Wild & crazy Cape Flattery

Wild & crazy Cape Flattery

It would be easy to imagine yourself at the end of the world. The fog is so heavy it rains a stream of constant moisture on your face, the waves so wild they crash dangerously on the rocks below and the shoreline so untamed it makes you gasp just to stand on the edge. We’ve made it to the northwesternmost (yes, it’s a mouthful) corner of the lower 48 and we’re teetering five stories above the water on a lonely cape that juts into the space between the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Over the water, somewhere past the thick fog is Canada and to the West is nothing but roaring ocean for thousands of miles. The only thing that marks this point is the end of the trail and the lonely remains of a lighthouse just visible on the edge of Tatoosh Island across the way.

We made it!!

For some reason I’ve been drawn to this spot ever since we started planning our WA trip over 6 months ago. Cape Flattery and next-door town Neah Bay are part of a Makah Indian Reservation on the very northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a damp and wild place steeped in thousand year-old Makah history and punctuated by crazy Cape Flattery Lighthouse.

Cape Flattery Lighthouse

A peek at the lighthouse through the fog

We get peek of Cape Flattery Lighthouse through the grey

The latter was an obvious draw (being lighthouse nuts as we are) and had been on my lighthouse radar for a few years. Built on Tatoosh Island ~0.5 miles from shore, Cape Flattery Lighthouse is the western-most lighthouse in the lower 48 and was first lit 1857. Conditions on this remote posting were so damp, miserable and rotten that several keepers resigned and by 1873 the dwelling was declared “not fit to be occupied”. New dwellings were built and the light persisted, remaining manned until 1977 and finally extinguished in 2009 when it was handed back to the Makah.

You can’t actually visit her, but you catch a glimpse of the girl (and some Puffins), if you’re lucky, from the short 3/4 mile trail that leads to the end of Cape Flattery. We managed the trail on a foggy and grey, but relatively clear day mixed with about 40 other people (?!) who had the same idea. Despite the crowds and the slippery ground we were able to find a few quiet corners to soak in the views and absorb the desolation of the place.

Lighthouse -> check!!

NOTE/ Cape Flattery trail is entirely dog-friendly. It lies within the Makah Reservation and requires a $10 recreation pass which you can pick-up at the Neah Bay Museum. 

Neah Bay & Makah Taditions

Mmmmm....smoked salmon from Kimm's Place

Mmmmm….smoked salmon from Kimm’s Place

Next-door Neah Bay is the heart of Makah country and preserves not only the history of the tribe, but also the traditions of the sea. The Makah were skilled mariners who had both summer and permanent residents along the entire northern NW coast. The small Makah Museum in Neah Bay is an excellent little stop to soak in the history, followed by a trip to the bustling marina and (this is important, so pay attention now) a stop by “Kimm’s Place”, more formally known as Take Home Fish Co, to pick-up freshly smoked salmon.

The Makah word for salmon literally translates to “food”, so it’s no accident that you can find some of the finest creations of fish right here. Kimm’s place is nothing but a run-down (near collapsing) blue trailer located inconspicuously across from the mini-mart, but he is an artist when it comes to smoking fish. We snagged a slice of warm alder-smoked salmon right out of the oven that was simply swoon-worthy -> a delectable, melt-in-your-mouth treat soft as butter and sweet as candy. Oh my, oh my….you cannot miss this, folks! Thanks to blog reader Chris for this tip!

Salmon -> check!

NOTE/ The Makah Museum costs $5 to visit. It is open 10-5 PM daily.

Foggy Hobuck Beach

A glimpse of blue amidst the fog

A glimpse of color amidst the fog

Early morning clear

Early morning clear on the empty beach

Our sojourn at this little NW corner was completed by dry-camping on the field of Hobuck Beach Resort. For a reasonable $20/night you can camp with plenty of space and nothing but a short trail between you and the sand. Nothing fancy, but perfect for “the beast”. The beach was a beautifully-deserted crescent of sand with plenty of space to play with doggie and commune alone with nature. It was massive, gorgeous and practically empty.

