Published: 09/25/2009 Updated: 06/20/2019
Cape Disappointment State Park is the most visited in the Washington State Park system. It encompasses 1882 acres, fronting on the Pacific Ocean with spectacular views of the sea, Columbia River, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and North Head Lighthouse.
Visitors can enjoy more than 4.5 miles of hiking trails through coastal forest land at Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco. Commemorative markers and interpretive panels are placed along the trails. This is not just a fair weather park. During inclement weather, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center that features exhibits about the Lewis and Clark Expedition from 1803-1806, is a wonderful stop for families, with interactive exhibits that let children try to pack a canoe without tipping it, follow a treasure hunt and check out what members of the Corps of Discovery ate during the rainy winter they endured at Fort Clatsop in 1805. The interpretive center is perched on a cliff 160 feet above the mouth of the Columbia and is a great vantage point for watching wild waves crashing on the rocks below and for spotting Gray Whales during their winter and spring migrations. The Cape D Lighthouse, marking the "graveyard of the Pacific," turned 153 years old on October 15 this year and is the longest operating light on the West Coast. The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is not open for tours, however, the North Head Lighthouse two miles away may be toured on Saturdays.