Cape Disappointment State Park on the Long Beach Peninsula–Our Favorite Place to Visit!
August 13, 2011 by: Susan Goldsmith
Bill and I just returned from our brief weekly disappearing act to eat Serious Pizza at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco on the Long Beach, Washington Peninsula. First of all, this park is NOT a disappointment–it is our favorite Washington State Park. It was named “Cape Disappointment” because in 1788, Captain John Meares, a fur trader, was disappointed because this was not the opening to the river–and is, in fact, is located just north of the infamous Mouth of the Columbia River! Cape Disappointment is also home to the National Park housing Maya Lin’s “Confluence Project” honoring the Indian tribes Lewis and Clark encountered at the confluences of the rivers on their journey west. Captain Clark and 11 of the “Corps of Discovery” hiked all over the land that is now Cape Disappointment State Park and from McKenzie Head, saw their first panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean! Then they proceeded to hike north up the Peninsula, right across the property that is now Boreas Inn, located on the 1805 high water mark. So you get to sleep right on the Lewis and Clark Trail!
Of course, one of the most scenic parts of the Park are the two lighthouses, The North Head Lighthouse and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. The North Head is easily explored by parking in the lot and walking down to the lighthouse on a road alongside the rock face overlooking the Pacific Ocean and just north of Benson Beach. This is a place to linger. All day. The waves, huge in the winter but omnipresent, are hypnotic. The color of the water seems to change from blue to green to gray in a storm, but always a stunning contrast with the white tips of the peaks of the waves. Whale watching from the North Head is often rewarding. We look for the clumps of kelp offshore and occasionally see the spouts. The pelicans, eagles, many varieties of gulls, terns and a huge array of seabirds make this spot make for some of the best birdwatching in the West. Cape D lighthouse is a hike from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (in winter and anytime, the best view of the Mouth of the Columbia and the jetties), around Dead Man’s Cove. Our guests come from around the world to see these two lighthouses, within miles of Boreas!
I mentioned Serious Pizza! Well–seriously now, take the combination of a wood-fired pizza oven, burning cherry and apple, the “00 fino” flour imported from Italy, imported cheeses, meats from a great Seattle butcher chop and a location at Waikiki Beach at Cape D (as we call it), and you have not only the recipe for the best wood-fired pizza in Southwest Washington, but a spectacular setting near the amphitheater at Cape D State Park. With eagles flying overhead (perhaps looking hungrily at your pizza-or maybe at your dog) and osprey circling around with crows and gulls harrassing them, you have an experience you will never forget. Our favorite pizza is, you guessed it, “The Boreas”–the vegetarian pizza with garlic olive oil base, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and pepperoni. How special is it to have a pizza named after Boreas Inn? State Parks built Jim and Chi, the purveyors of this fine pizza, a permanent structure so that visitors to the park, including campers staying in the 240 campsites, can have pizza! We call ahead to avoid waiting perhaps an hour for the most memorable pizza. It’s truly Neopolitano–a thin delectable crust and just the right amount of cheese for a non-guilt producing light meal. They also have wood-fired oysters and mouth-watering wood-fired wings. Homemade ice cream and brownies….oh my! Watch for Jim and Chi’s Serious Pizza to come soon to the town of Long Beach!
I have attached a very fine video about Cape Disappointment State Park to this blog! It stars a few of our favorite State Park employees and some of the best scenery this area has to offer. The Park is located 10 minutes from Boreas Inn. We are soooo lucky to have Cape D State Park in our backyard. So come to Boreas Inn and we will direct you to our favorite park, Cape Disappointment! Enjoy the YouTube about Cape D.!