The only hiccup was the fog.

It’s a well-known effect that the warmer it gets inland, the more frequently the fog gets sucked into the coast, and sticking as we are so far west we’re the very first recipients. Temps have been ferociously hot just a few hours inland, so naturally things been ferociously foggy here. What that means is pleasantly cool weather (60-degrees and fog versus 95-degrees and sun…..I’ll take that anyday!), but sadly no chance of sunset shots. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

Sunset -> next time.

NOTE/ Hobuck beach is within the Hobuck Beach Resort and is entirely off-leash dog friendly

From here we depart from the Pacific Coast and make our way along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to another stretch of water and (yes) another lighthouse (whoo hooo!). We plan to be in the shadow of the rain shadow, if that makes sense, so hopefully that means sunnier weather. Also I just happened to have booked at exactly the right time for a certain lavender festival. Coincidence? I think not! ‘Tis all part of the cunning grand plan MWAhahahahaha…See ya at the next spot!

Useful Links

  • Neah Bay -> Link to Neah Bay info HERE and Makah Museum HERE
  • Cape Flattery -> Link to hike HERE and Lighthouse history HERE

 

At little HDR magic on the edge of the world at Cape Flattery, WA

A little HDR magic on the edge of the world at Cape Flattery, WA

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You pay the same, we get a few dimes…

53 Responses to At The Untamed Edge – Cape Flattery, WA

  1. Thanks, we might have to stay at Hobuck Beach Resort, too. I hadn’t come up with a good stopping place yet between South Beach and Port Angeles. Would rather there not be fog, though!
    Gayle

    • libertatemamo says:

      I think you’d like it here. Nice, easy dispersed camping. The fog just depends on how hot it is inland. This AM we saw sun at our site for the first time in two days. Interestingly enough Neah Bay (the town itself) has been sunny everyday. It’s only a few miles away and easy to escape to if you need relief from the fog.

      Nina

  2. Ralph says:

    Nina,
    Love the photos. I’ve fished before at Neah Bay. Good for salmon(as you found out)lingcod and rockfish.
    I can’t imagine Nina Fussing enjoying the ocean, craggy rocks, wild beaches, fresh smoked salmon or some old lighthouse. You must be bored silly…….!!

  3. Nancy Bridges says:

    You are a fantastic artist at photography. You should frame and sell them!

  4. Caryl Kirk says:

    awwww….LAVENDAR….did you say….LAVENDAR!!! Another awesome post, Nina!! Pixes…OUTSTANDING!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, I definitely said lavender!! Few things get me more excited than lighthouses…and one of them is LAVENDER!! They’re even serving lavender margarita’s this week-end. Oh yeah!!

      Nina

  5. Don Biancone says:

    Hope you don’t mind if I use your HDR photo as my desktop background. It is a beautiful shot.

  6. Now there’s a corner of the Pacific Northwest we haven’t made it to yet. Oh, an North Cascades National Park…that’s still on our list too. Sometimes when you live in an area for 30+ years, you miss a few things. But we didn’t miss much, especially not waterfalls!

    Looks like you’re having an amazing time! Doggie too!

    • libertatemamo says:

      This spot was worth coming for, despite the fog. In fact, in many ways the fog added some mystery to the whole thing. It certainly gave the Cape that extra feel of eerie danger.

      Nina

  7. meowmomma says:

    Dang… No puffins? Did you feel the surf crashing in the caves underneath you? Well at least you got to put eyes on that lighthouse!

    And so now I know where you’re off to next! Enjoy!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I know…no Puffins!! Would you believe I’ve been trying to see Puffins in the wild for over 20 years now. First heard about them when I was travelling the Outer Hebrides (near Scotland) around 20 years ago. Never got to see them. Tried many times during my travels & it’s always been a miss. I’ve seen them in zoos, but never wild.

