Fodor's Expert Review Cape Disappointment State Park

Ilwaco Park (National/State/Provincial) Fodor's Choice
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, Fort Canby State Park, Waikiki Beach, Ilwaco, Washington

The cape, named in 1788 by Captain John Meares, an English fur trader who had been unable to find the Northwest Passage, 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. The 1,882-acre park overlooking the cape was an active military installation until 1957. Emplacements for the guns that once guarded the Columbia's mouth remain, some of them hidden by dense vegetation. Trails lead to stunning beaches and eagles can sometimes be seen on the cliffs. All of the park's 220 campsites have stoves and tables; some have water, sewer, and electric hookups. The park also has three lightkeepers' residences (houses) available for rent, as well as 14 yurts and three cabins. Exhibits at the park's Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center tell the tale of the duo's 8,000-mile round-trip expedition. Displays include artwork, journal entries, and other... READ MORE

The cape, named in 1788 by Captain John Meares, an English fur trader who had been unable to find the Northwest Passage, 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. The 1,882-acre park overlooking the cape was an active military installation until 1957. Emplacements for the guns that once guarded the Columbia's mouth remain, some of them hidden by dense vegetation. Trails lead to stunning beaches and eagles can sometimes be seen on the cliffs. All of the park's 220 campsites have stoves and tables; some have water, sewer, and electric hookups. The park also has three lightkeepers' residences (houses) available for rent, as well as 14 yurts and three cabins. Exhibits at the park's Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center tell the tale of the duo's 8,000-mile round-trip expedition. Displays include artwork, journal entries, and other items that elaborate on the Corps of Discovery, which left Illinois, in 1804, arrived at Cape Disappointment in 1805, and returned in 1806. A ½-mile-long path from the center leads to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Built in 1856, it's the oldest lighthouse on the West Coast that's still in use.

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Park (National/State/Provincial) Fodor's Choice Family Building/Architectural Site Nautical Site/Lighthouse Military Site

Quick Facts

Ilwaco, Washington  98624, USA

360-642–3029

www.parks.wa.gov

Sight Details:
Day pass $10 per vehicle; annual Discovery Pass $30 (valid at all state parks); Interpretive center $5, campsites $21–$28 Day pass $10 per vehicle, annual Discovery Pass $30 (valid at all state parks); Interpretive center $5; lighthouse tours $2.50; campsites $20–$45 Rate Includes: Daily dawn–dusk; Interpretive center: daily 10–5

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