Olympic National Park has many allures, but due to the close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, several lighthouses are accessible. Maritime history buffs will love to include some, or all, of the lighthouses into their Olympic National Park vacation. Many visitors to Olympic National Park travel in a loop to be able to see the many highlights of this big beautiful park. On this loop, remember to check out the lighthouses of the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park. Part One of this blog highlights the lighthouses along the Pacific coast and one that is just around the corner of Cape Flattery. These lighthouses would make sense to visit on the western portion of your Olympic National Park loop. Part Two of this lighthouse blog will showcase the inland lighthouses deep in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Grays Harbor Lighthouse courtesy of Wikipedia
South of Olympic National Park is the Grays Harbor Lighthouse. This old beacon was dedicated in 1898. It became necessary because of the logging industry using Grays Harbor, where approximately 50 ships foundered outside of the harbor. The Grays Harbor Lighthouse guards the mouth to Grays Harbor, which is an estuarine harbor where the Pacific Ocean meets the Chehalis, Humptulips, Elk, Johns and Hoquiam Rivers. For those Olympic National Park visitors that venture as far south as the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, they may as well bring their field glasses, as this is also a hot spot for birding enthusiasts. The Westport Maritime Museum offers weekend tours of the lighthouse in the off-season and during the summer, there are daily tours from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Destruction Island Lighthouse courtesy of Wikipedia
Heading north, the next notable lighthouse is the Destruction Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse is located three miles offshore from the amazing Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park. This location makes the Kalaloch Lodge a natural choice for lodging on your Olympic National Park lighthouse adventure. The Destruction Island Lighthouse construction began in 1888, although the name Destruction was coined eleven years prior due to an untimely run-in between the British and the Native Americans who occupied the land. The Destruction Island Lighthouse is best seen by boat, or from land, two miles south of Ruby Beach is the most ideal viewing location. And again, this is where the field glasses would come in handy.
Cape Flattery Lighthouse photo by ericncindy24 on Flickr
Vacations to Olympic National Park should include a trip to Cape Flattery, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is the northwestern-most point in the lower 48 states. It makes sense to have a lighthouse here to mark the passageway into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Captain James Cook passed by and did not see the strait and disclaimed its existence. Yet another seafaring adventurer named Captain John Meares was able to prove the existence of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Meares landed on an island off the cape and encountered a Makah chief called Tatooche who, along with a handful of other tribal members, was whaling there for the summer. This is how Tatoosh Island got it's name. The Cape Flattery Lighthouse was erected in 1854 on Tatoosh Island and thereafter assisted the seafaring captains traveling to the interior of the Olympic Peninsula. The Cape Flattery Lighthouse is an historic staple in the history of the Olympic Peninsula and a great feature of your Olympic National Park vacation.
Slip Point Lighthouse photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard
Farther into the Strait of Juan de Fuca lies Clallam Bay in which the eastern rim of the bay juts out into the strait. The placement of the Slip Point Lighthouse was a great help for travelers who follow the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It provided another safe beacon between Cape Flattery and the lighthouse to the east at Dungeness Spit. The Slip Point Lighthouse was completed in 1865 to bridge the 60 mile gap between the two other lights. Due to a landslide, the light is no longer there, but the light-keeper's quarters are still there as well as the evidence of a long walkway to the head of the point. Even without the light itself, this is still a fun and historic destination. This lighthouse is also very close to Olympic National Park.
A good Olympic National Park lodging choice for your next portion of the Olympic National Park lighthouse loop is the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles. From this awesome Olympic National Park hotel, you can see a spit called Ediz Hook, which also has a noteworthy lighthouse at the end. The Red Lion Hotel features ocean views looking out to the lighthouse and the busy Strait of Juan de Fuca. That lighthouse will be highlighted in Part Two of this Olympic National Park Lighthouses blog.