      And yes, we definitely felt those waves crashing. It was quite loud & wild out there.

      Nina

  8. You are certainly out there on the edge:) What a great time and a wonderful adventure!

    • libertatemamo says:

      It was as far as we could go. Don’t know what it is about getting to the northwesternmost point, but it seemed satisfying somehow.

      Nina

  9. DebbieM says:

    It was nice to see pictures of that area again. We stayed there several years back and were very lucky to have sunshine and a clear view of the island. A funny side note, very near there is a town called Pshit. The Pshit River runs through it. Our kids thought that was hysterical. We tried to find out info about the area, but could not. Maybe if you’re still in the area you can get more info about it?

    • libertatemamo says:

      I think it’s actually Pysht, but I can definitely see the humor. We drove right by it today. Too funny!

      Nina

  10. Pam says:

    Nina
    Thanks for the write-up about Neah Bay. Other than fishing, and boaters stopping overnight on their way up north to Canada. (we did this trip in years past-11 hrs Ilwaco to Neah Bay), there is not much to lure folks there. But your history and sightseeing blog is great for hopefully boosting business. They used to do ceremonial whaling in longboats but I think the gov’t put a stop to that. Love the beautiful photos you shared.

    • libertatemamo says:

      There are several good hikes in the area which sadly we didn’t get around to doing -> Shi Shi Beach gets great reviews (first portion is dog-friendly, but the rest is not) as do the hikes around Ozette Lakes (not dog friendly either). It’s definitely a quiet place. Good for fishing & hanging.

      Nina

  11. Peter says:

    Hi Guys…I think the highlight of our couple of trips out and up that way was the tennis shoed salmon running in, I think, Clallam bay. The last time there, standing on the bluff you describe at the point, I could just barely see the tips of my tennies. Have a great time!.. :o)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh yes, the famous tennis shoe salmon! We had a similar experience when we went to hike Cape Lookout in OR last year. In that case the fog was so thick that all we got to see was the Keen shoe halibut :)

      Nina

  12. Sherry says:

    Sounds PDP to me and your pictures are gorgeous especially that last one. Love the information about the Natives of the area. Definitely would on my NW list for a visit. I actually like the fog – for a day or two. Pretty mysterious. Tell me Oh Queen of Boondocking where do you take on water and dump tanks before and after this $20 field spot?

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well we actually needed neither (we had water from our last spot and didn’t need to dump after only a few days), but I believe the resort offers both those services for those that need them.

      Nina

  13. Rowanova says:

    Cape Flattery is the place I was trying to recall in a reply to another post you made recently. I’m glad you got to see the Museum too. It is a bit small, but a worthy stop.
    Keep up this pace of indulgence this summer and you may earn the status of Official Washingtonians. :) Lol!

    • libertatemamo says:

      The Museum was actually very interesting. They had a movie too which is where I learned about the whole salmon=food thing.

      Nina

  14. Upriverdavid says:

    You must be headed to Sequim….I have a 97yr old family friend living there..She’s still sharper than I am; she’s known me before I was born…
    David

    • libertatemamo says:

      You got it! That’s exactly where we are now. Amazing to hear about your 97yr family friend. I always love it when I hear about older folks who are doing well. I hope to age that way.

      Nina

  15. MikeD says:

    Nina,
    Your such a master of the words. What a great description of the area. I was reading to my wife and she flipped at your use of “…crescent of sand…”. Both of us loved your post. Thank your for sharing.
    Mike and Connie

    • libertatemamo says:

      Glad I could give ya a bit of poetry. The place always inspires the words for me, and the wilder the spot the more inspired I get (must be my wild side). Cheers for following along.

      Nina

  16. LuAnn says:

    And I thought the Oregon coast to be rugged. You two are certainly venturing out to the very fringes. Spectacular images Nina! I too love lavender and am looking forward to future posts. :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      This is one of the more rugged spots we’ve been to in a while. So glad we made it out to see it…and that the fog cleared enough for a view!

