Once a series of walking paths and wagon trails, the Strait of Juan de Fuca (aka Highway 112) still serves as a vital corridor for the little villages that dot northwest Washington’s coastline. While it may serve a tremendous practical purpose, for road trippers like us, this drive is just plain fun. If you’re looking for a stunning Seattle day trip, head west toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway meanders through a landscape formed eons ago beneath the sea, carved by glaciers and carpeted with forests. The culture and traditions of the North Olympic Peninsula reflect the rich history of its people and environment, and Highway 112 has played a key part in that story.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway first began in the 19th century as a series of trails through the forests, connecting logging and fishing communities. Transportation supporting the area’s economy was by water and by private timber company railroads. Travel along the dirt trails was primarily for community activities, such as baseball games, dancing, education and missionary endeavors. Over time the trails evolved from walking paths into a road for wagons, automobiles and school buses. Different segments had different names, such as the Clallam Road, the Pysht River Wagon Road, and the New Road. These segments were consolidated in 1928 as Clallam County Road 9A.
With so much natural beauty and rich history packed along one road, we thought you’d appreciate us giving you the must-sees along the route:
Salt Creek Recreation Area
If you’re planning on staying the night along Highway 112, you won’t find a better place for a base camp than the Salt Creek Recreation Area. Here you can set up your tent or park the RV and then kayak in the bay, hike to Striped Peak, and even explore what’s left of Fort Hayden’s WWII bunkers.
Joyce General Store
The Joyce General Store is the longest continually operating general store in the entire state of Washington. Over 100 years old, many of the bits and pieces of the store are from its earliest days as it provided much needed supplies for the timber and railroad industry. It still serves as the area’s post office. Maybe you can mail a postcard back to your friends and family…
Just east of the store you’ll find the Joyce Depot Museum. As the name suggests, it’s in the old train station and displays all sorts of historic items from the 1920s to 1940s. The museum is usually only open on Saturdays, but you may get lucky if you visit during the summer.
Not just for outstanding fishing and diving! Boat launches, moorage and a dive shop are available in Sekiu. At the Clallam Bay park, explore the rim of one of the most beautiful bays in the northwest. Then head to the east end of the bay to Slip Point to see tide pools. In Sekiu, hike the One Mile Beach trail at the west end of town and check out the beach and sea caves … seals sun on the rocks at low tide.
Not only is it the largest unaltered like in the state of Washington, it’s also your access point to the Cape Alava Trail which will take you to the incredible beaches of Olympic National Park. The whole hike is about 9 miles, but along the way you’ll see the petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks and have an opportunity to visit the Norwegian Memorial.
First and foremost, you’ll want to see the Makah Museum. Built to tell the story of the Makah Tribe, you’ll learn about what life was like before white settlers made contact with the tribe. You’ll also see rare artifacts from the village prior to a mudslide in 1750 that buried much of the village. After exploring the museum, spend another several hours taking in the beautiful sights of Neah Bay.
Of course, the little towns and villages along Highway 112 celebrate their unique history and scenery throughout the year. Before heading on the highway, check out Highway112.org for information on upcoming festivals and events.
Cover photo: Visit the Olympics