A Lively CommunityAs many as 130 homestead families called Lake Ozette home in the early 1890s. Schools, a post office, stores and a church sustained the farming community. Life was hard on this remote tip of the country.
When the area was included in the Olympic Forest Reserve in 1897, most early settlers left. A second wave of settlers arrived after the turn of the century. Vestiges of their homesites remain. On the Cape Alava Trail, hikers cross the prairie where Lars Ahlstrom pastured his livestock.
In 1940 a strip of coast and the Ozette area were included in Olympic National Park. Even as forest gradually reclaims once cleared land, stories of early human residents linger.
Ozette InformationFacilities: Ozette Ranger Station (not typically staffed), picnic area. Year round entrance fee.
Camping: Open year round, but may be primitive with no water and pit toilet only in winter. 15 sites, accessible restroom nearby. No RV hookups.
Backpacking: A permit is required for overnight backpacking along the Ozette Coast. The park's Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles has more information about permits and reservations; also, check online HERE. Animal-resistant food containers are required for storing food and are available in Port Angeles. Raccoons can get into other types of containers! Fires are not permitted between Wedding Rocks and Yellow Banks, including Sandpoint.
Supplies: A small store just outside the park boundary has additional camping and basic supplies.
Regulations: Pets are not permitted on park trails or backcountry areas, including boat-in lake camping. They must be on a leash at all times while in the park. Feeding wildlife is prohibited, for the health of the animals and for your safety
Trails at OzetteTrails begin behind the Ozette Ranger Station. Check a tide table to best time your beach hiking.
Cape Alava: 3.1 miles of trail, boardwalk and stairs through prairie and coastal forest to rocky beach.
Sandpoint: 2.8 miles one way on mostly boardwalk through coastal forest to a wide sandy beach.
Ozette Loop: Connect Cape Alava and Sandpoint trails by a 3.1 mile hike on sand and rock beach for a 9 mile loop. Elevation change less than 40 feet.
Safety Alert! The boardwalks are very slippery when wet or frosty. Soft soled shoes like tennis shoes or lightweight walkers grip the boardwalk better than stiff hiking boots with hard lug soles. Take your time and walk carefully.
A Culture UnearthedA storm and serendipity unveiled one of the richest archeological sites in North America. In the mid 1960s archeologists from Washington State University began excavating 12-foot thick deposits on the sheltered side of Cape Alava. Bone, shell and stone artifacts told of a sea mammal hunting culture dating back at least 2000 years. In 1970 a storm surge battered the upper beach and began to erode the bank. Hidden in the clay banks was the story of Ozette life, told by thousands of perfectly preserved artifacts.
Teams of archeologists and students excavated 300-year old longhouses which had been buried by massive mudslides. Three of five longhouses were fully unearthed and over 50,000 artifacts recovered, many not represented in museum collections. They revealed the details of everyday life in a stable, highly organized hunting and gathering society.
The discovery of many whale and seal hunting artifacts illuminated the villagers' dependence on the sea. The village lay close to migratory routes of whales, fur seals, and other sea mammals. Offshore reefs and islands offered protection from the pounding surf, and provided easy passage for canoes.
The site has been filled and revegetated, but a tribal plaque is displayed on a small replica longhouse. You can see many of the artifacts and learn about the culture at the Makah Museum in Neah Bay.
Eagles and elders soar in
clouds looking through crim-
The village. A house. A
home. Remembered in minds
and mud. And furseals.
Offering themselves to
Makah brothers who come
David Stuart, 1981
Last updated: July 13, 2021