Cape Disappointment State Park lies along the Long Beach Peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River 140 miles south of Tacoma. This scenic area consists of two lighthouses scattered along the steep dramatic cliffs overlooking sandy beaches, woodlands, and grassy lawns.
Cape Disappointment was named for Captain John Meares’ failed journey to reach the Columbia River via the Pacific. Today this rich historical area features hiking trails, scenic picnic areas, a large campground, an historical coastal fort, and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
Guests enjoy hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, bird watching, camping, picnicking, and learning more about this interesting Washington state park.
Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or someone just looking for a relaxing escape you’ll thoroughly enjoy your time inside Cape Disappointment State Park. So pack your overnight bags and come experience all that this park has to offer. Explore the nature trails, view Disappointment Lighthouse, have a picnic lunch surrounded by breathtaking views, and then spend some time relaxing on the beach.
And don’t forget to save some time to check out the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. This center showcases their famous journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Cape Disappointment State Park:
Boating at Cape Disappointment State Park
Cape Disappointment State Park provides guests with boat access to the Columbia River via Baker Bay. This area features a boat ramp and a 135 foot dock.
Swimming at Cape Disappointment State Park
Waikiki Beach, the only safe beach area inside the park, is located near the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Here guests may swim, float, build sandcastles, sunbathe, and more.
Hiking at Cape Disappointment State Park
Explore 8 miles of trails that wind through old-growth forest, marshland, and around the lake inside Cape Disappointment State Park.
Here are a few of the trails at Cape Disappointment State Park:
- North Head Trail – This moderate 1.5 mile trail passes an old fort and the lighthouse as it winds through the coastal forest area. Bring a flashlight and take a look inside the fort’s bunkers.
- Cape Disappointment Trail – An easy 1.2 mile trail that leads to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
- Bell’s View Trail – Easy 0.25 mile ocean view trail along a wooden boardwalk that passes several World War II buildings and structures.
Fishing at Cape Disappointment State Park
Love fishing? Cape Disappointment State Park offers guests with a Washington fishing license opportunities for both freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing. Dig for clams or fish for crabs, salmon, lingcod, rockfish, and seaperch from boat, dock, or shore.
Birding at Cape Disappointment State Park
The park’s surrounding features, including the Pacific Ocean, Columbia River, woodlands, marsh and wetlands attract a variety of native and migratory birds. According to the National Audubon Society five important bird areas lie within this area and nearby Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.
Be sure to bring your binoculars before heading out for a walk around the park. You may get a chance to see a Great Blue Heron, Trumpeter Swan, Peregrine Falcon, Red-Breasted Sapsucker, Sanderling, Western Screech-Owl, Black-Bellied Plover, Western Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Merlin, Snow Bunting, or a Common Yellowthroat.
Nature and Wildlife at Cape Disappointment State Park
Beautiful Cape Disappointment State Park, surrounded by forest and wetlands along the Pacific Coast, is a prime location for nature lovers. Here you will have a chance to see a variety of wildlife including birds, frogs, snakes, salamanders, otters, beavers, black bears, Roosevelt elk, and whales.
Whale watching is a major attraction here all year round. Viewing platforms located at the North Head Lighthouse and Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center offer guests a closer look at these magnificent creatures.
Pets are welcome at Cape Disappointment State Park as long as they are leashed and supervised. Please clean up after your pet.
Cape Disappointment State Park’s spacious campground offers guests a variety of overnight choices, many with spectacular views. These choices include modern and primitive campsites, rustic cabins, yurts, and 2 Victorian era vacation houses.
The park’s year round campsites consist of 137 basic sites, 60 with electric, water and sewer hookups, 18 sites with water and electric hookups, and an additional 5 primitive campsites that may only be reached by foot or bicycle.
The 3 cabins are nestled along the shoreline of Lake O’Neil surrounded by woods. Each cabin has bunk beds, a futon, heat, lights and a covered front porch area. Pets are allowed in certain cabins only and for an additional fee.
Each of the 14 yurts, located near the beach along the Pacific Ocean, has bunk beds, a full-size futon, heat, electricity, and an outdoor deck area. Evenings inside the park tend to be cool so guests should plan to bring extra blankets and warm clothing.
A picnic table and fire pit with a cooking grate are located at all campsites, cabins, and yurts. Restrooms and showers are within walking distance of all sites except for the primitive campsites.
The Victorian-era Head Lighthouse Keepers’ Residence and Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Residences offer guests a comfortable stay and spectacular views of the Pacific. Both of these houses feature a fully equipped kitchen, 3 bedrooms, and a living room with a TV and DVD player.
Cape Disappointment State Park
244 Robert Gray Drive
Ilwaco, WA 98624
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Cape Disappointment State Park:
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