The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge – home to the 5.5-mile-long Dungeness Spit – is a unique spot for a day trip, a hike, or a camping trip. While there are some other things to do beyond hiking the spit that stretches out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the real focus here is just that – hiking the awesome Dungeness Spit, whether you just stand at the start of it and admire the long stretch out into the water and watch the ocean waves, or whether you go the distance to get to the lighthouse at the very end. But hiking the spit isn’t the only thing to do here. Read on to learn more about what to do and what to see!
What to Know
- The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is located at 554 Voice of America Road, Sequim, WA 98382. There is a mailing address on Holgerson Road, but don’t use that one for your GPS.
- There is a $3 fee to enter the Refuge.
- The Dungeness Spit is 5.5 miles long one way.
- No dogs are allowed since it’s a wildlife refuge.
- The Refuge has picnic tables, trails, camping spots, and lots of space to hike.
What to Expect
There is a $3 fee to enter the Refuge, but if you just want to take a quick peek, you can park just before the pay station and take a short trail to the overlook. The views are beautiful from high up on cliffs overlooking the water. You can technically keep going on these trails out to the spit, but you’ll need to pay the admission fee.
The trail from the parking lot to the lookout is flat and appropriate for all ages and abilities. After the lookout, there’s a fairly steep decline (my three-year-old could handle it just fine, but it’s a steep hill) leading down to the start of the Dungeness Spit. If you have young kids, you might just spend some time exploring the sandy beach and watching the waves and call it a day. In fact, I would not even attempt to hike out to the lighthouse at the end of the spit with young kids. It’s 5.5 miles of no bathrooms or shelter from the elements. It takes some fortitude, endurance, a good sunhat, and a well-trained bladder. There is a bathroom at the end of the spit, as well as a lighthouse, and a small museum to explore, if you get there when they’re open.
Hiking the spit is unique just because it’s such a narrow stretch of land surrounded by water. It’s best to try and time your journey with low tide where there’s more land. At high tide, you’ll find a lot less sand to walk on and you’ll be climbing over a lot more driftwood and rocky beach, which might not sound like an issue, but you’ll probably change your mind after 11 miles of it. At low tide, you can walk on the sand, watch all kinds of shorebirds, and keep an eye out for other wildlife.
Note that you can only walk on the left side of the spit (heading out, the right side heading back). The other side is reserved for wildlife. Common animals spotted include harbor seals, elephant seals, or orcas swimming offshore.
Other Things to Do at the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge
There are several picnic tables near the parking lot, and the Refuge is a great place to kick back and enjoy a bite to eat.
There are about 50 camping spots located in the recreational area adjacent to the trail leading to the lookout.
The trails leading up to the lookout have interpretive signs so you can learn about the history of the park, land, animals, and people who have lived there over the years. The Refuge was established by Woodrow Wilson, and because it’s a Refuge, you can’t do a lot of things here you can do on other stretches of beach. Leave the dogs, kites, bikes, and other recreational equipment at home or in the car.
You can boat around the Dungeness Spit or kayak along the spit out toward the lighthouse. Boaters have to stay well offshore to protect wildlife and launches are not located at the Refuge. You can find launches at nearby Cline Spit and at Dungeness Landing. If you’re a boater, read here for more info.
From May to October, you can also go fishing or shellfishing on parts of the spit.
For more information, visit the Dungeness Spit website.