North Head Lighthouse, Ilwaco

4.7
#2 of 10 in Things to do in Ilwaco
North Head Lighthouse is an active aid to navigation overlooking the Pacific Ocean from North Head, a rocky promontory located approximately two miles north of Cape Disappointment and the mouth of the Columbia River, near Ilwaco, Pacific County, in the U.S. state of Washington. It is part of Cape Disappointment State Park.
The North Head Light was constructed in 1897 after mariners complained that the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, installed in 1856, was obscured to ships approaching from the north by the headland extending southwest from the light. The new lighthouse was designed by Carl Leick, with a 65ft tower set on a 130ft cliff directly facing the ocean and clearly visible to ships traveling from the north. Other buildings included two oil houses east of the lighthouse, a keeper’s residence, duplex housing for two assistant keepers, a barn, and outbuildings, all of which remain on site.
The first-order lens at the Cape Disappointment Light was moved to North Head and was first lit at its new location in 1898. In 1935, the first-order lens was replaced by a fourth-order lens. That lens was eventually replaced by an aerobeacon in the 1950s, and later by a modern optic mounted outside the tower. A Crous-Hinds aero marine beacon was put into use at the lighthouse August 1, 1961, and the light was automated in December of that year. A VRB-25 aerobeacon was installed in 1999. The original first-order lens is on display at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Cape Disappointment State Park. The fourth-order lens is exhibited at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon.
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North Head Lighthouse Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
187 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Beautiful lighthouse being restored to its original state though it looks great. About a 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot. Check out the overview walk too. We caught a calm day but it can get ver...  more »
  • One of many lighthouses accessible with an easy trail and great views over the water. The light still functions, however, is like many on an automated system.  more »
Google
  • The lighthouse is currently closed 01/2019 and I didn't see a date posted for the planned reopening, but it is still a fabulous, dramatically beautiful place to visit. It does require a Discover pass, and you can purchase one with a credit card only, either for a day or for the year in the parking lot. The walk is easy though a bit muddy in the winter so wear appropriate foot wear and bring a coat, you'll be glad you did.
  • The lighthouse is under construction but that didn’t stop us from walking down to see it and take in an epic sunset. There were lots of people doing the same. It’s a beautiful spot to enjoy the rugged coastline.

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