From the stunning coast of California’s Big Sur to the waters of Arizona’s Lake Havasu, the Western U.S. boasts inviting beaches. However, finding one that offers ample space and a semblance of solitude can get tricky. Thankfully, quiet beaches can be found—if you know where to look. Here are 10 crowd-free spots to sink your toes into the sand.
Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site in Neskowin, Oregon
Located at the edge of the seaside village of Neskowin, Neskowin Beach has a secret: a haunting ghost forest, made up of the fossilized remains of 2,000-year-old Sitka spruce tree trunks, that reveals itself at low tide. Another treasure is the beach’s Proposal Rock, a large sea stack topped with Sitka spruce trees that’s also accessible when the waters retreat. Look for bald eagles perched in the tree-tops and sand dollars as you wander the beach.
Pinnacle Gulch Beach in Bodega Bay, California
Beaches are plentiful along Northern California’s Sonoma Coast, though the bulk of them tend to fill up quickly on warmer days. Not so with Pinnacle Gulch. Located at the bottom of the half-mile-long Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail, south of Highway 1 and Bodega Harbor, this steep, quarter-mile stretch is relatively deserted, save for its many migrating and resident shorebirds. Low tide is the best time to visit—the large rocks dotting the beach will be in full view and tide pools appear along the beach’s south end. Keep an eye out for vibrant hanging sea anemones and sea stars, which are making a comeback after a mysterious disease caused them near-extinction in 2013. The beach itself offers excellent views of Bodega Head, the rocky promontory protecting Bodega Harbor, in the distance.