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Seashore Conservation Area
SEASHORE CONSERVATION AREA
Washington state’s northern coastline, renowned for its rugged windswept rock outcroppings and forested and scarcely populated shoreline, constitutes some of the last unspoiled seashore remaining in the United States. This stretch of coastline is primarily Tribal or National Park land.
South of Point Grenville, the rugged coastline gives way to expanses of sandy beaches and small seashore communities. Much of Washington’s southern coast is part of the Seashore Conservation Area (SCA), which is managed by Washington State Parks.
ABOUT THE SEASHORE CONSERVATION AREA
The Seashore Conservation Area was established in 1967 to provide and preserve recreational use on Washington’s coast for generations to come.
The Seashore Conservation Area comprises 62 miles of the state’s coastline between:
- Cape Disappointment, from the mouth of the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point (Long Beach Peninsula — 27 miles)
- The mouth of Willapa Bay, in Tokeland, and Point Chehalis, in Westport (South Beach — 13 miles)
- Damon Point, in Ocean Shores, and the southern boundary of the Quinault Indian National Reservation north of Moclips (Northern Shores — 22 miles )
In general, the SCA occupies the area between the line of ordinary high tide and the line of extreme low tide.
WASHINGTON STATE PARKS ADJACENT TO/NEAR THE SCA
Long Beach Area
- Leadbetter Point State Park
- Pacific Pines State Park
- Loomis Lake State Park Property
- Cape Disappointment State Park
Ocean beach access: Seaview. Sid Snyder, Bolstad, Cranberry, Klipsan, Ocean Park and Oysterville
South Beach Area
Ocean beach access: Grayland Beach, Warrenton Cannery, Bonge Avenue, Midway Beach, County Line and Twin Harbors Gap Road
Northern Shores Area
Ocean beach access: North Jetty, Taurus, Ocean Lake Way, Pacific, Chance A La Mer, Oyhut (Damon), Ocean City OBA, Roosevelt, Analyde Gap and Moclips.
The beach is a dynamic place, and a calm-looking ocean often can be misleading. Be aware of rip currents, tsunami evacuation procedures and, most of all, know your limits.
recreational activities in the SCA
- Beach walking
- Beach exploration
- Building sandcastles
- Clam digging
- Fat tire biking
- Geocaching (obtain permit from
- Glass float collecting
- Horseback riding
- Kite flying
- Metal detecting
- Sandcastle and sand-sculpture building
- Skim boarding
- Storm watching
- Sunset watching
- Whale watching
- Wind and sand sailing (in certain areas)
PLAN YOUR TRIP
Grays Harbor Convention and Visitors Bureau
PO Box 1229
Elma, WA 98541
Visit Long Beach Peninsula
3914 Pacific Way
Seaview, WA 98644
Willapa National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
3888 State Route 101
Ilwaco, WA 98624
Many of the rules and practices for recreating in Washington’s state parks also apply to recreating in the Seashore Conservation Area. However, some rules are different in the SCA, largely as a result of specific cooperative recreation management plans with Washington State Parks and local coastal jurisdictions established in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
- Unlicensed off-road vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and UTVs (utility vehicles), are not allowed on beaches in the SCA. (Exception: power-driven mobility devices use by persons with mobility disabilities are allowed on SCA beaches.)
- Beach Friendly Fourth – Every Fourth of July, Washington State Parks partners with local coastal towns and tourist organizations to make people aware of fireworks rules and to encourage visitors to keep the beach clean and safe for the public, wildlife and the environment.
- Camping/overnight parking is not allowed on beaches in the SCA.
- Closures — Washington State Parks may close portions of the SCA for a specified period of time for the protection of health, safety and welfare of the public, staff or park resources. For example, during the nesting season (March 15 – Sept. 30) of the western snowy plover, many beach areas are closed.
- Driving - The Seashore Conservation Area is a public highway. Driving on some beaches in the SCA is allowed year round, some sections are open only seasonally and others are closed year round. The maximum speed limit is 25 mph, and this applies to wind-powered vehicles as well. More about beach driving.
- Equestrian use is allowed. Within the SCA, equestrian traffic shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and vehicles. Horses should be ridden at a walk or lead through areas of heavy pedestrian use. Horses must stay on the hard sand and avoid clam beds.
- Fireworks are prohibited, except for specific dates, times and locations around the Fourth of July holiday.
- Garbage — Be kind to the environment, wildlife and other beachgoers, please pack out your trash. (You could get a ticket if you don’t!)
- Pedestrians have the right of way.
- Pets are allowed on the beach off leash, provided they are under the control of their owner. Please pick up your pet’s waste (including horses) and dispose of properly.
- Protection — Help protect beach, fragile dune habitat and wildlife.
- Recreational beach fires must be more than 100 feet from vegetation and no larger than 4x4x4 feet.
- Remote-controlled aircraft, including drones, may be allowed but by permit only. Learn more.
- Sandcastles / sand sculptures — Once you’ve created your masterpiece and are ready to leave the beach, please be sure to fill in any holes or depressions in the sand for the safety of visitors, wildlife and marine life.
- Wind-powered vehicles, including kite buggies, blo-karts and kite boards, are allowed in certain sections of the SCA. Learn more about when, where and how fast you can ride a wind-powered vehicle.
- Wildlife — Please don’t harass wildlife, and make sure your pet doesn’t either. You could get fined.
- Ocean beaches rules (WAC 352-37)
- Seashore Conservation Area (RCW 79A.05.600 – 695)
- Driving on beaches:
Where is vehicle traffic permitted?
Speed limits (including wind and sand sailing)
STEWARDSHIP & CONSERVATION
The ocean beaches are home to many species, from clams to shorebirds to marine mammals. Viewing wildlife in their natural habitats can be a fun learning experience. However, human activities can disturb animals, negatively affect habitat and result in injury to animals and people. Human (and pet) activity can cause birds to abandon nests, separate mothers and their young, disrupt migratory patterns and interfere with breeding and rearing. Many of the species you may see on the beach are protected by federal law.
Please share the beach with wildlife and follow these guidelines to help keep them from harm:
- Stay out of any areas that are marked as closed for the protection of wildlife.
- Do not offer food to wild animals.
- Pack out all trash.
- Prevent off-leash dogs from chasing birds or other wildlife.
- Seal and sea lion pups are often left alone while the mother feeds. They are not abandoned and should not be disturbed.
- Keep your distance from wild animals. If an animal starts to stare, fidget or flee, you are too close. People and pets should remain at least 100 yards (a football field length) away from seals and sea lions.
Protecting habitat and wildlife
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “Watching Marine Mammals”
- NOAA “Share the Shore with Harbor Seal Pups” (PDF)
- NOAA “No selfies with the seals” Shellfishing regulations (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Washington State Parks Southwest Region
Main number: (360) 725-9770
Long Beach Area State Parks
Northern Shores Area State Parks
South Beach Area State Parks