Cape Disappointment State Park Things to Do Tips by Segolily
Cape Disappointment State Park Things to Do: 18 reviews and 50 photos
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from visitor center
Getting to this lighthouse requires a bit of a hike. But it can easily be seen from both the visitors center and the Waikiki beach.
This was the first lighthouse built in the area. First discussed in 1843 it took until 1856 to complete due to shipwrecks of the building materials and difficulties with the lens. They found an old one from New Jersey- a first order Fresnel- that became the first warning to ships bound for the Columbia River to avoid the cliffs of Cape Disappointment. When it was replaced in 1898 it was used in the North Lighthouse. It is now on display in the visitors center.
The trail from the parking lot is 1.5 miles rt. You can also take a trail from the visitors center which connects up with the parking lot trail.
"Travel down through the woods, making a brief stop to take in the small and beautiful beach known as Dead Man’s Cove before making a very steep ascent on the old Coast Guard Road up to the lighthouse. It’s about 0.7 miles from the center to the lighthouse; about half downward winding trail and half steep Coast Guard road." http://www.funbeach.com/attractions/cape-D-hikes.html
Directions: At the end of the Cape Disappointment state park road.
Cormorants and pelicans
There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. At the right time of year whales can be seen from any of the several lookouts. We saw deer and sea birds. You may not come to see them, but it is a nice reminder that they have been living in this area long before man invaded their space. Enjoy their presence as a sign that we share the world with many forms of life.
A copy of the native boats
This is a great visitors center with wonderful displays and information regarding the journey of the Corps of Discovery. This spot marked the end of their trip at the mouth of the Columbia River. They had found the Pacific Ocean via land. What a momentous work that was. Here are displays of the boats they used, the wildlife they found, the natives they met, the men and woman who journeyed with them. Here was the poignant story of Sacajawea who adamantly insisted that she be allowed to go to see the ocean.
Be warned however. The walk from the parking lot to the center is steep and for someone impaired very long. There is a drive up option if you have an handicapped sticker,,,,still no parking on top though so someone will have to walk up regardless.
Directions: At the end of the road to Ft Canby.
old Ft Canby
This is a small military base used during WWII to protect the mouth of the Columbia River. There isn't much left. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive center is built on top of it and life has moved on from the guns of the 20th century. Along with Ft Stevens on the south of the river the guns placed here were thankfully never used, though Ft Stevens was fired on. It is still an interesting walk through.
Directions: Follow the road to Lewis and Clark Interpretive center.
After Lewis and Clark set up camp at Station Camp, Clark and some of the men left the boats behind and walked to the ocean. They passed by McKenzie Head and made camp before going the last stretch to the long beaches of the peninsula. There is a nice monument near their campsite. There is a trail up the mountain and if you feel like following in their footsteps continue on the Discovery trail to Long Beach
Directions: It is along the road to the Benson Beach Campground.
No you aren't in Hawaii and this bears little resemblance to that other well known beach. But this is a nice protected cove where you can built log homes from the driftwood, go kayaking, or splash in the water on a hot summer day. There is also a nice view of Cape Disappointment lighthouse from here. Not too far from the campground it makes for a nice summer outing. There is a fun walkway to it recording different events that happened to Lewis and Clark on their Voyage of Discovery. By the parking lot there are also restrooms and showers.
Directions: Turn right at the North Jetty road and you'll drive right by the parking lot.
North Head Lighthouse
This beautiful lighthouse is accessed via a short trail from the parking lot to the edge of the cliffs it rests on. Originally built in 1898 to warn ships coming from the north who complained they could not see Cape Disappointment lighthouse until it was too late. Its first lens was the first order Fresnel lens that had been used in the Cape Disappointment lighthouse. It can now be seen at the Lewis and Clark interpretive visitors center. The lighthouse is painted all white with a red cap to distinguish it from its sister lighthouse only a few miles south.
The lantern room is 65 feet up and towers 194 feet from the ocean below. A small donation of $2.50 allows you to walk up the 69 steps and enjoy the view from the top. The lighthouse is still being used though now of course completely automated, the white light reaches out 18 miles to the horizon.
This is a very windy location and has had winds clocked at 120 miles an hour one of the windiest in the entire US. We visited on a foggy day, but loved it so much that the next day when it was bright and sunny we went again. The lighthouse keeper home was based away from the cliff out of the wind and has been restored into a overnight rental.
Directions: Follow the North Head road from Ilwaco. Park in the small lot and follow the short trail.
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