Lights of the Columbia

Oregon / Washington
May 27, 2005


I had to travel to Hillsboro, Oregon for work back in May. The meeting that I was attending ended on Friday at noon. Given that my flight wasn't leaving until Saturday, I decided to do some sightseeing. I decided to make the 60 mile trek out Route 26 to the ocean. I had my work laptop with me where I had a few lighthouses mapped out in Map Point. After deciding which ones I had time to see, it was North on Highway 101.

From Seaside, it was 15-20 miles north up Highway 101 to Astoria to see the Columbia Lightship. At the point where Highway 101 heads north over the Columbia River, you want to follow Highway 30, which turns into Marine Drive. This is where the Columbia River Maritime Museum is located. At the time I was there, the museum and lightship where open to the public, but given my lack of time, I opted to take a few pictures of the exterior of the lightship, and then continue on my journey. If I ever get back out there, I would definitely opt to visit the museum.

So from here, it was back westerly on Highway 30 to Highway 101. I headed north into Washington State. It was about another 15-20 miles north until I reached Ilwaco, Washington. I was hading to Cape Disappointment State Park. (Sometimes still called Fort Canby State Park.)

Once I entered the town of Ilwaco, Highway 101 became Spruce Street. I headed into the park on North Head Road. Once in the park, I easily followed the signs to the North Head Lighthouse. I parked the rental, and paid the $5.00 parking fee at the pay post. From here it was about a quarter mile walk down a path to the lighthouse. Along this path, there were spectacular views of the Pacific.

To my surprise, the lighthouse was open for visitation. Upon entering the lighthouse, the main area at the base of the tower was being used by the volunteers to give some history of the lighthouse, and to collect the fees for climbing the tower. While I was there, the fee was $1.00. Once the previous group came down, a volunteer led us up the 69 steps to the top and told us some of the history of the tower.

From here, I learned that Cape Disappointment lighthouse was a mere two miles away in the same park. However, this lighthouse was not open to the public, but you were able to walk up and photograph it. The volunteer gave me a map of the park, and showed me how to get to the other parking area. Given that the lighthouses were in the same park, the parking pass was good at the other parking area.

Once at the other parking area, there was a path leading into the woods that said "lighthouse." So I grabbed my digital camera bag, and off I went. This time, there was about a 3/4-mile hike to the lighthouse. After following the path for several minutes, I emerged at the entrance to the Coast Guard Station. A quick look around revealed that I had to follow the two track path up to the top of the hill. After walking up this steep grade for a few minutes, I sure was glad that I started working out. But once at the top of the hill, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse came into view. After taking several photographs and looking around, it was time to start heading back as it was getting late.

After this, I took Highway 100 back to Highway 101, and headed south. From here, it was about 30-40 miles back to Seaside. I took one last look at my Map Point program, and realized that Tillamook Rock was visible from a Park off of 101 about 6 miles past Highway 26. So I opted for one last stop given that it was so close.

From 101 South, I followed signs for Ecola State Park. There was a $3.00 fee to enter the park which was generated at an ATM-like machine. So, I paid my fee, and headed into the park. immediately inside the gate, I was given a choice to head left or right. Seeing as I could see the ocean from the left hand side, I followed that road. It took me a short distance to a parking area. From here, I got out and walked the path up to a viewing point. From here, I could see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. I took several pictures of this lighthouse, but unfortunately given that it is several miles off-shore, the pictures aren't the best. Had I known that I was going to get this opportunity to do some lighthouse sightseeing, I would have brought my SLR camera with my 1000mm telephoto lens.

From here, I left the park, and headed North on Highway 101. Then I took Highway 26 East back to Hillsboro. It was close to 9pm by the time I arrived back in town. All in all, it was well worth it.

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