You don't even have to pronounce it correctly to enjoy it. You can say ""kal-al-lotch"" if you want, and it will still be as beautiful. Or you can pronounce it ""clay lock,"" and the locals will know what you are talking about. Whatever you say won't change the glory of this Olympic National Park treasure.
What makes this beach unique is the fact that a national scenic highway takes you within a sand dollar's toss of the surf, yet there's not a single private home for more than 10 miles. This is as close as you can get to the way the Pacific ocean front was 300 years ago, without hiking for miles.
The stretch of smooth, sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, tidepools and lazy creeks going home to mother has been preserved for you and your children's children. We can thank Congress and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created Olympic National Park in 1938.
I've visited Kalaloch since I was a kid, shortly after the continental glacier receded. My first memory of the place was of digging razor clams only 10 years after the park was created.
Back then, the Becker family owned the Kalaloch Resort. The old store hasn't changed much, the lodge has grown and more cabins have sprouted out of the ground like rain forest ferns - but the place still has that timeless feel.
My brother and I used to slip and slide along the trail that wandered through the rain forest up Kalaloch Creek, toting the solid fiberglass spinning rods my grandfather gave us. There was a pond up there with a moss-covered pumphouse.
We fished for hours, never catching a thing. We didn't care.
Once, I lost my fly around a log buried deep in a spot in Kalaloch Creek that flowed through a narrow rock passage. I returned the next morning to find the fly had caught a small trout all by itself.
You can spend days at Kalaloch simply watching the surf, listening to the waves massage the sand. It's the kind of place where you can get your fix for the great outdoors by osmosis.
But if you'd rather take a more active role in enjoying Kalaloch, you can walk the beach or climb on your bike for a 20-plus-mile ride along wide-shouldered Highway 101 from Ruby Beach to Queets and back. You can spend hours exploring tide pools at low tide or less than 45 minutes away, watch elk browsing in the Hoh Rain Forest.
Some of the best tide pools can be found directly in front of the Kalaloch Lodge, where rocks horde water from the outgoing tide and shelter starfish, sea anenomes, crabs and other tidal creatures. You don't need a particularly low tide to get to the rocks, either.
If you're walking the beach, you can hike at least 4 miles south from Kalaloch, crossing only small creeks along the way. You can hike north from Kalaloch, too. Start at the Kalaloch Campground across Kalaloch Creek from the lodge to avoid wading the creek.
You can walk about 2 miles north on the beach before encountering rocks that can be passed at low tide. These, too, are good places to find intertidal critters.
Outdoorsfolk and families on a budget won't find a better place to stay than the Kalaloch Campground, which rewards campers willing to play musical campsites with oceanfront spots. You'll pay $12 per night for a spot. There are no hookups, but rest rooms have running water and there's an RV dump station.
Just south of the campground is Kalaloch Lodge, which offers economy cabins without private baths, motel rooms and larger cabins. For reservations and room availability, call (360) 962-2271.
Another option for campers is the South Beach Campground, about 4 miles south of Kalaloch off Highway 101. This is a less well- developed campground with a single restroom, used mainly as an overflow area by campers arriving to find Kalaloch already full. Others in self-contained RVs prefer South Beach for its oceanfront spots and informality.
It's going to start raining seriously soon. Better get out there now, or as my hero Warren Miller says, you'll only be another year older when you do.
The quickest route to Kalaloch for most West Sound residents is to drive south on Highway 101 from Shelton. Take the McCleary cutoff, Highway 108, south of Shelton; drive through McCleary and join Highway 12, driving through Aberdeen and Hoquiam to rejoin Highway 101.
Drive north on Highway 101 about 70 miles to Kalaloch. Allow about 3 hours, 30 minutes.
You can make a loop trip home by continuing north on Highway 101, driving through Forks and Port Angeles. This is farther than the southerly route, and you should plan on spending at least 45 minutes more on the road.