The Tree of Life is a gorgeous, breathtaking, unusual phenomenon that has gone against the realities of gravity, nature, and time. This extraordinary glitch has grown to become one of the most popular views in the West Coast of Washington. Bringing in thousands of curious eyes all hoping to catch a glimpse of the suspended tree before it eventually meets its untimely demise from the natural course of nature.
Throughout this Kalaloch tree guide, we will uncover the history of the magical tree root cave, unusual facts, and popular things to do when visiting the Coastal shores of Washington. Plus, go over our own personal experience when visiting this wondrous tree.
History of the Kalaloch Tree of Life
The Kalaloch Tree of Life has been around for quite some time and was relatively unknown until the past few decades when tourists began to photograph this strange phenomenon, thus bringing in trickles of curious travelers from around the world to marvel at the seemingly floating tree.
We found out about this gravity defying tree via social media and once we saw it, we knew we had to make the trip out to the beach before gravity wreaked any more havoc upon it.
Other Names for the Tree of Life
While the official name of the tree is “Kalaloch Tree” it also has developed different names that all pertain to its unique features.
- Kalaloch Tree
- Runaway Tree
- Tree Root Cave
- Tree of Life
What Kind of Tree is the Kalaloch Tree of Life?
This is my moment to shine, I have a degree in Biology so I was a bit of a plant nerd when it came to learning more official facts about this specimen.
Species: Picea Sitchensis
The Runaway Tree is a Sitka Spruce, one of the largest species of Spruces. It belongs to the family Pinaceae and is a large evergreen tree that reaches 300 feet tall when in the right environment; what makes it the largest of its kind is its trunk diameter reaching up to 16 feet and sometimes more.
Although when you compare it to other large species of conifers trees, such as the Redwoods in California or the Giant Sequoias, it’s still relatively small.
The Sitka Spruce can also reach to be around 800 years old! Although, we don’t think that will be the case for the Tree of life as it clings to life over its widening gap of a home.
Looking for other Hidden Gems in Washington? Read our Post!
The Future of the Tree of Life?
The tree of life under normal circumstances be able to reach up to 800 years old. However due to the rather unusual circumstances that the runaway tree finds itself in. We predict it will live much less due to its unfavorable conditions such as soil erosion caused by the stream coming from within the tree root cave that slowly has been widening the gap beneath the tree.
As well as erosion from the sea as sea levels rise and the tide comes in and slowly pulls soil from around the root cave. Combine that with the powerful gusty winds that the West Coast of Washington is known for, and you have a reckoning waiting to happen.
However, besides natural causes leading the ultimate demise of this peculiar tree, there is also the issue with increased tourism in the area. While tourism in itself is not the culprit but rather people grabbing on to the roots of the tree and dangling off them or trying to climb the tree.
What to pack for visiting the tree of life
When visiting the Tree of Life, which is located on the coastal shores of Washington in Kalaloch Beach, you will want to come prepared, even if the forecast says clear skies and warm weather.
The reason is because even during great weather the day can suddenly turn into a gloomy and cloudy one and sometimes randomly hit with rain.
That’s what happened to us! One moment it was clear skies and a slight breeze. The next thing we knew, we were surrounded by rain clouds and then the pouring of rain happened.
Which brings us to our point, if you are planning to visit the tree of life during the rainy seasons from October to May in Washington. Then you will especially want to come prepared because pacific northwest rain storms are chilly!
Now that we got our lovely Washington climate out of the way, let’s talk about what you should consider bringing when visiting the Kalaloch Beach and Tree of life:
Tree of Life Packing List
Pack Rain Gear
The last thing you want is to get soaked while exploring the tree of life! The chances are high for that happening too! So bring a rain poncho and umbrella just to be safe. The good news is the Tree of life is very close to where you park so you won’t have to lug around your items too far.
Bring a spare change of clothes to change into
We always recommend that you bring a spare change of clothes to switch into. Sometimes you’ll come dressed for cold weather and realize it’s too hot, and you need to shed some layers. Or vice versa, and you need to switch into some warm and dry clothes after getting swamped with rain.
Bring sunblock, and bug spray
The last thing you want is a nasty sunburn or mosquito bites, they are everywhere. Even though Washington coastal areas aren’t the hottest, and sometimes they are cloudy it’s still a good idea to get into the habit of always wearing sunblock.
Also, since the tree is near forested areas with freshwater, there will be mosquitos. We got a decent amount of bites all because we forgot to wear some.
Wear a hat and sunglasses
Protect your eyes and face from the harsh uv rays, we almost always wear hats when we are out and about in mother nature. Sunglasses are great for protecting your eyes from the harsh bright light, especially if you aren’t usually outside. the dramatic switch can give us headaches sometimes.
Bring waterproof shoes
Its a beach, so you will get sand in all sorts of places, but especially true if it’s raining or the tide is high. So make sure to bring some waterproof shoes and some to change into when you are done.
Tips for Visiting the Tree root cave
Check Tide Chart
Can’t stress this enough! Check out a tide chart before heading out there.
Visit during sunset or sunrise
The best photos of this gorgeous tree are during golden hour, so try to make it there during sunset or sunrise. It also happens to be when there are the least amount of tourist in the area.
