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Olympic Peninsula Cape Flattery Guided Tour

Hiker looking through a spotting scope on the final Cape Flattery trail platform looking towards Tatoosh Island

Travel to the End of the Olympic Peninsula to Cape Flattery with Experience Olympic

Neah Bay, Cape Flattery, and Hobuck Beach are exceptional for birding and sightseeing year-round, with hiking and tidepooling as a bonus activities. 

Neah Bay is home to the Makah people and it is great to support the tribe by purchasing a recreational permit, staying at their accommodations, eating in their restaurants, and learning more about their culture at the Makah Museum. 

Visit Cape Flattery with a guide in order to find a diversity of wildlife with the help of a spotting scope.

Cape Flattery is as wild as the wildlife

The focus of Neah Bay’s Cape Flattery wildlife tour emphasizes marine wildlife and Olympic Peninsula birds. The relatively common occurrence of Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Tufted Puffins, and Common Murres make Neah Bay’s Cape Flattery a popular destination. The importance of a wildlife guide, spotting scope, and binoculars can not be overemphasized. 

The Cape Flattery coastline demonstrates the power of tides and storms through sea caves, sea stacks, and rocky islets. The coastal forest and seascape alone are worth the visit.

Closeup of an adult Sea Otter swimming swimming on his back with his flippers and paws out of the water
Fluke (tail) of a Gray Whale taken from the final overlook at Cape Flattery

Neah Bay’s Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery is roughly the same driving time (2 hours one-way) from Port Angeles as the Hoh Rainforest and you have the option of driving past Lake Crescent on 101 to 113 or taking 112 to 113.

Cape Flattery is considered the northwestern-most point of the continental United States, is not in Olympic National Park, and is located on the Makah Reservation.

After a short walk on the Cape Flattery trail, enjoy views of Tatoosh Island, sea stacks, sea caves, and a cacophony of currents and wave action. The Gray Whale fluke (tail) photographed was taken on a birding tour to Cape Flattery,

Northwestern-most point in the continental U.S.

The amazing biodiversity found in Neah Bay can be partly attributed to an outstanding position between the Washington Coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Salish Sea).  

The Cape Flattery trail leads you on a short walk through coastal forest thick with gnarly Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, and Western Red Cedar, banana slugs, and multi-colored fungi, eventually leading to multiple viewing platforms that overlook a dynamic rocky shoreline and Tatoosh Island.  

There are quite a few wildlife viewing spots in and around Neah Bay in addition to Cape Flattery. 

A young tour participant "kisses" a large yellow Banana Slug
Two participants looking for wildlife from one of the platforms on the Cape Flattery trail that is maintained by the Makah people

Best drive outside of the park

Once you leave Clallam Bay, the drive to Neah Bay on highway 112 is arguably the best stretch of road for stunning views of Washington’s rocky shoreline, including headlands and rocky outcroppings.  The road hugs the Strait of Juan de Fuca and many pullouts lead you down to the both rocky and sandy shorelines.  

Bald Eagles will use every appropriately large tree adjacent to the water for nesting in the spring.  Pastures provide good spots for potential Roosevelt Elk viewing.  This drive should never be rushed as Gray Whales can literally swim right past you. 

Neah Bay is a precious gem

The Makah have made Neah Bay their home since time immemorial. Our tours to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery concentrate on wildlife and leaves the cultural aspects of this special place to be interpreted by the Makah people.  

Ideally, you will plan to visit the Makah Museum either during your Cape Flattery tour or at some point during your Olympic Peninsula visit.  Neah Bay does not have fee stations like in Olympic National Park but there is a Makah recreation pass that allows visitors to support Neah Bay's natural attractions like Cape Flattery.

Pair of adult Bald Eagles, the female is roughly a third larger than the male and appears to be on the left on the conifer branch
Close up of a California Sea Lion's head out of the water as it swims

California and Steller Sea Lions

Unlike seals, which are common throughout the Salish Sea, Sea Lions are more common on the Pacific Ocean. Unlike Seals, Sea Lions can "sit up" and turn their hind flippers forward for walking. 

Near Tatoosh Island, there are some protected rocks that almost always have Steller Sea Lions resting or swimming nearby. Steller are larger than California and less common. The fur coats of Steller tend to be overall lighter in color than California. The Sea Lion pictured is a California. 

Tufted Puffin's Nest on Tatoosh Island off Cape Flattery

The last platform from the Cape Flattery trail is where we will spend most of our time. This final platform looks out to Tatoosh Island, where Tufted Puffin, Common Murres, and other birds nest over the summer. 

The group of seabirds that includes Puffins are called alcids and I call them, "penguins of the north". Puffins can actually fly, albeit with some effort. Sometimes we get lucky and can see them naked eye but usually we need optics. 

Join us for a week-long small group birding tour in July centered around viewing species like Tufted Puffin.

Tufted Puffin with its black body, white face, large orange bill, and yellow feathers on the head swimming in the water off Cape Flattery
 A shore crab is shown facing the camer in the sand

Easy to Access Tidepools Near Neah Bay

If the moon and stars align, then we can also go tidepooling in Neah Bay. The rocky shore is quite limited but still worthwhile. The tidepools here are often like moats around rocks and formed by the sand. 

In the tidepools, there are shrimp, crabs, fish, and more. The rocks often have barnacles, mussels, anemones, and even a sea star if we are lucky. If you are interested in scheduling a tidepooling tour, you will want to read more about this specific experience.  

Two tour participants look through a spotting scope at birds in the Pacific Ocean with mountains in the background
Close up of a Giant Green Anemone
Two hikers stand on a tiered platform overlooking sea caves at Cape Flattery which is the Northwestern-most corner of the contiguous United States and part of the Makah Nation
The head and back of a Gray Whale is pictured surfacing and spouting (blowing water up in a spray) as seen from Cape Flattery
Harlequin Duck female is brown with white markings on the face shown swimming
A double Crested Cormorant stands on a piling showing yellow around the beak
Black Oystercatchers standing on a rocky shorew shown as brown and black shorebirds with long bright orange bills and an orange border around the eye
Closeup of a red male crossbill whose bill tip overlaps at the end
A young girl with a colorful hat is shown looking through a spotting scope out into the Pacific Ocean
Amanita muscaria is an iconic red mushroom with white poka dots on the cap and a ring on the stalk
A young button Amanita muscaria is shown with a brilliant red cap
Just the cap if shown of an Amanita muscaria with fairly evenly spaced white poka dots on the red and orange cap
a mature Amanita muscaria mushroom is shown with white markings on the red cap
Two Common Murres are shown swimming together in non-breeding plumage
A Tufted Puffin is pictured swimming showing white clown-like face and bright orange bill
A Pigeon Guillemot is shown in breeding plumage as an all black bird with contrasting white wings