It's time to hike to wild Shi Shi Beach, perhaps the most dramatic beach in Washington State, located west of Neah Bay, Wash., on SR 112, which has been designated as one of America's Scenic Byways. It's a day trip you'll always remember. Like a scene out of The Land Time Forgot, Shi Shi Beach has remained untainted by large crowds, and untamed by humans. One reason for that unspoiled beauty is that it is only reached by a drive 66 miles from Port Angeles, Wash., through Clallam Bay-Sekui and on through Neah Bay, followed by a 3.3-mile hike. But the trip is well worth the time, and the scenic beauty on the way may lure you into forgetting you have a specific destination in mind.
Named "best nature beach" by the Travel Channel, the beach became part of the National Park in 1976. The Makah Tribe, whose reservation borders the Shi Shi to the Ozette River Beaches, is rebuilding the Shi Shi Beach Trail for easier access, but the stunning seastacks, caves and arches, as well as the fascinating miniature life in numerous tidepools, makes it well worth the effort. Located on the south end of Shi Shi Beach, Point of Arches is probably the most stunning set of sea stacks you'll ever see, with it's bold arches, intriguing tunnels and amazing tide pools. Oh yeah, it's time.
Camping information. Shi Shi Beach is a popular camping area, however, permits must be obtained from the Park Service at the Olympic Wilderness Information Center (WIC) in Port Angeles. You can get permits by phone or in person. Hard-sided food canisters are required as much for the raccoons as for the bears. Build campfires on the beach only and use driftwood only to protect tree roots. And of course, plan your hike, leave no trace, know the tides and bring a map.
Entrance to the area and some parking areas require a Makah Recreation Pass, available in Neah Bay at the Makah Tribal Council, Warm House Cafe, Makah Marine, Big Salmon Fishing Resort, Washburn's General Store, Raven's Corner or the Makah Mini Mart. Permits cost $10 per car and they are valid for the calendar year during which they are purchased. If you're planning a visit to Neah Bay, camping is permitted only in designated camping areas. Call the numbers listed below for rates and availability.
How to get there. From Port Angeles, drive five miles west on US Hwy 101 to SR 112. Turn right onto 112 and drive 63 miles to Neah Bay. While in Neah Bay, you may want to visit the Makah Cultural and Research Center, recognized as one of the best tribal museums. The Museum is open seven days a week. Call for hours and information.
At the west end of Neah Bay, turn left on Cape Flattery Road and drive three miles to Hobuck Beach Road. Turn left and continue to drive (the road becomes Sooes Beach Road) to the trailhead (which is clearly marked on the right.) The parking area is for day use only. Overnight parking is only allowed in designated private parking lots; watch for signs.
Clallam Bay-Sekiu Chamber of Commerce 360-963-2339
Makah Cultural Center 360-645-2711
Neah Bay Area Camping: Hobuck Beach Resort 360-645-2339 (Cabins, Tent Area & RV's)
The Cape Motel & RV Park 360-645-2250