Cape Flattery stretches into the Pacific Ocean from the Makah Reservation in the northwest corner of the contiguous 48 states. The indigenous people call it “The Beginning of the World.” The geographic distinction alone sold us on a visit. But we found lots to do at this remote outpost on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula:
- A rustic 1.5 mile boardwalk through a rain forest to the cape.
- A stunning museum with an extensive collection of Makah artifacts from the nearby Ozette Archeological Site.
- A yummy dining scene.
The 70-mile drive on State Route 12 from Port Los Angeles along the Strait of Juan de Fuca is slow and sometimes winding. The natural, cultural and culinary points of interest made it well worth the effort.
The ancestors of the coastal Makah tribe settled in what became the state of Washington some 3,800 years ago. In 1970, A winter storm unearthed six long house and thousands of centuries-old cultural artifacts preserved in mud at Ozette.
The artifacts corroborate Makah oral history about a “great slide” that buried the Ozette settlement roughly 500 years ago. They also provide a cultural snapshot of the coastal natives before European explorers and settlers arrived.
The Museum at the Makah Cultural and Research Center expertly knits together artifacts, photographs and traditional story-telling to interpret the cultural history of the tribe. The presentation is magnificent.
Artifacts include water-resistant clothing made of western red cedar, canoes carved from tree trunks to hunt seals and whales and baskets made of cedar roots. The museum also contains a full-sized replica of a cedar longhouse and many smaller items, including games, hunting implements and jewelry.
The trailhead at Cape Flattery is a 15-minute drive from Neah Bay. The trail winds through the forest on a cedar boardwalk and ends at an overlook with a view of the Cape Flattery Lighthouse atop Tatoosh Island. Alas, fog obscured the lighthouse the day we visited. But we did enjoy our walk in the woods and views of the craggy shoreline.
Lunch at Neah Bay
Small signs advertising fry bread tacos at Pat’s Place began appearing roadside just west of Clallum Bay. We were intrigued. As lunchtime neared and stomachs began to growl, we were all in to sample some native American cuisine. Alas, Pat’s Place was closed the day we visited.
Regrouping, we drove around Neah Bay to check out the remainder of the dining scene and selected Bigginz Burgers Seafood. Our Bigginz burger and fish and chips would have fed a family of four. We dined on the fresh and tasty fare al fresco at a picnic table on the museum grounds.
We spent much of August 2022 exploring the Pacific Northwest, including a week on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.