      Nina

  17. Jodee Gravel says:

    Two rugged and wild areas and one gets Disappointment while the other Flattery. Interesting :-). We love a foggy coast but I think Kimm’s could be the big draw here – sounds mouth-watering good!! Fabulous pics.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Paul and I both agreed that the smoked salmon from Kimm’s was one of the best we’ve ever tasted. Well worth the trip just for that!

      Nina

  18. Eva says:

    Greetings from another Dane! My husband (not Danish) and I thoroughly enjoy your posts and photos. Living on Vancouver Island we often travel to WA and OR. You’ll enjoy Sequim and do go up to Hurricane Ridge. A hike not to be missed – even if doggie has to stay home.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well Hej to you! We’ve been eying Vancouver Island across the way for a few days now. It’s tempting to go explore there. We’ll see if I can make Hurricane Ridge. I’m attempting the lighthouse hike today so that may do me in.

      Nina

      Nina

  19. Donna says:

    You posts keep me inspired, and moving forward, in our downsizing efforts and ultimate goal to travel full-time. Thank you for the exceptional photos every time! XO

    • libertatemamo says:

      Happy to have you along for the “ride” and sure hope your downsizing pays off soon. It’s a process (I know), but you’ll get there in the end.

      Nina

  20. Lenore says:

    Cape Flattery is on our “peak experiences” list. We loved the trail down to the overlook, and the view at the end is just breathtaking. You captured some great shots, as usual. http://crosscountrydancing.blogspot.com/2012/06/washington-state-sights.html
    You’re heading for another great place now. I wonder where you’ll be staying. Probably not Gilgal Oasis, where we stayed. Too tight for your tastes. Perhaps the John Wayne Marina? More like where your Beast likes to park. Nice eagles there too. Be sure to visit Port Townsend while you’re in the area. I think you’d love it.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’re actually staying at the Clallam County Park right on the edge of the Dungeness Spit. It’s a great choice. Only $22/night, great trail views and close to all the Sequim sights. No hookups though.

      Nina

  21. Gaelyn says:

    That is such a special place. Hope you toured the Makah museum.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yes, I went to the Museum. Really enjoyed it. Lots of interesting displays, a full size reproduction of a log house and a good movie. Lots to keep me interested.

      Nina

  22. Steve says:

    Nina,
    We are up at Heart O’ The Hills, loop C, sites 53 & 54. Swing by or give us a shout if you make it up this way.
    Steve

  23. Becky says:

    We have been following your blog for over a year now. It is fun to hear your reactions to our home, the Olympic Penninsula. I hope you have plans to stop at the Salt Creek Recreation area near Cresent Bay. The tide pools on the rocky beach there are by far the best Washington has to offer! It is also an interesting area to check out some of the WW2 history connected with our area. Our favorite town is Port Townsend. That is mostly because so the unique, artistic culture there. Enjoy our weather! It isn’t this pleasant very often! I suppose this green beauty does need plenty of liquid sunshine:)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Sadly we won’t make it to Salt Creek this time around, but we do plan to spend a week at Port Townsend. Looking forward to it.

      Nina

  24. Brenda says:

    You saw the lighthouse. Yay! Love the Hobuck Beach photo.
    Brenda

    • libertatemamo says:

      We were soooo happy. We were prepared to do the hike multiple times just to see the lighthouse, but we got her in the first round.

      Nina

  25. Amber says:

    Great post! I’m ready to go there now! The last photo was spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Kent says:

    Nina. we found that Smoked Salmon place yesterday. Bought two cuts fresh from the smoker. what a treat. Thanks for tip on this one. Flattery was all it was supposed to be. And we hit it on a quiet calm day too, as you did.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Sweeeet! We’re still talking about that salmon, weeks later. Possibly the best smoked salmon we’ve ever eaten. Glad you caught a calm day.

      Nina

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