With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Jefferson sent four exploring parties to chart the lands newly added to the United States. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the most famous expedition, which ended here at the Pacific Ocean. Their expedition charted a well-inhabited land little known to Europeans and Americans.
Cape Disappointment State Park
One of the premier State Parks in Washington, almost to National Park status, Cape Disappointment offers miles of ocean beaches, two historic lighthouses, tons of hiking trails, camping and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Throughout the park are excellent views of the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. You'll also find old-growth forests, lakes, freshwater and saltwater marshes, streams and tideland meadows.
The geography of Cape Disappointment creates dramatic scenery with many opportunities for all types of visitors. Some of the views can be photographed a few feet from your car, while others require a half-mile hike into the forest. One of the most popular photo spots is from the first parking lot on the North Jetty Road. The view is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and waves crashing on the rocks below. On stormy days, dozens of people park there trying to photograph "The Big Wave." Below are some other top suggestions for sights in the park:
Washington State Parks
Located on a cliff 200 feet above the water, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center tells the story of the Corps of Discovery's journey, specific to their time on their Pacific Coast and Cape Disappointment. Inside you will find interactive exhibits, games for kids, and the sights within the park today. The view from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is expansive and impressive. On a clear day, you can see the Columbia River bar, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and down the Oregon Coast.
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
If you like sea cliffs, tide pools and waves crashing into rocks, check out Beards Hollow.
An easy walk to the important beacon for the northern approaches to the Columbia River.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast.
This motor-free beach is the best beach of the entire Long Beach Peninsula.
A short hike to the knoll that Lewis & Clark went up to get their first good view of the Pacific Ocean.
There are hundreds of acres of temperate rainforest to hike through within the park. The Westwind Trail is a challenging hike but many of the park's largest trees can be found in this area.
Experience a coastal fog forest while hiking through stands of Sitka spruce and western hemlock. Enjoy views of salt marshes, a freshwater lake, and McKenzie Head. 1.5 mile loop considered a moderate hike.
Coastal Forest Loop
Cape Disappointment has 137 standard campsites, 60 full hookup sites, 18 sites with water and electricity only, five primitive campsites, 14 yurts and three cabins. Some camps are open year-round.
This hiking & biking trail connects Ilwaco to Long Beach and follows a portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail. It passes through the northern portion of the park.
Camping In The Park
If you watch cormorants closely, you will see they dive from the surface of the water hunting for fish. After catching a fish, they resurface to swallow their catch and take a breath of air. Cormorants nest on the steep cliffs. They use the sticky guano (bird excrement) to hold their nests of seaweed and other plants together. During the dry summer and fall, this "guano glue" builds up on the rocks and fills the air with a pungent odor.
Feeding and Nesting Cormorants
The Edge of the Continent
Battery Harvey Allen with Interpretive Center built on top
Battery Harvey Allen
Hiking trail leaving the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
View of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from the Interpretive Center
Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from the North Jetty
Looking from the visitors center to the North Jetty
Red Tide at Beards Hollow
Benson Beach & the North Head Lighthouse
Hiking to the North Head Lighthouse
I have 5 pages with photos and information about these specific areas of the park