Cape Disappointment State Park

Cape Disappointment is located in the bottom, left corner of the state, near Ilwaco. This was the originally-planned terminus for RAW 2004.


Because it offers ocean beach access, the park is very popular. In March, I needed to slide my reservation forward one day. Almost anywhere else, staying on a Sunday night wouldn’t be a big deal. However, the yurts are booked semisolid through late October. I was fortunate to find another yurt with an opening on the one night.

Dates visited: May 21-23

Campsite:Yurts 90 and 89, one day each. Yurts are something between a rigid tent and a cabin, both in design and cost. Unlike the original Mongolian yurts, these have electric heaters, futon beds a porch and handicap-accessible ramps. Although the yurts are identical, #90 had a better feng shui.

Worst part: the blood-sucking mosquitos, as I discovered when I was giong around the yurt opening the windows (from the outside). Despite keeping covered up, slathering DEET on and keeping moving, I still had a dozen itchy welts.I fared much better than my campmates.

Best features:

  • Lewis and Clarke interpretive center — Because of construction, the Center was accessible only via shuttle. The corridors give a quick review of the first few years of the L&C expedition. The real emphasis is on their 1804 arrival at Cape Disappointment. I remember reading Undaunted Courage about how much adversity they underwent on the route. The dramatic reenactment of their spending a week holed up on the side of a steep enclave along the Columbia River, unable to make forward progress, being pelted by rain yet so close to being there makes me appreciate how hardy they were.

    Other interesting parts of the exhibit underscored how much effort went into the basics of eating (e.g. do you shoot one deer or three-dozen ducks?) and the challenges of loading up a canoe without tipping it. I’m glad I went.

  • Miles of beach access — Thanks to the constant wind, the beach was mostly mosquito-free.

  • Two(!) lighthouses– The hiking trail to the northhead lighthouse was mosquitoville. (You can also drive.) Near the top are cottages that you can rent out for larger parties.

Hiking: **. Nothing strenuous, except you’ll get a workout swatting mosquitos.
Swimming: ** It’s ocean beach – fine for wading.
Scenery: *** Nice views from the lighthouses.
Campsites:*** The yurts were a nice break from the tent-setup. The mosquitos could have been much worse.
Noise:*** The ocean drowns out indidental noise.

4 thoughts on “Cape Disappointment State Park”

  1. My parents live across the bay at Chinook, WA. It’s a neat area, and the two roads from Ilwaco to Cape D are pretty fun.

  2. “The mosquitos could have been much worse.”

    It’s coments like this that squash even the tiniest inkling I might have ever had for outdoor activies.

    Blogs like yours give me sufficient adventure… Thanks!

  3. Susan – I often the same way about remodels. Reading all of the contractor herding and correciton on your blog satisfied my curiosity and also squashed any inkling I’d want to do a major on my house. Sober. (Of course, I can’t afford a new house, so maybe I may have to bite the bullet… some day)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *