Cape Disappointment State Park

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Lighthouses stand sentinel atop windswept cliffs, sea smells waft up through the air and waves collide with a crash where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River below.

Named for Captain John Meares’ first thwarted voyage to find the Columbia, Cape Disappointment is steeped in Northwest history. This is the place to explore U.S. military and maritime legacies and to experience the story of Lewis & Clark and the effect of their Corps of Discovery Expedition on Native American tribes.

Step into the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center for interactive exhibits. Find overgrown ruins of military bunkers and coast defense batteries, and hear tales of two lighthouses and the first attempts to reach the Columbia River by ocean.

Hike through old-growth forest or around freshwater lakes, saltwater marshes and ocean tidelands. Gape at the breathtaking views. Launch your boat from Baker Bay. Benson Beach is a popular clam-digging destination, and fishers love to set up on the North Jetty to catch salmon and crab. The beaches at Cape Disappointment also lure kite-fliers, sand-castle builders and those who love to walk and explore.

Don’t be surprised if you leave Cape Disappointment intrigued by its complex and multi-faceted history and enchanted by its legends and its vistas. This park will fill your senses and occupy your mind, and you will long to return.


Park features

Cape Disappointment is a 2,023-acre camping park on the Long Beach Peninsula, fronted by the Pacific Ocean and looking into the mouth of the Columbia River. The park offers yurts, cabins and unique historic vacation homes to meet travelers’ diverse lodging needs.


Discover Pass: A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to state parks for day use. For more information about the Discover Pass and exemptions, please visit the Discover Pass web page.

Automated pay stations: This park is equipped with automated pay stations for visitors to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass.

  1. Boating
  2. Camping
  3. History
  4. Maps

Boating features

Located in Pacific County on the Pacific Ocean, Cape Disappointment offers one boat ramp and 135 feet of dock are provided on Baker Bay in the Columbia River. Launching a boat at a state park requires one of the following:

  • An annual launch permit (Natural Investment Permit; or
  • An annual Discover Pass and a daily launch permit; or
  • A one-day Discover Pass and a daily launch permit. Annual permits may be purchased at State Parks Headquarters in Olympia, at region offices, online and at parks when staff is available. Additional information can be found in the Boating Program.

ADA amenities/facilities

  • Campground
  • Hiking trail
  • Restroom

Use our interactive ADA recreation map to search for other state parks with ADA amenities and facilities.

Picnic & day-use facilities

The day-use area has 20 unsheltered picnic tables, available first come, first served.

Concessions

  • The Cape "D" Store carries a variety of items to meet your camping needs, including: firewood, ice, a variety of groceries, clothing, games and toys, fishing gear, RV supplies and propane. In addition they also serve up fresh hot sandwiches and ice cream.  They are open weekends in March, April and October and daily from May to September. To view their menu, click here.
  • Surfside Golf Course is located further up the coast at Skating Lake State Park in Ocean Park, WA (12.6 miles/23 minute drive from Cape Disappointment). The golf course offers a beautiful course in a park-like setting with a driving range, cafe, pro-shop, and rental clubs, pull carts and power carts.  They are open year-round.  For more information, visit them online.

Activities

Trails

  • 8 miles of hiking trails

Water activities & features

  • 135 feet of dock
  • Boating
  • Boat ramp
  • Clamming
  • Crabbing
  • Fishing(freshwater/saltwater)

Other activities & features

  • Amphitheater
  • Beach exploration
  • Bird watching
  • Concert series
  • Museum

Interpretive opportunities

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (LCIC), perched on a 200-foot-high cliff, tells the story of Lewis and Clark and their journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center The park also features interpretive trails and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Other interpretive opportunities, such as the Fort Columbia Interpretive Center, are also in the vicinity.

LCIC hours

Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nov. 1 - March 31, open Wednesdays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

LCIC admission
Admission prices for the LCIC are:

  • Ages 18 and older: $5
  • Ages 7 to 17: $2.50
  • Ages 6 and younger are free

North Head Lighthouse  - Closed for tours 2021 due to Covid-19
The North Head Lighthouse is open to visitors 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily from May to Sept. 30. Tour admission is $2.50 per adult and free for ages 7 to 17. Children under the age of seven are not permitted. Appropriate footwear is required, no flip flops or shoes without heel straps. Federal and state passes are not accepted for admission. Call the center at (360) 642-3029 for more information.

Additional information

  • The parking lots at the North Head, Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Beards Hollow will not accommodate RV parking.
  • Swimming in the ocean on the Long Beach Peninsula is not advised.
  • Significant nearby natural areas include Willapa Bay, Leadbetter Point and Beard's Hollow.
  • A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington state parks. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Printable park brochure (PDF).