May 14, 2012

The Rugged Northwest Coast

We felt cheated with only being able to gaze at the Pacific Ocean yesterday, so this morning we drove to Rialto Beach, a rugged and isolated part of Olympic National Park.  Here we wandered among the giant drift logs and watched the surf roll in.  Our eyes were drawn to the impressive sea stacks that rise out of the water just offshore.  These formations are remnants of coastal cliffs that eroded away over the centuries.  We walked atop perfectly polished stones as we made our way down to the black sand beach.  It was a very wild place, and we encountered only a few other people while we were there.

Giant Drift Logs Line the Beach
The Drift Logs Come in all Shapes and Sizes
The Sea Stacks Are Just Offshore
Tim Looming Over the Pacific Ocean
Next up was the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway, which winds its way along the rugged coastline of northwestern Washington State.  The road is sandwiched between forests and the water and offers views of Vancouver Island in the distance.  In the town of Neah Bay, which is a part of the Makah Indian Reservation, we toured the Makah Museum.  The museum tells the fascinating story of the archeological discoveries at the Makah coastal village of Ozette.  In 1970 tidal erosion exposed a group of 500-year old houses which had been covered by a sudden and catastrophic mudslide that completely engulfed the village. The museum presents the cultural history of Ozette and displays many of the remarkable artifacts that had been perfectly preserved.  Baskets, wooden boxes and even blankets were just a few of the elements of daily life that have been preserved.

Strait of San Juan de Fuca with Vancouver Island in the Distance
Guardians of the Makah Museum
Visiting extreme geographic points can be a lot of fun.  We had made it to the southernmost point when we were in Key West, Florida, and felt almost obligated to visit Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point in the continental United States, since we were so close.  We therefore hiked to the lookout at Cape Flattery and were rewarded with stunning views of dramatic sea stacks, huge sea caves and a lighthouse on neighboring Tatoosh Island.  I love hikes with rewards, and this reward was one of the best.

Cape Flattery
The Northwestern Point in the Continental U.S.
Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island
A Wild and Rugged Spot
Sea Caves Line the Shore
We made our way back to Olympic National Park and drove to Lake Crescent, one of my favorite lakes in the country.  This morning we had decided to treat ourselves to a two-night stay at Lake Crescent Lodge, one of the few national park lodges where pets are allowed. Our plan is to completely relax here and not even touch the blog.  I promise I’ll catch up when we leave and share with you what I find so special about this place.


  1. Water and wind are incredible forces! Enjoy your stay at the Lodge. We'll hold you to your promise. :-) LV

    1. LV, We've encountered so many places on this trip that owe their current form to water and wind. Amazing! I hope you will enjoy the lodge as much as I. Sarah