Beacon Rock State Park
|Beacon Rock State Park|
|Washington State Park|
Beacon Rock viewed from the west
|Management||Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission|
|Wikimedia Commons: Beacon Rock|
|Website: Beacon Rock State Park|
The park takes its name from Beacon Rock, an 848-foot (258 m) monolith next to the Columbia River. The 5,100 acres (2,100 ha) park includes 4,482 acres (1,814 ha) of forested uplands across the highway from Beacon Rock, over 9.5 miles (15.3 km) of hiking trails, and 9,500 feet (2,900 m) of freshwater shoreline. There are group and individual site campgrounds. Hardy Falls and Rodney Falls are scenic highlights along the trail to the summit of 2,445-foot (745 m) Hamilton Mountain, which has a view of Bonneville Dam and points east. Other trails go to the top of Beacon Rock and little Beacon Rock.
On October 31, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived here and first measured tides on the river, indicating that they were nearing the ocean.
Beacon Rock, from which the park takes the name, is a monolith on the north bank of the Columbia River. It was named by Lewis and Clark in 1805; they originally referred to it as Beaten Rock, later as Beacon Rock. They noted that the rock marked the eastern extent of the tidal influence in the Columbia. The rock was later known as Castle Rock, until 1915 when its name was changed back to Beacon Rock.
Beacon Rock is 848 feet (258 m) tall and is composed of basalt. Henry Biddle purchased the rock in 1915 for $1 and during the next three years constructed a trail with 51 switchbacks, handrails and bridges. The three-quarter mile trail to the top, completed in April 1918, leads to views in all directions. It is a popular hiking destination.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers planned to destroy the rock, to supply material for the jetty at the mouth of the Columbia (see Columbia River Bar), and dug three caves on the rock's south side. During this time, Biddle's family tried to make it a state park. At first Washington refused the gift, but changed its position when Oregon offered to accept.
It has been variously claimed to be the second largest free standing monolith in the northern hemisphere, or in the world, just behind the Rock of Gibraltar, Stone Mountain, or Mount Augustus, the latter two being very much larger than either of the first two. The assertion depends on how one defines the term "monolith". For example, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming is larger than Beacon Rock, but is considered an igneous intrusion rather than necessarily a "single rock".
- Mueller, Marge & Ted (2004-09-15). Washington State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide (State Parks). Mountaineers Books, Seattle. ISBN 0-89886-893-9.
- "Historic Photograph Collections: Henry J. Biddle photographs, c.1860s-1925". University of Oregon. October 2005. Archived from the original on 13 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
- GNIS says its decision to rename was in 1915: "GNIS entry detail for Beacon Rock". 1979-09-10. Retrieved 2006-10-09.