Lighthouse day 1

Washington's coastal and island lighthouses

Picture yourself on a cliff above a turbulent seascape with a beaming lighthouse at your back. Washington enjoys a wild coastline and a rich maritime heritage. The state is home to 21 lighthouses, nearly half of them in and around state parks. So, pick your park or parks, plan a trip and find the lighthouses of your dreams.

Admiralty Head Lighthouse — Fort Casey Historical State Park

Fans of Italianate Revival architecture will love Admiralty Head Lighthouse (pictured in banner photo). The tower sits high above sea level and glows pink at sunset. Located in Fort Casey Historical State Park on Whidbey Island, the area comes alive with military and maritime history. When you're done taking pictures, peek into the small museum/gift shop.

  • Put into service: Current building 1903; originally built in 1861
  • Automated: no lens
  • Height: 30 feet
  • Tours: Offered by volunteers on summer weekends; check with park staff: (360) 678-4519

Cape Disappointment and North Head Lighthouses — Cape Disappointment State Park

A closeup of the time and weather-worn outside of the lamp room of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse's façade includes intricate metalwork.
The top portion of Grays Harbor Lighthouse with evergreens and a blue sky in the background
Grays Harbor Light peeks out from behind the trees.

At Cape Disappointment State Park, you'll get two lighthouses for the price of one.

The southernmost Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is the oldest in Washington, built in 1856, near the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. The tall, elegant North Head Lighthouse came later as a way to make the foreboding cliffs at the mouth of the Columbia more obvious to ships sailing in from the north.

Make sure to gaze up at Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from Waikiki Beach, and at North Head Lighthouse from Benson Beach.

Curious about lightkeepers' lives? Rent the North Head light keeper's or assistant light keeper's residence for your group of up to six people and have the place to yourselves overnight.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse facts:

  • Put into service: 1856
  • Automated: 1962
  • Height: 53 feet
  • Claim to fame: The oldest lighthouse in the Pacific Northwest
  • Tours: Viewable from exterior.

North Head Lighthouse facts:

  • Put into service: 1898
  • Automated: 1961
  • Height: 65 feet
  • Claim to fame: The most intact light station in the Pacific Northwest
  • Tours: Open daily to visitors 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 1 to Sept. 24. Tour admission is $3 per adult and free for ages 7 to 17. Children under the age of seven are not permitted. Appropriate footwear is required, no flip flops or shoes without heel straps. Federal and state passes are not accepted for admission. Call the center at (360) 642-3029 for more information.

A long shot of North Head Lighthouse atop a green, rocky cliff with birds soaring above it in a gray sky
North Head Lighthouse stands high on a cliff, as seen from Benson Beach below

Grays Harbor Lighthouse — adjacent to Westport Light State Park

Rising out of an evergreen thicket, the Grays Harbor Lighthouse is tall and thin, and it sits one block from Westport Light State Park. Climb the tower's tight spiral staircase in season, and walk the park's beach path through yellow grasses that wave in the breeze.

Grays Harbor Lighthouse facts:

  • Put into service: 1898
  • Automated: 1933
  • Height: 107 feet
  • Tours: Offered seasonally; check with park staff: (360) 268-9717

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse — Lime Kiln Point State Park

Lighthouse Day 5
Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse offers spectacular sunsets, whale watching and more

The Lime Kiln Point lighthouse on San Juan Island offers dramatic sunsets and is considered one of the best land-based whale watching spots on earth, On summer weekends, kayakers share the shoreline with the whales, and crowds throng the bluff. Cheers go up whenever a whale blows or breaches.

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse facts:

  • Put into service: 1919
  • Automated: 1962
  • Height: 38 feet
  • Claim to fame: Whale watching, May to Sept.
  • Tours: Offered from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends; check with park staff: (360) 378-2044

Marrowstone Point Lighthouse — Adjacent to Fort Flagler Historical State Park

Sheltered by a huddle of red-roofed buildings, Marrowstone Point is not your typical lighthouse. The original 1888 light is an empty shell, while the light shines from a squat newer building beside it. A short jaunt from Camp Richmond at Fort Flagler Historical State Park, or a beach walk to the northeastern point of the island will get you to this unique light.

Marrowstone Point Lighthouse facts:

  • Put into service: Current building 1918, original 1888
  • Automated: 1962
  • Height: 20 feet

A long distance shot of Patos Island Lighthouse, a classic red and white lighthouse at the end of a long path once used to bring oil and kerosene to the lighthouse. A woman in a sweatshirt is walking toward the camera. Light brown shrubs line either side of the cement pat and there light clouds in the blue sky beyond the lighthouse.
The Patos Island Lighthouse in the San Juan Island chain is the northernmost lighthouse in Washington, accessible only by boat and then by foot.

Patos Island Lighthouse — Patos Island Marine State Park

Take a boat or a kayak to Patos Island in the northern San Juan islands, and stroll through the forest to Patos Island Lighthouse. Between meadow grasses and barnacle-dotted rocks, the area makes a pleasant summer picnic and exploration spot. Send the kids to find the international boundary marker, as the lighthouse is only a few miles from Canadian waters.

  • Put into service: Current building 1908; original 1893
  • Automated: 1974
  • Height: 38 feet
  • Claim to fame: Northernmost lighthouse in Washington
  • Tours: Offered most weekends, Memorial Day to Labor Day; call Sucia Island State Park for information: (360) 376-2073.

Point Wilson Lighthouse — Adjacent to Fort Worden Historical State Park

The Point Wilson Lighthouse and Fort Worden Historical State Park are primo sightseeing stops on a visit to Port Townsend and the Olympic Peninsula. The unpretentious lighthouse is an easy walk from the park or the beach. Though the compound is closed to the public, you can still get great shots from the sandy beach below.

Point Wilson Lighthouse facts:

  • Put into service: Current building 1914; original 1879
  • Automated: 1977
  • Height: 46 feet

A picturesque red and white light station building next to a device that provides the light. It stands atop a rocky precipice with evergreen trees behind it.
Turn Point Light Station on Stuart Island is a lovely 3-mile hike from Prevost and Reid Harbors on Sucia Island

Turn Point Light Station — adjacent to Stuart Island Marine State Park

To reach the Turn Point Light Station, dock at Prevost or Reid Harbor on Stuart Island Marine State Park and hike 3 miles to the western tip of the isle. The hike reveals a small community, forests and pastures, a former one-room schoolhouse, a cemetery and a bluff ominously called Lovers' Leap. A cluster of buildings shields the light station, which sit precariously on the point.

Turn Point Lighthouse facts:

  • Put into service: Current building 1936, original 1893
  • Automated: 1974
  • Height: 16 feet

Originally published August 02, 2022

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