Posted on May 1, 2013
Driving on the beaches of the Peninsula is a tradition dating back to the early days of the automobile. For years, beachgoers have enjoyed a leisurely drive on the wide, hard-packed sands. Not all the places to visit are on well-paved roads. Here, you can drive your vehicle along many miles of accessible beach as you search for that perfect fishing spot or explore our pristine beaches. All this can be enjoyed, but there are a few regulations that must be followed.
The Peninsula shoreline is a Washington State Highway. All drivers and vehicles must be licensed and insured just as on any other State Highway (Sorry, no ATVs). The speed limit is 25 mph, with extra caution to be taken for other vehicles, pedestrians, sunbathers, and beach debris. The beach is patrolled frequently and all laws are strictly enforced. Reckless or careless driving is not tolerated and can result in expensive tickets and even license suspension, so please, play it safe! Parking is allowed.
The beach is always open and free to pedestrians, equestrians and bicyclists. Sections of the beach are open to automobiles year round while others are closed April 15 through the day after Labor Day (some closed sections are open during recreational razor clam season). The beach closures protect the delicate nesting grounds of migratory birds as well as give families a place to play on the beach without concern for vehicle traffic.
Please use the map on this page to learn where vehicles are allowed during your visit, and note the signage on the beach as well. Enter and leave the beach only at designated, open beach approach roads, never between or on the dunes. Not only are the fines stiff for driving where your vehicle is prohibited, but also, if your vehicle gets stuck, tow companies may refuse to pull you out, a very sad way to end your vacation!
Tips for Beach Driving
- When pulling onto the approach road you should decrease the air pressure in your tires to 20-25 pounds. When you lower the air pressure it gives the tire a wider, softer footprint enabling the vehicle to ride higher on top of the sand instead of digging down into it. This also helps to reduce the amount of strain on the engine since you’re rolling on top of the sand and not plowing through it.
- When driving through the softer sand between the approach road and the hard packed beach, do not stop. Drive at a slow, even pace. The maximum speed limit is 25 MPH. Accelerating too quickly will cause loss of traction and bury you to the axle. If this happens, it’s time to break out the jack and shovel.
- Try to stay in the ruts made by other vehicles unless they are so deep you bottom out. The sand in these ruts is more compacted than other sand.
- Stay on the hard pack and out of the “sugar sand”. This soft sand is the Peninsula’s version of quick sand, and driving in it is a fair guarantee you will bury your car to the axel.
- If you do get stuck beyond your ability to pull yourself out, expect tow fees to be at least $100.
- Stay out of the clam beds (the softer sand close to the water line). This preserves our clams and ensures more recreational dig dates available each year. (It also keeps you from getting a ticket!)
- Watch the tides! Don’t get trapped on the wrong side of areas of the beach that are impassable at high tide.
- If you can do so without going into the sugar sand, park above the high tide line.
- In the event that you do lose traction, DO NOT spin your wheels to try to dig out of it. It only takes a couple of pumps on the gas to sink you down to your axle. The best solution is to decrease your tire pressure, shift to low range and back out of the rut you came in on before trying to proceed.
- Always watch for pedestrians, animals and sunbathers. And remember, beach debris cannot be trusted to stay put. Sneaker waves can lift perfectly stable looking logs and move them quite a distance in just a few moments.
- Give the underside of your vehicle a good freshwater rinse when you come off the beach to remove corrosive sand and salt.