As the country's longest natural sand spit, the 5.5-mile Dungeness Spit is also among the longest in the world. This narrow finger of sand curves east from its origin in Dungeness Recreation Area to a point that sits over 2 miles from shore. On a clear day, incredible views abound from the spit, encompassing Mount Angeles to the west and stretching all the way to Mount Baker in the northeast.
Dungeness Spit is at the heart of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, which also includes portions of Dungeness Bay, the harbor, and Graveyard Spit, the wider formation that dangles south from Dungeness Spit. The 772-acre refuge is a home to or a stop for a tremendous variety of shore birds, raptors and waterfowl in addition to shellfish, seals and salmon. This is a premiere beach walk for those who are interested in observing wildlife in a protected coastal environment, so be sure to bring a camera and binoculars.
Note that the refuge restricts public access to the spit to a narrow band along the north beach. This band extends from the entrance near the recreation area to the lighthouse, but not to the tip of the spit. Also, Graveyard Spit and the portions of Dungeness Spit meeting Dungeness Bay are closed to public access year round.
Note: Dogs are not allowed on Dungeness Spit.
The spit is also home to the New Dungeness Lighthouse, which is located all the way out near the end of the spit. There never was an old version of this lighthouse; instead, it carries its name from Captain George Vancouver's 1792 encounter during which he named the entire spit New Dungeness after a reminiscent spit in the English Channel. First lit in 1857 and finally automated in the 1970s, this enduring structure is currently manned around the clock by volunteers from the New Dungeness Lighthouse Association, and tours are available daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those hearty souls willing to make the 5.5-mile one-way walk out to the point.
Want to stay at the lighthouse longer? The lighthouse has a unique volunteer program in which anyone can spend a week in the lighthouse keepers quarters and enjoy the wonder of this isolated retreat. Think of it as a vacation rental (you do have to pay) with a few modest responsibilities, chiefly greeting all visitors and hosting tours. Learn more and getting pricing details by visiting www.newdungenesslighthouse.com or by calling 360.683.6638. Note that volunteers have the option of being driven directly to the lighthouse.
In total, the Puget Sound is home to 19 U.S. lighthouses still standing, not all of which are currently in use. Lighthouses and light stations include (from north to south):