Towards evening we arrived at Cape disapointment on the Sea Shore. went over a bald hill where we had a handsom view of the ocean”
John Ordway Nov 1805

A rare sun halo on the beach

A rare sun halo on a fine afternoon

A happy doggy on an empty beach

A happy doggy on an empty beach

There are few places on the west coast where the threads of history and nature so intimately intertwine as right here at Cape Disappointment State Park. Our home for the past 2 weeks (can you believe it’s been 2 weeks already?) has lived up to it’s reputation of foul weather, handsome allure and tales of stories past. At times we start the day shrouded in misty fog and thunderous waves followed just a few hours later by brilliant sunshine and placid tides. The Cape is not one thing but many things blended together in an exotic stew. She is temperamental, complex and sweet all at the same time. Oh, how I love it here!

This is not my first time so enamored. We visited this very spot last year capturing some of my best beach shots of the summer. That week was enough to cement the Cape in my mind and spark the urge to return. Since we’ve been back we’ve enjoyed plentiful days of sun (well amongst a few torrents of rain, naturally) enabling us to walk the trails up the basalt cliffs and enjoy the many miles of beach on the shores. Between morning strolls on the protected cove just minutes from our RV, afternoons hikes on the trails and evening promenades along the larger beach we’ve really not had the urge to go anywhere else. Despite the fact that this is one of the most popular state parks in WA (or so they say), most of the beach and trail areas are almost completely deserted. It astounds me, but I’ve watched the sunset from 2-mile Benson Beach and been the only person there. Did I mention I loved it here?

Wild waves on my solo sunset

Wild waves front a lonely sunset

Our new neighbors...

Our new neighbors…

The very fact that nature is so raw here may be part of what keeps this place so isolated. The terrifying coastline has claimed over 2,000 ships in the past 300 years earning itself the nickname of “Graveyard of the Pacific“. Weather systems are ferocious creating over 7 feet of rain in winter and 100 days of fog in summer. At the mouth of the Columbia River massive volumes of out-flowing water collide with North Pacific sea to create one of the most dangerous and challenging navigated stretches of water in the world. This lady is tough and she is NOT to be trifled with. Her superbly dangerous shores are the very reason not just one, but two lighthouses have been placed along this Cape -> the fine old Cape Disappointment Lighthouse (1856 – the oldest in WA) and our very own North Head Lighthouse (1898). It gives the Cape a special allure not seen anywhere else.

And then there’s the other history which only adds to the charm of the place. In 1805 this very spot held the marvel of Lewis and Clark who finally reached the Pacific Ocean on their difficult expedition to map the passage to the west. It was a historic moment which is recorded along several of the trails in the park dedicated to their journey as well as the most excellent Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center atop the cliffs overlooking Waikiki Beach. Interspersed amongst these pieces of history are the remains of Fort Canby, one of three fortifications developed to protect the Columbia River. Old batteries, remnants of barracks and mossy foundations are sprinkled all over the park.

A very pink sunset over Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

A very pink sunset silhouettes Cape D Lighthouse

Of course it helps that this is the start of the best part of the year to be here too. The Cape is green with summer, bursting with flower and wildlife is teeming everywhere. We’ve sighted baby deer, coyote’s, lizards and no end of birds. Plus we’ve been into town to buy local salmon (caught the day before…like butter baby) and snag super-fresh veggies from the three nearby Farmer’s Markets (nothing compares to the spicy tang of fresh arugula…oh my). Oh yeah, and we’ve had two sets of lovely blog readers visit too (totally forgot to take pics, sorry).

With everything there is to offer here I can only imagine the next two weeks are going to fly by. The wild nature of the Cape has us in her handsome snare and we are more than happy to surrender to her charms. Cape D as they call her, most definitely does not…..oh, and did I mention I love it here?

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56 Responses to Cape Disappointment, WA – It Most Definitely Does Not…

  1. SallyB says:

    WoW ……. Beautiful and magical, all at the same time !!!!! The flowers, the berries, the sky, the water, what a wonderland !!!! I think you two hit the jackpot …. Enjoy every minute of it ….

    • libertatemamo says:

      We feel pretty darn lucky to spend our summer months on the PNW Coast. We love the cooler weather and don’t mind the occasional rain :)


  2. Gaelyn says:

    The crashing of waves on a wild coast carries a powerful energy to fill the soul. Am so jealous about the fresh fruit and vegies.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Beautifully put Gaelyn. And yes, we sure feel lucky to have access to so many great farmers markets and produce. Makes the summer months even better.


