Cape Disappointment State Park Travel Guide

  • Reaching the ocean at last
    Reaching the ocean at last
    by Segolily
  • North Head Lighthouse at Sunset
    North Head Lighthouse at Sunset
    by RedbeardMathPirate
  • North Head Lighthouse at Sunset
    North Head Lighthouse at Sunset
    by RedbeardMathPirate

Cape Disappointment State Park Things to Do

  • Confluence Project: Baker Bay Fish...

    As part of the 200th anniversary of the Corps of Discovery / Lewis & Clark Expedition, a series of artworks were undertaken along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington. The fish cleaning table at the Baker Bay boat ramp is one of these projects.The original fish cleaning table at this location was very primitive, and in 2006 a new table by...

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  • Confluence Project: Baker Bay Viewpoint...

    Hidden on the far side of the parking lot for the Baker Bay Boat Ramp, you will find an oyster shell trail leading into the bushes. At the end of this trail you will find a new observation platform with benches on it, positioned slightly over the waters of Baker Bay.As part of the 200th anniversary of the Corps of Discovery / Lewis & Clark...

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  • Confluence Project: Cedar Circle

    Cedar trees were held in great esteem by the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest. Not only were these frequently the largest of trees in the area, they were also extremely useful. The bark of the western red cedar could be turned into clothes and other woven objects, while the wood was very useful for building the tribal long houses.Once the...

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  • Confluence Project: Boardwalk at Waikiki...

    As part of the 200th anniversary of the Corps of Discovery / Lewis & Clark Expedition, a series of artworks were undertaken along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington. This boardwalk is one of several such works in Cape Disappointment State Park.As a practical matter, the boardwalk serves as a solid surface on which to walk, between Waikiki...

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  • Baker Bay Boat Ramp

    Located in a well sheltered inlet of Baker Bay, on the inland side of Cape Disappointment, this boat ramp can be a popular location during fishing season. The restroom facility has flush toilets, and near the boat ramp there is a fish cleaning table that is also a special work of art commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Corps of...

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  • The Remains of Fort Canby

    While today it is a state park, Cape Disappointment was originally known by its military name of Fort Canby, and up until the end of World War II this was regarded as a vital fortification for defense of the Columbia River entrance.With the entire concept of warfare changing (the futility of attacking and occupying massive amounts of hostile land...

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  • Beard's Hollow Trailhead

    This is a paved parking area that is only slightly across the line into the state park. This trailhead serves four trails:The Discovery Trail passes through the north side of the park, and from this parking area north it is a paved trail suitable for bikes. It goes all the way to the north side of the city of Long Beach. A short walk through the...

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  • Discovery Trail passes through North...

    The Long Beach Peninsula passes through the north edge of Cape Disappointment State Park. This is a paved trail that leads from the northern edge of the town of Long Beach south into the state park, and then through a gap in the rock outcroppings into the town of Ilwaco.As the north end of this trail is in Long Beach, please see my Long Beach...

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  • Cape Disappointment Light House

    Right next to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, you will find the Cape Disappointment light house. This is the oldest functioning light house on the west coast, having been completed in 1856.As it remains in service, tours of it are not offered as they are of the North Head Light House. However, there is a viewpoint trail called the Cape...

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  • Lewis and Clark at the Columbia River...

    There is a Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center inside Cape Disappointment State Park, but the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park includes a number of scattered locations in Oregon and Washington.So, I have titled this tip "Lewis and Clark at the Columbia River Mouth" as it will primarily discuss the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, but also...

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  • Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

    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-...

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  • Watch for wildlife

    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...

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  • Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

    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...

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  • 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...

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  • Monument to the Corps of Discovery

    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...

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  • Waikiki Beach

    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...

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  • 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...

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  • Sunset at North Head Lighthouse

    North Head Lighthouse is a beautiful place to catch the sunset, if you happen to be in the area on a clear enough day. The Pacific spreads out before you as the sun dips low. The orange and pink of the sky reflects off the white lighthouse tower and colors the cliffs that surround you.

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  • USCG NATIONAL MOTOR BOAT LIFESAVING...

    You used to be able to walk around the Coast Guard Station here at Cape Disappointment but post 9/11 there seem to be a lot of fences and barbed wire. Out in front of the school is a 33-foot lifesaving boat monument - this boat had a long history for saving lives around the coasts of America. This boat has been superseded by a 44 foot and now the...

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  • LEWIS AND CLARK INTERPRETATIVE CENTER

    This is a nice museum devoted to the Corps of Discovery’s time here at the mouth of the Columbia, but also life before and after. This museum and the Columbia Maritime Museum in Astoria are two must-sees in the area. The museum is built upon a cliff above the river mouth where two of the four gun batteries of Fort Canby - one of the three forts...

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  • DEAD MAN’S COVE

    Turkish VT member Mirliya pronounced Dead Man’s Cove as the second best place she had visited during her three month stay in Portland - Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach was number one. And maybe the day that I saw a sea lion drawn up on the little islet in the middle of the cove put this place into the magical category for m, as well. Old 19th century...

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  • CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT LIGHTHOUSE

    This lighthouse marks the northern entry to the Columbia River. A notorious sandbar - Peacock Spit, named for the USS Peacock which came to grief on it in 1841 - lay just west of it and it is on this spit that the North Jetty was built to help stabilize the Columbia River Bar. A short but magical 0.75 mile takes you over from the Lewis and Clark...

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  • North Head Lighthouse Trail

    At the end of a short trail (about 1/4 of a mile, or 400 meters) through beach front woods, you arrive at the North Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse is one of two in this state park.Lighthouse Tours are available, but sometimes it is hard to get onto the tours.However, the views from the grounds of the lighthouse, and the trail to it, are wonderful...

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  • Tour the North Head Lighthouse

    Tours operate on a regular schedule, based on the season, and are subject to certain safety rules. For example, people are not allowed to wear sandals, flip-flops, etc. on the lighthouse tour as they are dangerous on the tight staircase and tight, crowded quarters of the tour.Tours currently cost $2.50.Children under the age of 6 are currently not...

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Cape Disappointment State Park Restaurants

  • Segolily's Profile Photo
    Pier complex with Pelicano on the right 1 more image

    by Segolily Updated Jan 25, 2010

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    At the end of our day at Cape Disappointment we wandered the short distance down to the Port of Ilwaco. This is a charming harbor pier with several restaurants, galleries and shops.

    Pelicano was recommended to us by another establishment in the same complex, so we didn't know whether to trust them or not. However it was spot on for a wonderful dinner. The atmosphere was upscale, relaxed, refined, but warm and at the same time we were certainly comfortable in the hiking clothes we'd been wearing for the park.
    Writing now a year after the fact many of the details elude me. I'm pretty certain this was where I had my salmon, fresh caught as it was salmon season. Hubby probably had the oysters that he learned to enjoy while on this trip. The service was unobtrusive and efficient, the food was delicately seasoned so as to enhance the flavor and not drowned it.
    The prices were a little higher than we are used to but did not seem extravagant. We loved sitting by the window overlooking the harbor, and then afterward taking a short walk in the evening breeze. It was a quiet and delightful evening.

    Favorite Dish: This restaurant had the feeling of a local neighborhood place, with repeat customers frequent. Located at the pier of Ilwaco Harbor it is ideally situated for fresh ocean and river catches.
    Reservations needed/recommended 360.642.4034

    Related to:
    • National/State Park

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Cape Disappointment State Park Transportation

  • glabah's Profile Photo

    by glabah Written Sep 22, 2011

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    Cape Disappointment State Park in and of itself is not served by public transit, but it is quite close to Ilwaco. It is possible to walk between parts of the state park trail system and Ilwaco fairly easily. Public transit here is not very frequent or convenient, but it does exist if you absolutely do not want to or can't drive to this location. However, doing this does involve a bit of a walk.

    The most frequent bus service is bus route #20, which connects Ilwaco, Long Beach and Oysterville on Weekdays reasonably regularly, and five times a day on Saturdays.

    On weekdays, bus route 24 connects Ilwaco to Astoria several times a day. From Astoria there are connections to various other cities, including Portland.

    Once a day, the bus that goes to Astoria continues north as bus route #50 to South Bend. From there it is possible to connect to bus route #32 to Raymond, and from there it is possible to get bus route #14 north to Aberdeen. In Aberdeen there are connections to Grays Harbor Transit to various places, including Olympia and Centralia.

    Bus route #50 connects at Naselle to Wahkiakum on the Move buses to Cathlamet and Kelso, but this bus route only comes to Naselle twice per day.

    Fares on bus route #20 is $0.35. On bus routes #14, 24 and 50 it is $0.50. Or, you can get an all day pass good for all routes all day for $1.50.

    The Discovery Trail links Ilwaco to the state park trail network, which will take you anywhere in the park.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Road Trip

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Cape Disappointment State Park Shopping

  • Store at Lewis & Clark Interpretive...

    Located inside the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, the small store kiosk features an assortment of local crafts and artists work, nature themed cards from a national publishing group, toys from other parts of the world, and various other odds and ends.There are historical photographs from a national photo publishing company, but the inventory...

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  • I think it was the only place there

    This is the kind of small store that is just so fun and vital. More a camping store than anything else.

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Cape Disappointment State Park Off The Beaten Path

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    View of Baker Bay through Forest from Trail 4 more images

    by glabah Written Jan 13, 2014

    At the junction of the road that leads to the Baker Bay Boat Ramp and the road that leads south towards the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center there is an entrance to a short loop of a trail.

    This trail makes a loop through the remaining forest that sits on a hill above the Baker Bay Boat Ramp.

    The trail starts steep, and other than the forest itself there isn't a huge amount to be seen here. There are one or two locations where there are views of the surrounding area, but ultimately the view isn't any better from these points than it is from the Baker Bay Viewpoint.

    The forest here is mostly second growth, through there are the remains of a few forest giants here.

    How to Get Here: Follow the signs to the boat ramp, as it is the only one in the area. The trail is marked on the current map of the state park, available on the state park web site listed below. As seen in photo 5, the trail starts at the edge of a hill, as viewed from the entrance to the parking area for the Baker Bay Boat Ramp.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Hiking and Walking

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