Beacon Rock State Park

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Beacon Rock State Park
Washington State Park
Beacon rock.jpg
Beacon Rock viewed from the west
Country United States
State Washington
County Skamania
Elevation 722 ft (220 m) [1]
Coordinates 45°37′39″N 122°01′14″W / 45.62750°N 122.02056°W / 45.62750; -122.02056Coordinates: 45°37′39″N 122°01′14″W / 45.62750°N 122.02056°W / 45.62750; -122.02056 [1]
Established 1935
Management Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
Location in State of Washington
Wikimedia Commons: Beacon Rock
Website: Beacon Rock State Park

Beacon Rock State Park is a state park of Washington, USA, in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, on Route 14 about 35 miles (56 km) east of Vancouver, Washington. The park takes its name from Beacon Rock, an 848-foot (258 m) volcanic plug, [1], next to the Columbia River. 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.[2]

Beacon Rock[edit]

Railings of the switchback trail ascending Beacon Rock

Beacon Rock 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.[3] [4]

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,[3] 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.

Another view of the interlocking walkways

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."

Activities and amenities[edit]

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 20 miles (32 km) of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails, and 9,500 feet (2,900 m) of freshwater shoreline with a dock and boat launch.[2] 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. Beacon Rock is known for quality, challenging, technical rock climbing.



  1. ^ a b "Beacon Rock". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ a b "Beacon Rock State Park". Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Henry J. Biddle photographs, c.1860s-1925". Historic Photograph Collections. University of Oregon. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  4. ^ GNIS says its decision to rename was in 1915: "GNIS entry detail for Beacon Rock". 1979-09-10. Retrieved 2006-10-09. 

External links[edit]