Enjoy summer — and a Beach Friendly Fourth — at coastal state parks

6.26 Beaches blog Westport surfer

Surfers enjoy hitting the waves any time of year along Washington’s coastal beaches.

June 26, 2019

When you think of summer fun, does your mind conjure up an ocean shore? Can you practically hear the pounding surf, smell the salty brine and feel the sand between your toes?

If you answered “yes,” make the Washington coast your next getaway!

Washington State Parks manages 60 miles of protected public beaches on the Pacific Ocean, making it the perfect escape for a day, a weekend or a road trip adventure.

Summer fun:

Think kite flying and wave hopping. Think sunsets with your sweetie. Think wet sandy kids and dogs (but so worth it). Think wide sands and grass-tufted dunes.

Now that your vision is complete, it’s time to start planning…

6.26 Beaches blog Cape Disappointment NHeadresidences

The historic lighthouse keepers’ residences at Cape Disappointment State Park are unique places to stay the night.

Stay and play, south to north:

Cape Disappointment State Park overlooks the spot where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, historic lighthouses, viewpoints and hiking trails make this a destination. Tent and RV sites, yurts, cabins and lightkeepers’ residences mean it’s easy to stay overnight.

Grayland Beach State Park is a hit with the RV crowd. It also has 16 yurts, (10 ADA compliant) and campsites a dune’s walk from the ocean. Spread out your picnic on the beach and relax.

Twin Harbors State Park offers tent and RV sites, yurts and rustic cabins. (ADA compliant and pet friendly.) The woodsy campground has a social atmosphere and is a short walk to the beach.

Ocean City State Park offers a modified back-to-nature experience with tent, RV and group camping close to the city of Ocean Shores. Kick back at this kid-friendly beach, or run into town for some shopping.

Pacific Beach State Park is proof that good things come in small packages. This 17-acre park has 20 campsites, 41 RV sites and two yurts. Make a small bonfire (100 feet from dunes and vegetation, please), toast up some s’mores and watch the sun sink below the horizon.

6.26 Beaches blog Griffiths-Priday connorcreek3

Griffiths-Priday State Park sits on the outlet of a river and creek, which allows for saltwater and freshwater fishing and a fascinating riparian habitat.

Side or day trips, south to north:

Pacific Pines State ParkThis tiny day-use park sits on the Long Beach Peninsula, with its small towns and famous cranberry bogs. Stop for a picnic, and let the kids run around.

Leadbetter Point State Park: Birds, birds and more birds! Walk among the shore birds, or kayak, canoe or SUP in Willapa Bay. Check tides and weather first and bring some insect repellent — the mosquitoes are abundant in summer.

Bottle Beach State Park: Take the ADA-compliant trail through a coastal wetland. A million migratory birds alight here each year. At low tide, the ruined dock at Ocosta is visible. Ocosta, an early 20th Century boomtown, disappeared in the 1950s.

Westport Light State Park: Surf’s up, and Westport is a cold-water surfing hub. Even if that’s not your jam, the sport is still thrilling to watch. Tour Grays Harbor Lighthouse, and climb the tight spiral staircase to the tallest lighthouse in Washington.

Griffiths-Priday State Park: Unique among beach parks, Griffiths-Priday sits on the lush Copalis River outlet. Renowned for razor clamming in season, the park offers freshwater and saltwater fishing.

6.26 Beaches blog Ocean City sunset

July Fourth festivities begin when the daylight ends! Please follow the legal hours and rules listed below to ensure a safe, happy Fourth for everyone.

Have a Beach Friendly Fourth of July

For many west coasters, July Fourth is synonymous with the beach. Coastal state park rangers welcome visitors and ask that everyone follow laws regarding fireworks (only at certain parks at certain times). Beach camping is prohibited. Bonfires on the beach are allowed but must be 100 feet from dunes and vegetation.

Legal fireworks may be discharged during the following hours on most of the Long Beach Peninsula and South Grays Harbor County beaches:

♦ June 28: noon to 11 p.m.
♦ June 29 to July: 3-9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
♦ July 4: 9 a.m. to midnight
♦ July 5: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

A notable exception is the city of Ocean Shores, which has reduced area fireworks hours, which are only allowed on the beach between Damon Road and Marine View Drive:

♦ July 2-3: noon to 11 p.m.
♦ July 4: noon to midnight               

Driving on the beach can be fun, but wet sand and incoming tides trap vehicles, and rescues are not guaranteed.

This year, high tide is at 2 a.m. on July 5. Staff and volunteers won’t have time to collect garbage following the festivities. Help keep trash off the beaches and out of the ocean by using the extra dumpsters! Soak discharged fireworks in water before transporting or throwing them away.

Do you have a state parks story to tell? 
Tell us about it and share your photos here!