Pacific Northwest Hidden Treasure - The Dungeness Spit
Driving from the Seattle area toward the Olympic Peninsula is a magnificent journey. The views feature towering mountains, quiet bays, and ocean shores. The main east/west roads are hemmed in by the Olympic Mountains to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north. The Strait is very wide, taking 90 minutes to cross by ferry. Because of the Strait’s size, the shoreline seems more like open ocean than an inlet.
Just to the east of Port Angeles, a major gateway into Olympic National Park, the traveler comes across the Dungeness Spit. This is not your typical tourist attraction. The area is a national wildlife refuge and except for a small visitors building at the park entrance there are no services to speak of. The Spit juts five miles out into the Straight. The land is littered with driftwood and visited by many marine animals. Portions of the Spit are off limits to humans because they are sensitive breeding areas for sea birds.
The Spit is way off the beaten track, but its well worth the effort to visit. A short hike through some old woods brings one face to face with the Pacific Ocean. Stretching out to the northeast is the thin strip of land, five miles long and barely 100 yards wide. The wind howling off the ocean lowers the temperature considerably, even in summer. It is a place of natural beauty and solitude. There is little to do except watch the crashing surf, listen to the calls of the waterfowl, and pick your way across the vast expanse of washed up, bleached out wood. Even though you are only minutes from Port Angeles and the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, it feels like civilization is an ocean away.