In March and April 1806, the Corps of Discovery spent six days at a camp on Cottonwood Beach as they stocked up on provisions and generally prepared for the long journey home. It was from this camp that William Clark and a small group discovered the Willamette River, which had somehow been overlooked by the expedition up until then. Currently the site is one of the few areas in the country named for William Clark.
Captain William Clark Park is an 85-acre day use area on the banks of the Columbia just a few miles from Washougal, Washington. The area boasts an interpretive structure that commemorates the heritage of the site, several restroom facilities that include showers, two large, covered group use areas, and countless individual picnic tables and barbeque pits. Spacious lawns can accommodate groups of all kinds. The Columbia Dike Trail that runs from Steamboat Landing to Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge passes directly through the park, making it a central stop if you prefer to divide the trail into sections.
Best of all, the park is the main access to Cottonwood Beach, formerly the namesake for the area. The beach is a long strip of sand that gently eases into the river, keeping the area a safe spot for kids, swimming, or watersports. Reed Island State Park is just upstream from the beach, making this beach an ideal launch if you are looking to paddle around the island or in the Reed Island Channel. You are likely to spot some of the great blue herons that keep rookeries on the island along with many of the other birds commuting up from Steigerwald Lake. The beach also provides a classic Northwest view of Mount Hood over the Columbia River.
To reserve the group facilities, call 360.487.7100.