  3. Pam says:

    Nina, love the blogs. We live in Or and can never seem to be able to get a spot at Cape D. How early do you book your RV spot (we have a 45′ RV/bus) and need 50 amp. What spots do you recommend for our size (similar to your size RV)?
    Thanks for the info

    • libertatemamo says:

      When we booked last year we did it the first day the beach-side sites opened up for booking for the summer season. I believe it was around April…and we booked for June. The place books up fast, but you can sometimes catch last-minute cancellations too. Any one of the FHU sites here will fit you.


  4. Rowanova says:

    I absolutely knew you two were gonna love it there. That area of the state has always been one of my favorites. I’ve never been bored with it, nor grown tired of it. And the fresh seafoods and produce make it all the better too. Gotta love it!
    You’ve described a lot of the reasons I’m so fond of this place too. I couldn’t agree more.
    If birds are your thing, drive all the way to the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula to Leadbetter State Park. There are plenty of trails thru the woods and to the shore lines, with a lot of bird watching. If not a birder, (like me) it is still an awesome place to get out into nature in a rare and special place. And usually weren’t a lot of people there either.
    Have Fun!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’ve heard a lot about Leadbetter State Park and have wanted to go, but have been scared off by the mosquitoes. Some of the other hosts went last week and said the bugs are currently thick as clouds up there. It looks like an amazing spot though.

      And totally agree about never getting bored here. We keep discovering new coves, views and trails too. Amazing park.


      • Rowanova says:

        Lol! I’d forgotten how bad the bugs can get up at Leadbetter. Maybe an appropriate day will present itself before you leave. I’ll cross my fingers for ya. :)

  5. DebbieM says:

    LOVE the wild waves picture!! Can’t wait to get back up to that area!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Can you believe that was the day I watched the sunset on my own? No one else there at all. It was magical.


  6. hobopals says:

    From personal experience and other sources I think the Columbia River is the most exciting river in the country. I could be in that area for years and never be bored for a minute. Everything considered, it’s my favorite place. What a life you lead, and what makes me happy about that is that you never forget to say how you appreciate it and how you live it to its fullest. I love reading your blog.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The Columbia is just amazing. There’s a good reason this the considered the most dangerous bar crossing in the world. Terrifying and fascinating at the same time.

      And indeed I really do try to appreciate life. I know only too well how delicate it can be. These moments are precious indeed.


  7. Janna says:

    Yep, I can feel spray and dampness just reading your blog–your excitement is so evident! Enjoy your last two weeks Nina and Paul–

    • libertatemamo says:

      It’s definitely on the moist side LOL. Part of what we love about the coast. Our skin is plumping up again after our many dry months in the desert.


  8. Jodee Gravel says:

    Love the Saint Paul (or is it Polly?) picture! Without the crowds it must feel like it did when that history was taking place – dangerous and invigorating, and unique to any other spot. So glad you came back – because I think you really love it there :-).

    • libertatemamo says:

      Exactly….you captured my thoughts perfectly. When I’m in places like this I often think back and imagine what it was like for those very first explorers, and without the crowds the imagination can run freely.


  9. Ingrid says:

    Sounds like one month may not be long enough….enjoy!

  10. Beartracksblog says:

    We hope to get up there someday. Beautiful pictures! It looks so rugged and natural – love it!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Indeed. This is a particularly rugged portion of the WA coast. Part of the reason it’s so dangerous…and beatiful.


  11. Chuck says:

    I literally chuckled out loud with the pleasure of reading your words, “Oh, how I love it here!” Great job of writing posts, and this one especially! Thank you. [From a Washingtonian RVer who lives near Seattle.]

  12. You definitely bring out the beauty in this area. One of these days we will get to the coast with the MH. I do love the cliffs and crashing waves.

  13. Maverick says:

    You guys love it there…I can only imagine how awestruck Lewis and Clark’s team felt when they saw it for the first time.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Definitely. I try to imagine their thoughts as we walk some of the trails they trod here. Must have been something else.


  14. Sherry says:

    Nothing is finer than the raw beauty you have there. I’m convinced, I need to spend my summers on the PNW coast. Want to plan my itinerary? :-) I know I will just love it there too.

  15. This might be my favorite post of all that I have read. Lovely photos.

  16. Susan Copeland says:

    Just love hearing ypur stories. Our house is on the market and the RV ready to go at a moments notice! Excited for our adventure to come and you motivate me to keep up with all the preparation and planning! Thank! Looking forward to meeting you some day as that we also LOVE the Or/Wa coast. Going to Gold Beach next month and Winchester Bay in Sep!!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Congrats on your upcoming adventures! Gold Beach and Winchester Bay are both wonderful spots. Hope the weather holds for you.


