With the arrival of the summer solstice, we had a lovely, warm day here in the Puget Sound area and I, for one, was not about to let it go to waste. I’ve been antsy to get up into the mountains, but there’s still several feet of snow and ice at Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park; so no hiking there! Ah! But what about the coastline? That’s an idea! The best days to head for the coast are when the sun is out everywhere and temperatures are warm. But, even that can fool one, as temperatures are pretty cool along the coast compared to inland, and, many times, clouds and fog are hugging the shorelines even on the best of days.
This day, I decided to travel the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway, Rte 112. This is a two lane highway that starts just south of the city of Port Angeles, WA via the main Hwy 101. It’s a long drive. My destination for this one day expedition from the South Puget Sound area was to the town of Neah Bay, located on the Makah Tribal Reservation. It’s 60 miles from the start of the byway to the town. The tribe has a large, cultural museum just off the highway before entering town. Fuel availability is not a problem, as there are gas stations in some of the small communities located along the highway. But, driver beware; this road is challenging in that it has lots of curves, along with lots of up and down gradients through coastal forest. One cannot see the water for a good part of the way, even though it would seem to appear that way on a road map. And when the clear spots do happen, you have to pay close attention to the road that is constantly twisting and turning ahead of you.
Along the highway, there is an interpretive, observation point overlooking the small, historic fishing community of Sekiu. Be sure to stop there to get a photo of Rosie, the fish statue, and the community and marina below.
As previously mentioned, there is the Makah Museum in Neah Bay. This is a fine cultural museum that features many archaelological artifacts discovered at a centuries old coastal village of Ozette. See a complete whale skeleton, large, wooden canoe boats, a full scale long house, dioramas, and many items found at the Ozette dig site. As well, the museum has a fine gift shop.
If you love the wild, coastal adventure, continue through the town of Neah Bay to the far west coast of the peninsula and drive several miles on a gravel road north to Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point in the US. It is here that one can view some of the most spectacular seascapes of the entire Washington coastline.