Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway 112 Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2000)
- Intrinsic QualitiesNatural
- Length61 miles
An outlet to the Pacific Ocean, the strait stays in view along the entire byway as it hugs the coastline almost to the most northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. It is a birders and fishermen’s haven, dotted with plenty of spots to enjoy local wildlife, including the ominously named Shipwreck Point.
Story of the Byway
The northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula has a rich history. Since the last thick sheet of glacial ice pulled back from the land, people have survived and ultimately thrived on this strip of land between the mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The byway spans the ancient traditional land and current homes of the Klallam and Makah peoples, and connects Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean.
Its name comes from the navigator who is believed to be part of the first European expedition to sail from the Pacific Ocean in 1592. In 1846, England and the United States sign a treaty locking the northern boundary at 49 degrees latitude. This treaty still divides the Canadian/U.S. border east to west down the center of the narrow strait. Small communities begin to develop west of Port Angeles; Port Crescent, Gettysburg, Twin, Pysht and Clallam Bay.
Early fishing tourism began with a wagon road built to connect Port Crescent to Lake Crescent “resorts.” In 1911, Joe Joyce built a home, shingle mill and general store, which bears his name and is still in operation. Milwaukee Railroad laid tracks, beginning in 1914, which ran out of Port Angeles parallel to the strait primarily to haul timber. The tracks are removed in 1952 after roads are built. It became a state scenic highway in 1967 and a national scenic byway in 2000. Two stretches of the Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway have been designated as Veteran Memorial Highways. Directly after exiting US-101 west of Port Angeles, SR-112 has been designated the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Highway. It meets the Korean Veterans’ Blue Star Memorial Highway when it intersects with SR-113 just southeast of Clallam Bay.
The trip officially begins a few miles west of Port Angeles, 85 miles from Seattle traveling on US-101 west, and includes a half-hour ferry ride from either the Seattle-to-Bainbridge or Edmonds-to-Kingston terminal. Once on SR-112, head toward Joyce less than 16 miles away.
Points of Interest
Elwha River Interpretive Center
Located inside of Olympic National Park at 66 Lower Dam Rd, Port Angeles, WA. This center shares the history of the river and the process of the largest dam removal in U.S. history.
Shipwreck Point Natural Resources Conservation Area
Features tideland beaches, approximately 50 acres of old growth Sitka spruce and western hemlock, views of Vancouver Island
Makah Cultural and Research Museum
Home to tribal artifacts hundreds of years old, photographs, educational materials and more; may be temporarily closed due to COVID-19, call to check
Salt Creek Recreation Area
Rocky tide pools; the remnants of WW II-era Fort Hayden; panoramic views of the strait; good for camping, kayaking and scuba diving
Depot Museum and Grocery in Joyce
Olympic Discovery Trail
Lyre River Conservation Area
Sail and Seal Rocks
History and Culture on the Strait of Juan De Fuca Highway
Start at the Elwha River Interpretive Center just west of Port Angeles. This self-guided center presents an overview of the largest dam removal and restoration project in the United States occurring on the nearby Elwha River. Nature trails lead from the parking lot to views of the Elwha River gorge and the former Elwha Dam site.
Head west toward Joyce on Washington Route 112. Discover Camp Hayden, which served a coastal artillery camp during WWII. Explore the Joyce Depot Museum, which features the histories of early settlers, logging, and the railroad. Be sure to stop in at the Joyce General Store, the longest continually operating general store in Washington state. The oiled floors, beaded ceiling, many of the fixtures and much more are originally from the Markham House Hotel at Port Crescent.
Follow the byway west to Clallam Bay. Slip Point was the home of the Slip Point Lighthouse and is across Clallam Bay from the village of Sekiu. First lit in 1905, it filled a gap for navigators between the Cape Flattery and Ediz Hook lights. In 1951, the light was discontinued and dismantled, and the keeper’s house is now in the care of the US Coast Guard. Access to view the site is along the designated trail to the beach. Nearby is the Sekiu Community Center, which was used as a school from 1916 to 1946.
Make a quick detour to Ozette. Lake Ozette lies at the end of the Hoko Road. Besides being the largest unaltered lake in Washington State, it is where the Cape Alava and Sand Point Trails begin. These trails connect by a 3.1 mile beach hike along the ocean where a rich history and culture of the Ozette people is commemorated.
Though the byway ends as you enter the Makah Reservation. There are still many historical and cultural sites to see such as the Makah Cultural and Research Center, Fort Nùñez Goana, and Tatoosh Island.
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