Mark your calendars. Discover Pass Free Day is coming! Sunday, March 19th is one of twelve days in 2023, when you can access Washington state parks for free. Take advantage of the Discover Pass Free Day and discover one of these beautiful Long Beach Peninsula state parks for free:
Cape Disappointment State Park
Bearing a name from a frustrated explorer who was unable to find the river’s entrance, Cape Disappointment is anything but. People come from miles around just to see the iconic imagery of this coastline. Dramatic 200-foot cliffs stand unmoved against an unrelenting sea. Wind and weather beat the rocks into a salty froth, as waves pummel the craggy borders.
Rich and primal vegetation consumes the land that the ocean can’t touch. Hike on trails over the damp underbrush to lookout points spanning the windswept peninsula. As you maneuver through the woods, don’t be surprised when you come across the ruins of old military bunkers. Stained with moss, the crumbled shelters once housed men of the Civil and second World War.
Two lighthouses act as beacons, and both can be easily hiked to. Cape Disappointment Lighthouse dates back to 1856. It was constructed to caution sailors of the unforgiving intersection of the Columbia River and the Pacific. And it now is known as Pacific Northwest’s oldest operating lighthouse. North Head Lighthouse followed in 1898. It turns out that the CD lighthouse simply wasn’t strong enough.
Their guiding lights cast a glow against some of the most treacherous coastline in the world. Known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, it’s estimated that more than 200 shipwrecks are buried beneath the briny depth. You can see the waterlogged remnants of some of them at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
Down by the Beach
Easy beach access can be had here as well. It isn’t unusual to see colorful kites taking flight from the sand. And you’ll see fishermen attempt to lure treasures from the sea off the North Jetty.
Spend your Discover Pass Free Day here and explore this Long Beach Peninsula landmark. With 2,023-acres to cover, you can easily spend the full day here and still not see everything.
Leadbetter Point State Park
Calling all bird lovers! If you’re a fan of feathered fowl, then fly over to Leadbetter Point State Park. Your Discover Pass Free Day will get you access to this avian state park. Nestled between Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean, this park is a mass of wetlands and marshes. It offers miles of beach on both the bay and ocean sides, giving two distinct experiences.
More than 100-species of birds call this sanctuary home. Majestic bald eagles make their perches here. You’ll see predatory falcons, big-throated pelicans, and the beloved snowy plover chick.
Journey along the ADA-friendly Martha Jordan Birding Trail. It leads to the Hines Marsh, where Trumpeter Swans settle in winter.
Leadbetter Point State Park also offers fishing and clamming opportunities (licenses required). If you’re wanting to go even further into the water, launch your kayak or canoe.
Long Beach Peninsula offers two amazing state parks for Discover Pass Free Day! Flip a coin or hit them both. Either way, you won’t be paying a dime.
By: Danelle Dodds
Danelle is an international traveler, road tripper, writer, and artist. She firmly believes in testing the limits of word count, mileage, and AYCE sushi.