Land’s End in the Northwest

Neah Bay via Lake Sylvia

We planned to spend several days on the Olympic Peninsula, specifically the Olympic National Park as so many people had told us how much they enjoyed it. We scheduled a break after we crossed the extremely long bridge over the Columbia River Estuary at Astoria into Washington State. On this stop-over, we found Lake Sylvia State Park at Montesano, East of Aberdeen, where we spent a pleasant afternoon by the lake and on a loop trail around it. The next morning, on the way north, we met a National Park Ranger who insisted that we travel all the way to Cape Flattery and hike the trail out to the most north-westerly point of the Continental US. The ranger was so insistent in helping us plan this part of the trip; she had also recommended the Makah Indian Museum at Neah Bay, not far from the Cape. It was well worth the drive. We parked ourselves at Neah Bay, a village with an extensive fishing fleet and visited the museum (where no photographs were allowed). It was very interesting and the exhibits displayed the life of the tribe through the seasons with some excellent reproductions of whaling canoes and a full size ‘Longhouse.’ The Longhouse was a central meeting place for the community and provided shelter in the winter and offered shade during the summer. The museum also documented the mudslide that destroyed the Makah village of Ozette in ~1560 and the archeological dig that took place starting in 1970 after tidal erosion revealed some of the structures. Many of the artifacts at the museum came from this site. Due to over-fishing, the fishing fleet was effectively ‘grounded’ for several days, so we didn’t see much activity in the harbor.

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Cape Flattery

The next morning we drove to Cape Flattery and hiked the steep trail down to the point overlooking Tatoosh Island (named after Chief Tatoosh of the Makah Tribe). This is a truly beautiful spot with several overlooks including one with a view of the lighthouse on the Island. The trail is well maintained by the Makah Nation, who provide loaner walking sticks for the climb down and up (see below). The weather was misty, cloud ceiling low, so we took our time and tried to take advantage of the few sunny intermissions. The lighthouse was built in 1854 marking the southerly end of the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca between the USA and Canada. It was decommissioned when a more modern solar-powered light structure was built in 2008 and the lighthouse is in the process of being turned over to the Makah Nation. British explorer Captain James Cook named Cape Flattery in 1778 when searching for a way from the Pacific to the Atlantic. However, he missed the Strait and ended up sailing up the west coast of Vancouver Island.

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  • Cape Flattery, WA

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    Cape Flattery, (Land's End) WA

  • 4 Comments on “Land’s End in the Northwest

    1. Good that the fishing fleet was grounded so that those wonderful boats could model for you! Very interesting part of your journey, to be at the north-westernmost end of the continental U.S. And breathtakingly beautiful. I hope you feel the steep hike to view Tatoosh island was worth the effort, because I certainly appreciate the effort! The images you managed to capture while the sun was out: just fantastic. And as always, the commentary allowed me to feel like I could join you there for a little bit! If Captain Cook had been able to write such an interesting blog, well…he would have called the place Cape Flattery! Question: are you planning to go over to Vancouver Island? If so, the gardens in Victoria are a must-see! I did some sea kayaking in the Johnson Straits many years ago, camped out on the islands, and saw lots of orcas.
      From Cheryl: I did think it was very special that our model boats were there for Colin to photograph. It did make a picturesque picture. The walk down to Cape flattery was easy. The walk up to the parking lot was crazy hard for me, but we just took our time and I actually had breath to complain at the end. But it was worth. Older ladies than me were with walking sticks and little rolly wheels on the pathway, so I have no excuse.

    2. OMG, so beautiful – how lucky to run into the ranger. I’m so glad you found a beautiful camp ground. Love you, M
      From Cheryl: I’m glad you thought the state of Washington and coastline were as beautiful as we thought. I can’t get over how gorgeous the city of Victoria is on Vancouver Island. So much to see and do.

    3. Lake Sylvia killed me. I’m researching it, as I haven’t seen anything that stunning serene in so long. Definitely speaks to me!
      From Cheryl: Just a tiny little lake, but as you said so serene. We were able to walk all the way around it, only a fourth of it in a jungle and harder going, three quarters of it beautiful pathways. Not a sound from anywhere but running water and birds. Glad it spoke to you.

    4. My family is from Washington State and Fred and I went to Cape Flattery on our first trip out west after our wedding. Many years ago, but the memories are still fresh, as it was so beautiful.
      From Cheryl: Yep, one of the most beautiful Land’s Ends we’ve visited. Glad you have such great memories of the place!

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