How to Get to the Tree of life from Seattle
Driving from Seattle to the Tree of life is a relatively easy forest and coastal road trip from Seattle and a simple task, although it is around a 3.5-hour drive. There are multiple different routes you can take, such as driving and then hopping on a ferry and then driving the rest of the way.
We don’t like having to deal with the ferry schedule or the long lines, so we drive the whole route via one of the two routes below. It’s the perfect road trip! Just don’t forget to bring good Car food & snacks and some games you play in the car.
Scenic Route with Popular pit stops along the west coast to Tree of life
This scenic route to the Tree of Life goes past Tacoma and then either through Gig Harbor and takes routes Sr-16, Sr-3, and Us-101. If you plan on making other stops along the west coast, this route will take about 4 hours to complete but goes by port angeles, forks, Popular Washington Lakes, and other popular west coast destinations like Washington Lighthouses.
Faster Route from Seattle to Tree of Life
If you want a faster route, take route 101 N via Olympia. This shorter route is 170 miles from Seattle. It will go past Olympia and have you hop on route 101 N to Aberdeen, then hop on SR- 8 W to Aberdeen, then pop off to US-12 W and follow directions the rest of the way till you reach Kalaloch Campgrounds.
Where to park for the Tree of life
The Kalaloch Tree of life is located in Kalaloch Beach. You will want to park at Kalaloch Campgrounds because it is the closest parking to the actual tree location. When you park, you will head down the paved path and go to the wooden steps to the beach. The Runaway tree will be located on your right, about 50 feet from the steps.
When is the best time to visit the Kalaloch tree?
The best time to visit the Kalaloch Tree is during sunset or sunrise, the reasoning is because of two major key points.
- Crowds: During the early morning, there will be fewer crowds; thus, you can take your time admiring the tree and snapping as many photos as you like. In the evening, the crowds are depleting during sunset, and you will have fewer people to compete with for photos.
- Lighting: Great lighting is during two times of the day, sunrise and sunset since the sun will be behind you as you shoot photos of the tree sunset is our personal favorite. However, the morning also offers that golden light that makes photos so pretty, especially in nature.
When is the worst time to visit the Tree of Life?
The worst time to visit the Tree of Life is during peak crowds, usually from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm on most days. This is also when the light from the sun is the harshest and is directly behind or above the tree, making taking photos especially difficult.
Wondering when the best time to visit other popular destinations in Washington is? Read our Guide to know what season you should visit Washington in!
Warning!! Be Careful; there is a lot of driftwood that you will have to climb over to get close to the tree. We advise not doing that and watching it from afar because some of the wood moves when you step on it, or it could break.
Where to stay in Kalaloch
*These values and info are based on May 2023; remember, they can change without notice, so always check the official site before heading out there.
Standard Nonelectric: $24.00 nightly/ daily rates
Rv Nonelectric: $24.00 nightly/daily rates
Group Site Nonelectric: $48.00 nightly/daily rates
Campsites: 170 spots
Season: All Year
Reservation Required: Reservations are accepted from the end of May to the middle of September. Typically some campsites will be first come, first serve for a number of spots.
Amenities: BBQ Grills, Tables, Drinking water, Fire Pits, and other various things.
*as of May 2023, always double-check before heading out there or booking. Please feel free to check on the Kalaloch Lodge Site.
Kalaloch Lodging Options:
Kalaloch Main Lodge
Pets Allowed: Not allowed
The main Lodge is the perfect spot for travelers who want a good home base for their Olympic Peninsula travels.
The main lodge is perfect for people who don’t want to be completely cut off from the world. This lodge has a tv in its Kalaloch suite and Beckers suite so make sure to book those if you need some tv time. Also, keep in mind there are no telephones in this lodge.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, with a bring the dogs rate and one-time non-refundable pet deposit of $25 pet and a max of two pets.
Whether you love ocean views or crave a romantic getaway with your partner, these cabins are too cute to pass up! With no distractions such as TVs, phones, and wifi, you’ll really be able to separate and enjoy your peaceful vacation while on the west coast.
Pets: Not Allowed
Want something that’s not too secluded but still has fantastic Ocean views? Then the Seacrest House is your go-to. This stay features beautiful pacific ocean views. Depending on what room you get, you’ll either have a balcony to relax at or your very own private patio for winding down and becoming one with nature. Because this stay focuses on detaching from Tvs, wifi, and phones.
Dining near Tree of life
- Creekside Restaurant
- Located: Kalaloch Lodge
- Hard Rain Cafe & Mercantile
- Located: about 18 miles from Kalaloch
- Salmon House Restaurant
- Located: About 27 miles from Kalaloch
- Koko’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar
- Located: About 30 miles from Kalaloch
9 Things To Do Near the Tree of Life
- Visit Forks
- Have a Picnic
- Spend the day at Olympic National Forest and visit cool stuff like Lake Crescent
- Explore the Hoh rainforest Forest of mosses
- Take a hike through Sul duk
- Relax at Kalaloch Beach
- Head to Ruby beach for iconic photos
- Relax at Rialto Beach
- Visit La Push Beach
That wraps up our guide for visiting the famous Tree of life! We hope you got all the info you needed before making the trio out for yourself. Just keep in mind, that you will want to do it soon, as there is never a guarantee the tree will be there.