Cape Disappointment: Overview
Park overview:Cape Disappointment State Park (formerly Fort Canby State Park) is a 1,882-acre camping park on the Long Beach Peninsula, fronted by the Pacific Ocean. The park offers two miles of ocean beach, two lighthouses, an interpretive center and hiking trails. Visitors enjoy beachcombing, ship watching and exploring the area's rich natural and cultural history. The nearby coastal towns of Ilwaco and Long Beach feature special events and festivals spring through fall.
Want to support Washington State Parks? Get involved by joining a friends' group. For more information, visit the Friends' Group web page.
Summer: 6:30 a.m. to dusk.
Winter: 6:30 a.m. to dusk
The park is open year round for camping and day use.
Check-in time, 2:30 p.m.
Check-out time, 1 p.m.
Quiet hours: 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
Don't move firewood: Please protect the Pacific Northwest from invasive species by obtaining or purchasing your firewood at or near your camping destination (within 50 miles). Firewood can carry insects and diseases that threaten the health of our western forests. You can make a difference by buying and burning your firewood locally. For more information, visit online at www.dontmovefirewood.org or the Washington Invasive Species Council website.
Annual pass: $30
One-day pass: $10
(Transaction and dealer fees may apply)
A Discover Pass is required for motor-vehicle access to state parks and recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Exemptions: Your purchase of the Discover Pass supports recreation on state lands. However, the Discover Pass is not required if you are camping or renting overnight accommodations, for the duration of your stay at that state park. For additional exemptions and more information, please visit the Discover Pass website.
Campsite Information:Cape Disappointment has 137 standard campsites, 60 full hookup sites, 18 sites with water and electricity only, five primitive campsites, fourteen yurts, three cabins, one dump station, eight restrooms (two ADA) and 14 showers (four ADA). Maximum site length is 45 feet (may have limited availability). Camping is available year-round; for further information call the park office (360) 642-3078. Year-round reservations are available by visiting online or calling (888) CAMPOUT or (888) 226-7688.
Camping reservations: Spring and summer camping reservations for campsites 11-20, 101-110 and 161-170 are accepted (usually in March) after the winter storm season each year. These sites are in an area susceptible to erosion from winter storms and tidal surges and may not be open to camping because of damage. The sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis during the winter, weather permitting.
Overnight AccommodationsThe fourteen yurts at Cape Disappointment are within walking distance of the beach. Each yurt is 16 feet in diameter by 10 feet high and is furnished with bunk beds that sleep three, a full-size futon, floor lamp, small end table and heater. Outside is a picnic table, fire pit with grate and a deck that is accessible to people with disabilities. All yurts are heated, but visitors should take along blankets and warm clothing as evenings can be cool. An RV pad with hookup nearby is available for an additional fee.
Three cabins are tucked into an alder forest on the shore of Lake O'Neil. Each cabin is furnished with a bunk bed that sleeps three, a full-size futon and small end table. Each cabin is 13-by-13 feet in size and has a 6-foot covered front porch, picnic table, electric heat, lights, fire pit with grate and locking doors. Bathrooms and showers are nearby. For more information visit the cabins/yurts page To make a reservation, visit online or call (888) CAMPOUT or (888) 226-7688.
2013 camping fees:
Please note that the following general fee information is not customized for each individual park, so not all fees will apply to all parks (for example, primitive campsite and dump station fees listed apply only to parks that have primitive campsites and dump stations).
May 15 – Sept. 15 (peak season)
Primitive campsite and water trail camping: $12
Standard campsite: $23 non-premium site, $26 premium site
Partial-utility campsite*: $30 non-premium site, $35 premium site
Full-utility campsite*: $32 non-premium site, $37 premium site
*Please note: Camping fees during the 2013 peak season are $28 for partial-utility sites and $29 for full-utility sites at Beacon Rock, Lewis & Clark and Schafer state parks. These parks are first come, first served.
Jan. 1 – May 14 and Sept. 16 – Dec. 31 (off-peak season)
Primitive campsite and water trail camping: $12
Standard campsite: $22 for non-premium and premium sites
Partial-utility campsite: $28 for non-premium and premium sites
Full-utility campsite: $29 for non-premium and premium sites
2014 camping fees:
For specific campsite prices, please visit the camping reservation website.
|Primitive and water trail campsites||$12||$12||$12|
|Standard campsites||$20 to $31||$20 to $29||$17 to $25|
|Partial-utility campsites||$30 to $39||$27 to $38||$26 to $32|
|Full-utility campsites||$32 to $42||$29 to $40||$27 to $35|
Note: Peak, shoulder and winter season dates vary by park. See listing of seasons by park.
Maximum eight people per campsite.
Second vehicle: $10 per night is charged for a second vehicle unless it is towed by a recreational vehicle. Extra vehicles must be parked in designated campsite or extra vehicle parking spaces.
Dump stations (if available): Year-round dump station fees are $5 per use. If you are camping, this fee is included in your campsite fee.
More about park hours
Check-in time is 2:30 p.m., and check-out time is 1 p.m.
Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
Engine-driven electric generators may be operated only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Length of stay: You may stay up to ten consecutive days in any one park from April 1 through Sept. 30; the stay limit is extended to 20 days between Oct. 1 and March 31.
To view campsites and facilities reservable at this park, visit the reservation system and campsite maps.
The park offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, Columbia River, North Head Lighthouse and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. The park has old-growth forest, lakes, freshwater and saltwater marshes, as well as streams and tidelands along the ocean. Three vacation rentals are available.
HistoryIn 1788, while in search of the Columbia River, English Captain John Meares missed the passage over the river bar and named the nearby headland Cape Disappointment for his failure in finding the river. In 1792, American Captain Robert Gray successfully crossed the river bar and named the river "Columbia" after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. Only a few years later, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at Cape Disappointment.
The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was constructed in 1856 to warn seamen of the treacherous river bar known by then as "the graveyard of the Pacific." This is the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast.
In 1862, Cape Disappointment was armed with smoothbore cannons to protect the mouth of the Columbia River from enemies. The installation was expanded to become Fort Canby in 1875. The fort was named after General Edward Canby, who was killed in the Modoc Indian War. The fort continued to be improved until the end of World War II. Gun batteries still sit uptop the park.
Interpretive opportunitiesLewis and Clark Interpretive Center (LCIC), perched on a 200-foot-high cliff, tells the story of Lewis and Clark and their journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. The center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from March 1 to Sept. 30 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from Oct. 1 to Feb. 28 (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day). Admission is $5 per adult, $2.50 children ages 7 to 17 and free for ages 6 and younger.
North Head Lighthouse is open to visitors from May to Sept. Tour admission is $2.50 per adult and free for ages 7 to 17. No children under the age of seven are permitted. Appropriate footwear is required; no flip flops or shoes without heel straps. Federal and State passes not accepted for admission. Call the center at (360) 642-3029 for hours and tour information.
The park also features interpretive trails and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
Other interpretive opportunities, such as the Fort Columbia Interpretive Center and the Fort Columbia Commanding Officer's House Museum, also are in the vicinity.
|Available in the park||Available in the area|
• Park store
• Pay phone
• Fire wood
|• Auto repair|
• Horse rental
• Marine supplies
• Overnight Accommodations
• Pay phone
• Postal service
• Recreational equipment
• White gas
The park store offers gifts, ice, wood, fishing gear and other camper essentials.
A summer food concession that sells hot dogs and other food.
|• 8 mi. Hiking Trails||• Boating (freshwater)|
• 1 boat ramp (freshwater)
• 135 feet of dock (freshwater)
• Fishing (freshwater)
• Fishing (saltwater)
|• 1 Amphitheater|
• Beach Exploration
• Bird Watching
• Interpretive Activities
• 3 Softball Fields
• 2 Volleyball Fields
• Wildlife Viewing
Baseball fields and basketball courts located nearby. A Columbia River fish-cleaning station is available to fishermen.
Events occuring in the area spring through fall:
- Loyalty Days - first weekend in May.
- World's Longest Garage Sale - Memorial Day.
- Garlic Festival - third weekend in June.
- Stunt Kite Competition - fourth weekend in June.
- Fireworks on the beach - 4th of July.
- Sand Sculpture Contest - third weekend in July.
- Rodeo - fourth weekend in July.
- Jazz & Oysters - third weekend in August.
- Rod Run - second weekend in September.
- Water Music Festival - fourth weekend in October.
Swimming in the ocean on the Long Beach Peninsula is not recommended. Strong currents, riptides and unexpected high waves pose a hazard to swimmers.
Significant nearby natural areas include Willapa Bay, Leadbetter Point and Beard's Hollow.
A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington state parks. For regulations, fishing season information or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website.
2014 State Parks free days:
Jan. 19 and 20 – In honor of Martin Luther King Day
March 19 – In honor of Washington State Parks' 101st birthday
April 19 – A spring Saturday free day
April 22 – Earth Day
May 11 – A spring Saturday free day
June 7 and 8 – In honor of National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend
June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day
Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday
Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day
Nov. 11 – Veteran's Day weekend
Please note: A Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during State Parks free days. For more information, please visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
Find other events at Washington State Parks
Boating FeaturesOne boat ramp and 135 feet of dock are provided on Baker Bay in the Columbia River.
A daily watercraft launching permit for $7 and a daily trailer dump permit for $5 is available at the park.
Annual permits also may be purchased at State Parks Headquarters in Olympia, at region offices, online, and at parks when staff is available.
Picnic and Day-use FacilitiesThe day-use area has 20 unsheltered picnic tables, available first come, first served.
|Mammals||Birds||Fish & Sea Life|
• Deer or Elk
|• Crows or Ravens|
• Sea Birds
• Red Snapper
|Physical Features||Plant Life|
|Bluffs, beaches, dunes, lakes, rivers, estuaries, wetlands, cliffs and caves.||• Douglas Fir|
• Eel Grass
• Moss or Lichens