Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids

Now that we’ve camped at Cape Disappointment twice, I’ve decided to update and add on to our blog post with a few more places to visit in the area. Any new information has been italicized. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Earlier in the year, my husband and I discussed taking the girls camping over the summer. Right away, I started to look up different campgrounds around Washington State and two of the most popular sites were Kalaloch (which ended up being our first camping trip back in July) and Cape Disappointment. Both were known for their beautiful views and both took reservations. I love any excuse to be by the ocean so I hurried and booked a camping site for a weekend each in the summer.

Kalaloch was such a success and we were excited to take our girls to the next camping site at Cape Disappointment a month later. This time we only stayed 1 night, but it was still a really great trip.

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids
Such a spacious campground! Perfect for all sorts of adventures for these girls.

Cape Disappointment has such a funny name for how beautiful the area is! I looked it up and according to the state park’s website, the cape was named by English Captain John Meares in 1778 who came to the area but was unable to find the entrance to the {Columbia} river. In 1792, American Captain Robert Gray crossed the river’s bar and named the river “Columbia” after his ship. Then, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at Cape Disappointment after completing their 18-month journey. It’s a very historical area and we really enjoyed learning more while we were there.

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids
Walking the trail down to the beach

Cape Disappointment Campground and Beach

We booked our campsite online back in March (spots fill up quickly for summer!). The campground is part of a state park and has a wide variety of campsites (including yurts that you can rent out!).

Our campsite was specifically for tent camping and had no hook ups. We stayed at site 166 at Campground C. It was an amazing site! It was much bigger than our site at Kalaloch and offered plenty of room for the girls to safely run around while we set up the tent and got dinner ready. Right behind our site, past the huge wall of driftwood, was the ocean! While we couldn’t see it very well, we could definitely hear it and I loved going asleep to the sound of the waves.

Camping Cape Disappointment with KidsCamping Cape Disappointment with KidsWe had a fairly simple dinner of beef and veggie kabobs and then headed down the trail to check out the beach.

The beach was beautiful and had plenty of driftwood to play on. My only concern was all the little sand fleas or flies that seemed to be jumping all around us. They seemed harmless and none of us got any bites (but we were also completely bundled up for the evening). I never did figure out exactly what kind of bugs they were, but it was a bit unsettling seeing them hopping around us as we walked.

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids
Loving that sunset!

And of course, we finished our evening strong by making plenty of s’mores. 🙂

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids

More recently, we camped and finally got try out one of the yurts. It was a great way to camp, especially since it rained a bit while we were there. The yurt had 1 bunk bed (a twin on top and a queen on bottom) and a futon. It also had a small table with chairs and a little space heater. Outside there was a picnic table and a fire pit. It was all very cozy and a fun, new way for our family to camp.


Waikiki Beach

The next morning after we packed up everything at our campsite, we drove down to a little beach called Waikiki. It was a bit chilly, even with it being August, so we made sure to wear long sleeves (although there were several locals in swimsuits swimming in the water too). The girls loved playing in the sand and in the little stream of ocean water. There were no sand fleas or whatever those bugs were and would be such a great place to bring a picnic lunch!

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids

I also want to add that this is a great beach to play with all the driftwood! On our recent trip, we loved playing on a little see-saw and checking out a teepee that someone else had built. 

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

After the beach, we met up with some friends over at the Interpretive Center. Right outside are some old WWII bunkers that the kids loved running around and exploring. The center itself was great and had little interactive stations for kids throughout.

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids
Exploring the old bunker
Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids
Learning more about the animals Lewis and Clark would have seen on their expedition.

Deadman’s Cove

One place that I had really wanted to visit on our first trip was Deadman’s Cove, but the trail had been closed back then. It recently reopened and we took full advantage. We headed down fairly early in the morning and had the entire beach to ourselves.


Deadman’s Cove was named for all the shipwrecks that used to happen in the area. Nowadays though, it’s a beautiful and peaceful spot along the trail to the Cape Disappointment lighthouse. 



Our kids had a blast exploring the driftwood (where they found an excellent fort already built for them) and pretending that they were in Neverland (a floating tree trunk made an excellent crocodile). While it is a bit tricky to get down to, it was well worth the visit. There’s also an overlook with pretty views though too. 

Close to when we were leaving, a nice family took a quick picture of us that I just love. This has been my favorite location in Cape Disappointment so far!


Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

From the parking lot of the Interpretive center, one can take a short hike to Cape Disappointment lighthouse (with a stop at Deadman’s cove on the way of course). The views are beautiful and it was a great spot to stop and have a little snack. It’s not open to the public at all, but still worth the walk up.


North Head Lighthouse

I had really wanted to hike from the Interpretive Center to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, but the women working at the front desk highly discouraged us from going after explaining how difficult of a trail it could be (especially with kids) and the lack of pretty views. So, we decided to drive over to North Head Lighthouse instead and take a much shorter walk down to there.

Camping Cape Disappointment with Kids
That view!

Unfortunately, the parking lot was very crowded and Aaron left us at the head of the trail while he circled around to try and find parking. We also happened to leave our jackets in the car and it was much cooler at this point high on the bluff! So what should have been a leisurely walk enjoying gorgeous views of the coast, ended up with me trying to calm down two very cold and tired kids who didn’t want to walk much more at that point.  Oh well. The lighthouse and views were still beautiful and next time we’ll make sure to be better prepared with jackets!

Camping Cape Disappointment with KidsCamping Cape Disappointment with Kids

Our most recent visit to Northhead Lighthouse went much smoother than last time! We came in the evening on our first night camping and only one other car was in the parking lot. The walk was pleasant and we were all properly dressed. 🙂 


Beard’s Hollow

Another new spot that we visit this trip was Beard’s Hollow Beach. I had read online about how great the tide pools were there and wanted to check it out. It’s a bit of a hike down to the beach from the parking lot, but the walk is paved and has pretty views. Once you reach the beach, there’s a spur path that takes you out onto the sand. From here we walked down to the rocks with hopes of finding tide pools. While all we saw was one starfish, the kids still had a great time playing around the rocks and the water.


Bonus: Fort Clatsop

As a little bonus stop, we went by Fort Clatsop in Oregon on a roundabout way home. This is where Lewis and Clark stayed for a winter and there’s a replica fort built for visitors to explore. It was great to check out and I’m happy we decided to stop by. The kids also earned a Junior Ranger badge and patch each, which they always love. 


Both visits to Cape Disappointment have been wonderful. We love camping with our kids and exploring nature while learning about our state’s history. It’s definitely worth a visit and I’m sure we’ll be back again soon!

What are some of your favorite places to camp with kids? Any other WA campground recommendations that we can try out next summer?

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