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Destruction Island Viewpoint

The tour skirts the shoreline of the Pacific. A rhythmical sweep of water rolls up the broad beach, breaking into foaming crests and spuming into small, rocky inlets. A turnout affords a wide view of the Pacific.

To the north a succession of bold promontories reaches into the sea. Westward is Destruction Island, about four and a half miles offshore, grim and forbidding as a fortress.

In 1775, the Spanish explorer Bruno Heceta, having suffered the loss of a small boat’s crew in an Indian attack at Point Grenville to the south, named the island Isla de Dolores (Sp. “Island of Sorrows”). The Indian name for the island was hob-to-la-bish. In 1787 Captain Charles W. Barkley commanding the East Indian Company’s ship Imperial Eagle, had a similar experience at the Hoh River, which he named Destruction River. Later the name Destruction was transferred to the Island, and the river was given the name of the Native Americans who lived along it.

Destruction Island is the nesting ground of some 10,000 horn-billed auklets, small migratory cousins of the celebrated great auk. Not unlike the penguin, they wear dress clothes of formal black or brownish black with a “boiled front” of smoke gray, which extends down the flank. These birds, whose range is the entire Pacific coast, arrive during April and either use their old nest or dig into a hillside to make a new one. Their arrival is marked by a noisy shrieking. The beach, about 100 feet below the bluff, is easily reached by trail from this point.