5 June 2012

Flattery Rocks – Island Wilderness in Washington

One of the most stunning but least known stretches of American coastline, Flattery Rocks in Washington, north-western most of the United States, is nothing short of a revelation. Many of the rocks here are stony outcroppings uncovered when the tide is low. Others, however are lofty pinnacles scattered with salal shrubs, salmonberry and conifers.

On the south side of Cape Flattery you can find these remarkable sea stacks.  A stack is formed through geomorphology – erosion which is totally natural. The inexorable force of water and wind slowly but surely created cracks in the headland.  These cracks enlarged and forced a collapse, leaving the stacks isolated and standing alone.

This combination of rock and plant life gives the area its unique look – some have remarked that it is reminiscent of parts of inland China.

Yet, China this is not. The area offers a landscape unique not only to Washington but among the most stunning in the whole of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

The area consists of almost 900 islands and rocks, stretching for over a hundred miles along the state’s coast and it makes up part of the Olympia National Park.  People are forbidden from exploring these small islands, most of which are designated as wilderness – and little wonder.  The area is a critical haven for 14 species of seabirds which number over a million at peak times. This is not to mention mammals such as harbor seals and sea otters plus many a passing whale.

Wildlife simply abounds along this coastline, from Cape Flattery down to Cape Alava – hundreds of thousands of birds nest here each year including puffins, petrels, cormorants and gulls.  In the winter, eagles and falcons nest and roost here. To protect them people must stay at least two hundred yards away from the protected islands, which form part of the Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Center.

One of the few buildings you will find on Cape Flattery is the lighthouse on Tatoosh Island.  This marks the most northwest point in the contiguous US.

It is also (by our reckoning) one of the safest places to be come the zombie apocalypse, as long as you have plenty of rations - and a boat.

Yet wait - there's more. From cape to cape (as it were), the area is positively crowded with sea stacks and more can be seen at nearby Cape Alava. Tskawahyah Island stands out particularly, with Bodelteh behind it.

Kuriositas would like to thank Patrick Morris Photography for his kind permission to use his picture (2nd from top).