The wind and rain have returned to Grays Harbor, ending the last of the sunny autumn outings for a bit. For many, the darker days signal that it is time to retreat back into our homes and place a pause on adventure time. There is a beauty in the oncoming deluge, though. Few places are as cozy as catching storm season along the coast of Grays Harbor. Stacked against the Pacific, at the mercy of the beating waves, blasting winds and sideways rains, Grays Harbor’s storm-watching destinations will leave you excited for inclement weather. Whether you are looking for fun, safe time with friends or are hoping for a romantic getaway, take a day trip to Grays Harbor for storm watching; you’ll be glad you did.

Grays Harbor storm watching
The power of the Pacific storms is quite impressive and easily seen along the beaches of Grays Harbor Photo credit: John Floyd

The North Beach of Grays Harbor is no stranger to powerful storms. In the early 1900s, the popular resorts along the beach at Moclips were washed away by storm surges. Now, the buildings are pulled back from the breakers, giving you a chance to see the power of the Pacific Northwest from a safe distance. In Moclips, one such spot to storm watch is found at the Ocean Crest. The Ocean Crest rests on a bluff overlooking the ocean, offering rooms to watch the waves should you wish to turn your day trip into a getaway. Some rooms even have standalone fireplaces and balconies, elevating the storm watching experience. An added bonus to staying here is the restaurant, which is second to none in serving up incredible bites and drinks. During the day, nearby Moclips Beach is a great spot to experience the power of the storms first hand.

Further south, at Seabrook, beach access is easy, allowing those who want to brave the wind and rain a chance to do so before returning to their cozy confines. The community of Seabrook offers homes and cabins to rent, just a short walk from the beach should you wish to stay. Up on the bluffs, where you can still hear the waves and wind, the town has restaurants, shops, spots to grab a drink and recreation activities, perfect for groups of any size.

Those hoping for a longer stormy day adventure need to head up to Kalaloch Beach and see the waves breaking against the sea stacks at Ruby Beach.

Grays Harbor storm watching
The Westport Jetty is an amazing place to watch storms roll in. Photo credit: Tom Collins

North of Copalis is Roosevelt Beach, also known as Mocrocks, is a local favorite during the winter months, both for storm watching and razor clam digging. Iron Springs Resort nearby is another one-stop storm watching spot for those looking for more than a day trip to Grays Harbor. Iron Springs is right near the water, with cabins, private decks, wood-burning fireplaces and direct beach access for your storm watching wanderings. Kalaloch and Ruby Beach also make a great day trip before returning to Iron Springs.

Before reaching the southern end of the north beach, storm watching from the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino is a classic destination. With beach access right out the door, restaurants and entertainment inside, you can spend a day or the whole weekend storm watching here. Ocean facing rooms give an elevated view of the breaking waves in the near distance, letting you catch a rare, stormy sunset from bed.

 Across the harbor, storm watching on the south beach of Grays Harbor is a little different. Gone are the bluffs, replaced with rolling sand dunes, a lighthouse and even more fun and quirky spots to stay and explore. At the westernmost point of the fishing town of Westport, you’ll find the Port of Grays Harbor Observation Tower standing tall. Overlooking the jetty that protects the marina, the viewing tower gets you out in the elements while overlooking the entire region. If the weather clears, you’ll also have views of the Olympic Mountains from here. Next to Westport, Westport Light State Park gives you beach access and a chance to see Washington’s tallest lighthouse, built in 1898. A stay at the Harbor Resort or the Westport Inn will give you the best of Westport and the easiest access to these destinations, as well as the town’s breweries and restaurants.

Grays Harbor storm watching
Watching the waves and experiencing the wind of a storm in Grays Harbor is a rite of passage for Washington residents and visitors alike. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

South of town, you’ll find Grayland Beach State Park. At the park, the winds will batter your car, rocking it back and forth. If you want to get out, the park has roughly 8,000 feet of coast to explore. If, after experiencing the rain and wind in town, at the lighthouse and at Grayland Beach State Park, you decide you’d like to warm up in a cozy room, check out the Ocean Spray Beach Resort. They offer quaint New England-style cottages with electric fireplaces, and it’s just a three-minute walk from the breaking waves. Before you call it a day, pick up wine and food from Cranberry Road Winery in Grayland, or from the Westport Winery on the drive out to Westport from Aberdeen. Both spots are local favorites, sure to bring warmth to a chilly night.

If you do find yourself heading to the coast for storm watching and decide to turn your day trip into a multi-day getaway, numerous beachside Airbnb options for any size of party are available on both sides of the harbor. From Moclips all the way down to Tokeland, you’ll have your choice of house, room or cabin to spend the stormy days and nights. Just remember to stop by the local restaurants and stores to safely support the local economy.

As a final reminder before you head to the coast for a storm, be safe. When possible, park at a designated parking area near the dunes or on a bluff. Once you do find a place to park, please remember to be extremely cautious if you get out of your car. During storms, avoid standing or walking along driftwood and stay out of the water at all times. Sneaker waves can also be common, easily sweeping you off your feet and pulling you into the extremely cold and turbulent waters. Waves during storms have the potential to toss logs and large pieces of wood easily, so maintain as much distance from the water as possible. Don’t worry though! Grays Harbor has numerous scenic overlooks and parking areas that allow you to watch the churning seas from a safe distance.

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