round and has 175 campsites, including four ADA accessible sites. Amenities include flush toilets (can I get an amen), picnic tables and fire rings at every site. Pro tip: purchase firewood at the Kalaloch Lodge; don’t burn wood from the campground or National Park (it’s illegal- something I didn’t know until I read it, either) Depending on the time of year, Kalaloch Campground offers reservation or walk-ins. During the peak-season, May 20 through September 16, you can reserve campsites through recreation.gov on a 6-month rolling basis. During the non-peak season, walk-in sites are available (also known as first come, first serve). None of the sites are directly on the beach, but some have epic views of the water! As expected, the oceanview campsites fill quickly, so make sure to book early if you want those oceanviews! I know you do!
If you want to have a larger group with you for your Ruby Beach engagement (or elopement!), you should also check out the Kalaloch Campground Group camping site. The site has a 10 person minimum, 30 person maximum requirement, and amenities include pit toilets, and water, but no beach access. You can only reserve by calling: (360) 962-2271. Did someone say group site wedding?! String lights, dinner with an ocean view, and a first dance right by a bonfire. Click here for more details on how to plan your own elopement!
Best Airbnbs near Ruby Beach
If you’ve read some of my other blogs, you’ll probably notice I’m almost as big a fan of Airbnbs for engagements, elopements, adventure weddings and ceremonies as I am of snacks. If you don’t mind driving just a bit further than the Kalaloch Lodge, (these are on average an hour and a half from Ruby Beach), here are some seriously stunning waterfront, beach front and river front Airbnbs near Ruby Beach that would be perfect for your engagement.
Anyone else known to get lost in an Airbnb dream hole? I know my hand’s up! For more Airbnb inspo, check out my guide to planning an Airbnb elopement, which not only lists some of my other absolute favorite Airbnbs in Washington, but also includes my top Airbnb picks across all 50 states.
How to pick the perfect time of year for you visit: Understanding Ruby Beach weather
I love Ruby Beach for engagements, because the weather tends to be mild at Ruby Beach year-round and rarely gets below freezing even at night. It could be snowing up in the mountains of Olympic National Park, and in the mid 50s down along the coast at Ruby Beach. That said, there’s always a chance of rain in Olympic National Park and fog along the coast, so make sure you scroll to the next section to learn more about what to pack for your Ruby Beach engagement! Here’s more details about the seasonal weather in Ruby Beach to help you choose the best time for your visit:
Winter: Winter is definitely the wettest and coldest time of year in Ruby Beach. But it can also be pretty wild to watch the storms roll in over the coast, and experience some of that true PNW dramatic, cloudy weather.
Spring: The temperatures are cool to mild during the spring in Ruby Beach cool to mild temperatures. You will also find more sun on the coast than most other places in Washington state, so for couples who want a springtime PNW engagement, I always recommend the Olympic peninsula and coast.
Summer: Summer is the warmest and driest season in Ruby Beach. Along the coast, it sometimes gets more fogged in during the summer so you might get some of those epic moody clouds. It’s also the most popular time of year for people to visit Ruby Beach, so you may see more crowds.
Olympic National Park has a weather hotline, so you can also call the park’s weather hotline at 360-565-3131 before your visit.
What to pack for your Ruby Beach engagement session
Not quite sure what to pack for your Ruby Beach engagement session? I gotcha covered.
Here’s what you’ll want to bring:
National Park Pass
Towel and change of clothes
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Layers of clothes
Snacks (are you surprised?)
The America the Beautiful annual national park pass costs $80 and will last you for an entire year’s worth of adventures. It’s so worth the investment! Although you don’t need a park pass to get into the Ruby Beach parking lot, if you want to explore other areas in Olympic National Park, you’ll need a park pass. The water all along the Pacific coast is freezing, so I always tell my couples to bring a towel and change of clothes in case they want to jump in. (And if you need a rad PNW photographer hype gal to get the shot as you dip your toes in the Pacific for the first time, you know where to find me lol). The beach breeze at Ruby Beach can get chilly and the temperature changes drastically in Olympic National Park as the sun rises or sets, so I always recommend bringing sunglasses, sunscreen and plenty of layers that you can shed or add as needed.
If you’re planning a Ruby Beach elopement, check out my full Olympic National Park Elopement Guide for a longer list of things to pack, places to visit, and loads more.
Planning your trip to Ruby Beach on the Olympic Peninsula: Top 5 things to keep in mind
1. Ruby Beach is dog friendly (!!!!)
Some beaches in Olympic National Park don’t allow dogs, but luckily Ruby Beach allows dogs! Bring your pup and don’t forget the leash and poop bags. See the NPS website to learn more about pets at Olympic National Park.
2. Bonfires are not allowed at Ruby Beach
Although some beaches on the Olympic peninsula do allow fires, Ruby Beach is not one of them. That said, the Kalaloch campground has firepits so if you want to end your engagement night with s’mores around a campfire, that’s totally possible. And yes, I will bring the marshmallows!
3. Understand the tides at Ruby Beach
Since it’s a coastal destination, you’ll want to look up the tide schedule for your Ruby Beach engagement. You don’t want to get stuck at high tide! NOAA is a great source to check the tide schedule. Pro-tip: you don’t have to do this the morning of your engagement. Screenshot the tide schedule a few days before and save it to your phone!
4. How to Leave No Trace when you visit Ruby Beach
Whenever I head outside, I like to remind myself about the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace Foundation is a great starting point to learn more, and here are three additional tips to help you keep your Ruby Beach engagement trip Leave No Trace:
Plan ahead and prepare. (You’re on here, which is a great start!)
Pack it in, pack it out! Make sure you bring everything you need, and don’t leave any trash behind.
Check fire restrictions and regulations – head to the NPS site to learn more about the fire restrictions for the specific places you plan to visit. For example, although wood-burning camp stoves are allowed in the Ruby Beach Area, Olympic National Park restricts wood-burning camp stoves above 3,500 feet and along the far northern coast, between Wedding Rocks and Yellow Banks.
Practice Tidepool Etiquette – Did you know there’s guidelines for how to be a good tidepooler? A few include bringing a bag with you whenever you go to the tidepools (I know I always have mine!), and making sure to put any rock you do peek under back the way it was when you’re done. Visit this NOAA post for all the deets about proper tidepool etiquette at Ruby Beach.
5. Ruby Beach is remote — plan ahead!
Ruby Beach and Olympic National Park are remote places! Make sure you fill up on gas. Also, cell phone service may be limited! I have had some cell service (on AT&T) when I was there, but you never know. Because of how remote Ruby Beach is, it’s definitely a good idea to check in with someone, let them know where you’re headed and when you plan to be back before you go!
Are you ready to start planning your own Ruby Beach engagement session? Heck.yes. Reach out to me here and let’s get planning!
Ready to explore more elopements, weddings and adventures? Wander away below!
Between the Pine is an adventure elopement and wedding photography brand created by Mollie Adams. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Mollie travels with her camera in hand to document “I dos” in epic landscapes including Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii.