Cape Disappointment State Park: Washington state's most famous and popular parks

Newly reconstructed boat launching facilities at Cape Disappointment State Park offer affordable access to the Columbia and are close to the outer waters of the Pacific. The Ilwaco channel is watched over by U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape D in the background.<BR><I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I>

Cape Disappointment is one Washington state's most famous and popular parks. Some of its favorite features include: a premier campground, beautiful beaches, new public artworks, two lighthouses, an interpretive center and miles of hiking trails.

Camping: Cape Disappointment State Park has 152 standard campsites, 83 utility sites, five primitive campsites, one dump station, eight restrooms (two ADA) and 14 showers (four ADA). Maximum site length is 45 feet (may have limited availability). Camping is available year-round. To reserve a campsite, call 888-CAMPOUT or 888-226-7688.

Beachcombing: Take your pick from three beaches for your beachcombing or strolling. Waikiki Beach is located where the North Jetty meets the rocky cape. This beach is one of the locals' favorite spots for storm watching because the waves crash on the cape here with the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in the background. Benson Beach is the sandy stretch from the North Jetty to North Head, hikers can enjoy the lack of vehicles, the huge driftwood trees and a great view of the North Head Lighthouse. Beards Hollow, the southern stretch of the Peninsula, offers visitors a chance to view tide pools at low tide near the historic "Fishing Rocks" or take the Discovery Trail north to Long Beach or east to Ilwaco.

The Confluence Project: The recently-completed Confluence Project site is one of seven locations on the Columbia River where artist Maya Lin has created places to think. Using the language of the Chinook people and members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, these artworks put the Bicentennial into a larger perspective, encouraging the visitor to re-consider the cultural and natural layers of history found on the Lower Columbia River. The site at Cape Disappointment includes a basalt fish-cleaning table, a Baker Bay viewing platform, several short trails, and a new amphitheater with a view of the ocean.

Two Lighthouses: The park offers access to two historic lighthouses.

The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. The view from the Cape Disappointment light is astounding, overlooking the Columbia River bar from the very tip of the cape. The picturesque North Head Lighthouse is perched on the headland surrounded by the ocean in all its glory.

Historic Vacation Rentals: If you are looking for a unique and inspirational historic vacation rental consider staying in the newly renovated lighthouse keeper residences. Choose between the head keepers' house with its view of the lighthouse from the upstairs bedroom windows or reserve one of the halves of the assistant keepers' house. North Head Lighthouse was historically operated by three keepers, each taking an eight-hour shift. Now you can stay at North Head and enjoy the benefits of being a lighthouse keeper without having to haul whale oil up 69 stairs. Reservations can be made by calling 888-CAMPOUT.

Hiking Trails: The cape has over eight miles of hiking trails to choose from. These trails lead hikers through multiple ecosystems, from coastal fog forest to the saltwater marsh to grass-covered dunes. The rustic trails cut through some impressive huge old spruce and hemlock trees and often end up either at a lighthouse or at an abandoned military structure. Fort Canby was a coastal defense fort at the cape from 1852 to 1947. Pick up a hiking trail map from the park office or the interpretive center.

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