Located in cozy little town of Chinook, on the long beach peninsula, between the Astoria Bridge and Ilwaco. The peninsula, known as one of the best in the country for razor clamming and surf fishing, has the longest beach expanse for driving in the world. This is truly a fishing camp, with Sturgeon and Salmon all within casting distance and a fully stocked tackle and bait store on site. The area offers one of the largest kite festivals in the world, boat rentals, beaches and great restaurants.
With its location on the banks of the Columbia River, Chinook served as the gateway for Capt. Robert Gray’s 1792 United States claim for all of the land drained by the river. The town was also an ideal camping spot for Lewis and Clark as they neared the end of their 2 year expedition to the Northwest.
Allow some time to visit the 600-acre Fort Columbia State Park, established as a military post during the Spanish-American War. You can take a self-guided tour past the historic installations and some of the 12 remaining structures in the fort as well as the museum. You can reflect on the past at nearby Cape Disappointment, where over the years more than 230 vessels have been shipwrecked. In spite of the jetties that have been constructed to control the sandbars, Cape Disappointment is still considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous river bars. The largest search and rescue facilities in Washington and the only heavy-weather Motor Lifeboat School for the Coast Guard are based at the Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station and Lighthouse.
Just to the north of the cape is Ilwaco, home of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center where the explorers’ 8,000-mile expedition is traced and artifacts they collected along their journey are exhibited. The Ilwaco Heritage Museum displays pioneer and Chinok Indian artifacts as well as Western and Native American art, some of which dates back to the frontier days in southwestern Washington. Consider chartering a boat from one of the piers in town. The waters near Ilwaco are regarded as excellent for deep-sea fishing.