  17. BadKat says:

    What a wonderful life..we all cherish glad we took the leap also.

  18. LuAnn says:

    When I look back at our time at Cape Disappointment, I think it was some of the best days we spent on the coast, although way too short. We loved the L&C interpretive center and the trails in the area. Some of my favorite shots of the coastline were taken there. You are giving us many ideas for volunteering once we get back out west. Thanks for the great post and stunning photos.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The crazy cliffs and weather do make for exciting photography here. No two days are ever the same.


  19. I can hear the sizzle of the sun as it sets beyond the crashing waves. What a stunning photo. You are an amazing writer. Thank you again for inspiring us and sharing your adventures.

  20. Suzanne says:

    I am waving at you tonight from across the river at Fort Stevens…so close, yet so far! Stunning photos, as always…

  21. Beth says:

    Love, love, love Cape Disappointment! When we were there in 2007 (site 8, path to the beach from our site) we did not want to leave. If we didn’t have to drive all the way across the country to get there we would return every year! Thanks for this post about one of our favorite places.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Site #8 is a sweet spot. Those beach-front sites are fabulous. We managed to snag one last year. I loved being able to stumble out of bed and walk 10 feet to the beach. We’re a tad further in our host site, but not by much. About a minutes walk to get to the closest beach from our rig.


  22. Joanne says:

    Nina & Paul,

    Having lived in Florida all my life, I’ve long wished I could be in the PNW instead. A two-week vacation in Oregon in 2009 confirmed that it was the place my heart wanted to be (maybe not during the long rainy winters though:-)). I’d much rather be walking on a stormy gray lonely beach than baking on a sunny tropical one. So when we finally start full-timing in 2015-16, that’s where we’ll be making a beeline. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your posts in the meantime.

    Talking about the early explorers, if you’re Kindle readers, you might check out a recently published book called “Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival.” (I’m currently on the library’s waiting list for it.) It’s a true adventure story of the John Astor 1810 expedition to establish a colony in the PNW coast and open what later would become the Oregon trail. It sounds really good!


    • libertatemamo says:

      Funny you should mention it. We JUST downloaded that very book this past week. Paul’s already finished it and really enjoyed it. I’m next :)

      And I’m totally with you on those stormy beaches. I’m not much of a beach baker, so I would much rather hike along a rugged cool coastline than sit on a hot beach.


  23. Although we visited at the cape for a day we were not disappointed. It was also very quiet when we got there sometime late May. Perhaps the crowd arrives this summer.
    How time flies, two weeks out of the way.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I gather May & June are kinda quiet and things get crazier in July & Aug. It’s really been quite nice here. The weekends have been full, but the weekdays are slower & many days we’ve had the beach to ourselves.


  24. Suzanne says:

    Hi, guys…I am across the river in Astoria for the work week, planning to come across the bridge on Friday for the last of my “Lighthouse Love” for a while. I hope you guys will be working Fri or Sat? I can’t imagine a better finale than a tour hosted by a couple of my favorite bloggers!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh cool! Yes, we are hosting both days on the afternoon shift (1:30-5:00pm). Last tour is around 4:45pm. If you want to hang out after, come for the last tour and we’ll spend some time after we close up. Can’t wait to finally meet you. Lighthouse nuts unite!


  25. Brenda says:

    Beautiful! Love the sunset photo of Cape D, the flowers, the strawberries and, of course, Polly!

  26. Lorraine says:

    We have camped there since 1980. It is beautiful. Even when it is full it does not seem crowded. The music venues at Waikiki Beach are fun. All in all one of the best campgrounds in Washington (except for the trails in the woods when the Mosquitos are out).

    • libertatemamo says:

      We just attended one of the free concerts on the beach last week. What a treat! Mosquitoes haven’t been too bad (so far). There are a few around, but they’ve been tolerable.


  27. Pam says:

    Hi Nina!
    We just returned from Cape Disappointment! Walked up to the lighthouse, then drove campground and found your Beast but no one was home :( I wanted to meet you and say thanks for all the good information. We took your advice a few months ago and really enjoyed Valley of Fire! Thanks!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh, sorry to miss you. We were out all afternoon today. Didn’t get back to the rig until early evening. Glad you got to see the lighthouse.


  28. […] on our heels we commenced our WA coast discovery, another brand new route for us. From beautiful Cape Disappointment we followed the ocean to the fishing village of Westport, the remote (and humid) gorgeousness of […]

  29. […] to Cape Disappointment as Lighthouse Hosts. Again, no surprises for regular readers. This spot totally absorbed us last year and we’re looking forward to an extended stay this time around so we can totally immerse […]

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