Here’s how much we love Washington…after months of traveling in Western Washington and finally making it out of the state to Oregon, we just had to take a day trip back! The Cape Disappointment area was high on our list of places to visit and it was only a short drive back over the Astoria-Megler Bridge into Washington. Along the route, we stopped at Middle Village (aka Station Camp), where the girls explored some canoes and we learned that Lewis & Clark stayed at this Chinook trading camp, which was vacant at the time, for ten days. Clark spent this time drawing a map of the mouth of the Columbia River. Afterwards, the group voted to make their camp for the winter on the other side of the river.
Canoe at Station Camp
As we continued on toward the Cape Disappointment State Park, we stopped several times along the way to enjoy the views. The park has a lot to offer, including two lighthouses (necessary to alert sailors of the rocky coast as they navigated the treacherous waters at the mouth of the Columbia River), lots of trails, a Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, and two miles of ocean beach. From one of our first stops, we could see the North Jetty. The jetty system was built 1885 – 1939 to make navigation of the waters easier and to prevent erosion of the shores. You can read more about the jetties here.
Roadside Lookout Point
We were really excited to actually get to one of the lighthouses. We came upon the North Head Lighthouse first. It was the second of the lighthouses to be put into service at Cape Disappointment. The short trail out to the lighthouse was very windy! The minimum age for entrance into the lighthouse was seven, so Orange Hippie waited outside in the crisp breezy air while Heart Love and Ron checked out the views from the lighthouse.
Walking to the North Head Lighthouse
Wind blown trees
North Head Lighthouse
Heart Love heading up the lighthouse stairs
The coastal view
Waving at mom and Orange Hippie on the ground
After the North Head Lighthouse, we continued on and although we didn’t stop and walk this trail, we definitely thought it was beautiful and worth mentioning here. Perhaps next time we visit this park, we will allow some extra time for more exploring.
A lovely trail
Now, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this anywhere yet, but one thing that I think creates nature lovers in Washington is the abundance of signs which label plants in the area. We see them on trails, at businesses, historic homes, just about anywhere. After a while, you start to actually gain some knowledge and I know, as a family, we have enjoyed challenging each other to identify plants, and we can use the signs for confirmation, when needed. Anyway, we had a short uphill trail to climb from the parking lot to the Interpretive Center, and along that trail, we saw the best sign ever! And it’s true, there’s a lot of fog here! According to Wikipedia, Cape Disappointment receives about 2,552 hours of fog per year (that’s 106 days!)
We love Washington signage!
So I mentioned we were climbing the trail to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. We arrived, and it was, how do I say, a little less than exciting for the girls. You basically walk through a self-guided tour of pictures on the wall, and then there was a room with some hands on activities and displays, but overall, we enjoyed the views and history of the area more than the center itself.
Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
Not sure what this says about us, but we did think this was interesting. On the sea cliffs, there’s a lot of bird poo, and there was a sign to give explanation for the odor which you may smell from the walkway at the Center.
Yep, that’s guano
And lastly on our day trip, we could see the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from the Interpretive Center. The lighthouse was first lit on October 15, 1856. The light was automated in 1973 and remains active today.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Now…back to Oregon!