Tuesday, October 11, 2022

10/9 Cape Disappointment SP, Southwest Washington

Cape Disappointment was named that because several ships were sunk here on one weekend in 1853.   It is located on the northern side of the opening where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean, creating a lot of shifting sand bars and strong currents.  Here is a photo of one of those ships on its side. 

Cape Disappointment State Park is on a peninsula near the small town of Illwaco, which is on the other side of the Columbia River from Astoria, Oregon.  It occupies most of the lower half of the peninsula shown on this map:

I am a little sorry that I had scheduled four nights here because there was no cell service at all, which means I cannot use my Verizon hotspots for internet access.  It is amazing how often in a day you want to know something or contact someone and realize that without the internet we rely on so heavily, that you are out of luck. Also, the roads to the two lighthouses located here and the main interpretive center are closed to RVs, so I could not even visit these places without long, uphill hikes.  So, I was disappointed, as well, with this place.

Not too bad of a campsite.  It was paved and I had water and electric hookups, plus sewer.  Also, by pulling up to the front of my site, I was able to get satellite TV, which helped.  I spend much of my time here sorting through my UK booklets and reading the ones I had missed reading while on my trip.  I am taking them back to Ohio to store there. 


The first full day I was there, I decided to walk to the beach at the end of this road to see the ocean.  

Unfortunately, the fog was heavy, so while I could hear it, there was no ocean to be seen.  It was also cold and very windy, so I did not spend long here.

The mouth of the Columbia River is somewhere down this way. 

And there is a lighthouse down this way.

It is a VERY deep beach, so I could not even see the waves breaking on the shore at low tide.

Ah!  Day Two arrives with some sunshine!  So off to the beach again.

 MUCH better!  There is actually an ocean out there.

And I can see the peninsula with the lighthouse in the distance today.

Can't see the Columbia River from here, but at least I can see the whole beach in the distance.

It is a treat to occasionally see this flat ocean bottom during a very low tide.  It does not happen in very many places, but when the water rushes out, there are these hard sand areas with little rivers you can walk on.  You can walk out quite far by stepping over or jumping over the tiny streams of tidal water.  I did not even get my shoes wet!!

The water was clear and cold, and these gulls were taking advantage of this little sandbar to sit on.

Another view of the lighthouse from a viewpoint on the sandbar.

Any place on the Pacific shoreline of Oregon and Washington is covered with old logs from river flooding or as the result of logging.  The campground is beyond the logs, hidden by the forest.

The areas close to the coast receive not only the usual northwest rain, but they also get a lot of fog and the ocean presents a mild climate.  The result is a lot of ferns growing on the ground and a lot of moss in many trees.  In some ways, this reminds me of parts of Florida, except it is a LOT colder and windier!!

Tomorrow I head to Champoeg Historical State Park, just south of Portland, OR.


  1. Thanks for all the pictures. When we lived in California we used to spend the summers in Oregon and Washington.

  2. Hi Judy! I met you this summer in Iowa at saylorville. I was thinking of you a while back, but couldn’t remember your name. Was going through some paperwork today, getting ready to travel south for the winter and found your card!!

    1. I remember you. Are you headed back to Florida for the winter or someplace else south? It is getting very chilly here in Oregon on the coast, but will be headed to Las Vegas in a week or so--looking forward to it being a bit warmer, but not super hot!

  3. I’m going to the Texas coast, southern NM then Arizona! I’m still in Iowa, had a cold snap, time to move on!!