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Cape Disappointment State Park - Where Gumbo Was #240


Congratulations to George G., PortMoresby, and GarryGF who correctly deduced that Gumbo was visiting the Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington State. This beautiful park sits in the southwest corner of the state, right at the mouth of the Columbia River.

IMG_0652Walking through the forest to the North Head Lighthouse

IMG_0653Looking south from the Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment was named in 1788, when Captain John Meares turned around just north of the cape, while looking for trade. Meares missed being the first European to encounter the mouth of the Columbia River. Four years later, George Vancouver did find the mouth of the river, and even gave credit to Meares in his accounts.

IMG_0660The North Head Lighthouse

IMG_0691The North Head Lighthouse Keepers Residence

IMG_0667Cove below the North Head Lighthouse

The Columbia River a large and powerful force of nature. It is the longest and largest river to drain into the Pacific Ocean in the Americas. The result is that the water carries over 16 million tons of silt down river every year, creating a very tricky and dangerous sand bar that has to be navigated to enter the river. In 1856 the Cape Disappointment Light House was built to mark the northern edge of Columbia’s mouth. However, its light is shielded from shops traveling from the north, leaving them with not enough time to prepare for entering the river. So, in 1898 the North Head Lighthouse was put into service, just two miles up the coast. This gave sailing ships enough warning, and gave the area a rarity – two lighthouses so close together.

IMG_0709Cape Disappointment Lighthouse


The State Park has beautiful hiking trails through old growth forest. Some trails lead to amazing views from the tops of the cliffs along the Pacific coast. Others lead down to wonderful coves. The trail to Cape Disappointment Light House does all three, showing off the old growth trees, going down to a lovely cove and then climbing back up to the lighthouse. The park offers over 150 campsites, 14 yurts and 3 cabins. Most interesting to me is the availability of the North Head Lighthouse Keepers residences for rental. These two Victorian era houses offer all of the comforts of home and all of the views of this fantastic park.


Getting Here:

Cape Disappointment State Park is about 2 miles south of Ilwaco WA. Take U.S. 101 to Ilwaco and follow the signs into the park. The day use fee is $10. Washington Offers a “Discover Pass” good for a full year for $30. I used mine five times during the two weeks I was in the area.


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