Rain, schmrain—wet weather doesn't have to deter you from a beach trip. In fact, it can enhance it! Photo by tsparks.
March 2, 2017
Exploring the Washington coastline in winter can be, well…moist at best.
That doesn’t have to dampen the fun, though! If you enjoy dramatic scenery and light crowds, the beach in winter is a great, low-key day destination.
Griffith-Priday State Park is one of those perfect spots to discover the magic of the Washington coastline in winter! A long, flat stretch of sand and seagrass sandwiched between the Copalis River and the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Griffith-Priday is just a half hour outside of the storied city of Hoquiam. Whether you like hiking, beachcombing, studying migratory birds or just enjoying the drama of the storms that roll in off the steely ocean waters, this lesser known gem is well worth the drive.
Bonus: If you go out this weekend, why not stop in and enjoy some fun at the 30th Annual Beachcombers Fun Fair. The event is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 4-5, at the nearby Ocean Shores Convention Center. Enjoy games, vendors, children’s activities, beach exploration and much more!
Raingear and windbreakers on? Umbrella ready? Here’s the scoop on some fun winter activities you can try at this quiet, surfside park:
Wide, flat and vistas for miles—Griffith-Priday has excellent winter hikes. Photo by Will Merydith.
Griffith-Priday is a small park in acreage, but big on walkable shoreline! Stroll north up the wide, flat 1.5-mile saltwater shoreline until you reach the mouth of the Copalis River. The silver salmon that run this river are gone until next November, but you and the kids can observe the other sea life that flourish where the salt and fresh water collide. Just beyond is the Copalis Spit Natural Area. Bring your camera — you’ll want to capture the bald eagles, peregrine falcon and shore birds that call this wildlife refuge home—or home away from home for migratory birds! Then, turn south and cruise back along the low dunes and the 10,000 feet of river shore.
Bring your camera—you never know what treasures you will find high or low at Griffith-Priday! Photo by Sam W.
The Pacific Ocean is a lion in winter! All those storms and thundering tides bring all manner of fun things to the shore for observation. Search for purple shore crabs skittering among the kelp, and scope out live sand dollars wriggling in the shallows. Or, do your part and bring along a trash bag. All manner of interesting (and not so interesting) debris ends up on our beaches following a blow. Maybe you’ll find a rare glass float or message in a bottle while you help rid the beach of junk!
Canoeing and Kayaking
Can you canoe? Then so you should do! The Copalis River is a popular and pretty spot to take your kayak or canoe. Photo by tsparks.
Yearning to paddle? If the weather cooperates on a bright winter day you can drop your boat into the Copalis River. It’s cold out, so don’t forget your dry suit or at least a good wetsuit to prevent hypothermia in case of a dunking! For a treat, head up to the Ghost Forest! In late January of 1700, a massive earthquake launched a wave so enormouse that it drowned a 121-acre stand of red cedar trees 2 miles inland in salt water! The trees died, but their spectral husks still stand on the banks of the Copalis—a super day trip with eerie imagery.
Clam on, let's go! If you don't mind getting a little sandy, clamming is a satisfying and rewarding way to spend the day.
The Discover Passmust be displayed on your vehicle for day visits to Griffith-Priday State Park.
Located about 20 miles northwest of Hoquiam, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Grays Harbor County. From Hoquiam, go north on Highway 101 and then head left/west on Ocean Beach Road, which turns into Copalis Beach Road and dead ends at the park.
Want a handy map? Download one from the State Parks website.
Do you have a favorite beach state park you like to visit in the off season?
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