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The Olympic Peninsula and Washington Coast Sights

Cape Disappointment

  • Geological Site

Updated 10/17/2014

Fodor's Review

The cape was named in 1788 by Captain John Meares, an English fur trader who had been unable to find the Northwest Passage. This rocky cape and treacherous sandbar—the so-called graveyard of the Pacific—has been the scourge of sailors since the 1800s. More than 250 ships have sunk after running aground on its ever-shifting sands. A ½-mile-long path from the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Cape Disappointment State Park leads to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

Built in 1856, it's the oldest lighthouse on the West Coast that's still in use.

U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment. This is the northwest coast's largest search-and-rescue station and the rough conditions of the Columbia River provide plenty of lessons for the students at the on-site National Motor Life Boat School. The only institution of its kind, the school teaches advanced skills in navigation, mechanics, firefighting, and lifesaving to elite rescue crews from around the world. The observation platform on the north jetty in Cape Disappointment State Park is a good place to watch the motor lifeboats. 322 Coast Guard Rd., 98624. 360/642–2382.

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Sight Information


Ilwaco, Washington, 98624, United States

Updated 10/17/2014


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