Adventurers young and old dig this Washington coast activity — Photo courtesy of Erika Plummer Photography / Duo PR
Less than three hours from the big-city bustle of Seattle, there’s an enchanting coast that brings an immediate sense of tranquility and calm. Here expansive, driftwood-covered beaches border lush evergreen forests and red cliffs topped by wind-hammered trees. Even when the sun plays hide-and-seek, there’s a radiance that pervades the wild and rugged Washington coast.
As winter approaches and days draw shorter, the coast entices beach bums for different reasons; some like to bundle up and walk (or drive!) on pristine sands, while others like to hunker down inside cozy houses that overlook the crashing waves.
Some adventurous souls like to get even more active, checking out popular regional activities like digging for razor clams. Every month, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife releases the schedule for approved days and times for clam digging. (See their website for detailed information.)
Cabins at Iron Springs Resort offer stunning coastal views — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
While countless rental homes and hotels dot the coast, we can think of no cozier place to land oneself than in one of Iron Springs Resort's rustic-chic cabins along Copalis Beach.
The venue began as an eight-cabin vacation property in the 1940s, expanded over the decades, fell into a brief period of disrepair and then underwent major renovations when the True family inherited the venue in 2010.
Iron Springs Resort welcomes visitors with whimsical and inviting seasonal touches — Photo courtesy of Melissa Dismuke
Family patriarch Doug has been vacationing here since he was a young lad, meaning the entire family cherishes their special connection to the place.
After all these years, Doug says, "I’m in awe anytime I come here.”
Today the 25 cabins – some of which can sleep up to 10 or 12 guests – sit on 20 of the resort's acres. While the original structures remain (with beautiful features like fireplaces), they all have updated interiors and brand-new decks that take in sweeping coastal views.
Groundskeeper Jerry Lacey played an integral role in dreaming up dazzling decor elements, like walls and tables made of repurposed and salvaged wood found on the property.
Modern amenities enhance each cabin; think fully-outfitted kitchens, access to Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, with an extensive DVD library available to guests free of charge. (If you’re looking to truly go “off the grid,” request Cabin 28, which is just out of Internet range.)
Time stands still, as the light envelops the peaceful Irons Springs property — Photo courtesy of Melissa Dismuke
Considerate personal touches make the stay even homier, like seasonal decorations, a supply of puzzles and games plus boxes of firewood that get replenished each morning.
The on-site office/general store stocks everything from clam digging tools, Mad Libs and s'mores-making ingredients (ideal for the summertime firepit) to basic food items, condiments, teas, candy and dog treats, since the resort gladly welcomes four-legged friends.
Log cabin charm meets modern comfort at Iron Springs — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
If you're able to tear yourself away from the coziness of your temporary home, enjoy strolls on the beach. (Check out the unique sand runway of Copalis State Airport.) Or, if the timing's right, hunt for your dinner on a daytime or nighttime clam dig.
Iron Springs offers a Guided Clam Dig Package – $50 for adults, $25 for children, plus the cost of a clamming license that can be bought on-site at the general store.
The package includes guidance on how to dig, plus the appropriate equipment: clam guns, shovels, clam bags, lanterns and headlamps. Just be sure to bring your own wellies! Afterward, guests get a cleaning tutorial at the clam cleaning station and can enjoy a glass of wine or steaming mug of hot cocoa.
While there, also wander the property's wooded trails, including a mile-long loop through old-growth trees, where you might spy eagles, deer or other creatures.
If you feel like going farther afoot, drive north to the spectacular Olympic Peninsula, head south into Ocean Shores for errands like grocery shopping or check out Aberdeen, the former hometown of rocker legend Kurt Cobain. (However, by most accounts, this former logging town offers little to see.) Surfers also flock to spots along the coast like Westport, La Push and the Long Beach Peninsula.
Cars can cruise on the beach near the resort — Photo courtesy of Melissa Dismuke
To experience local flavor, head down the road a couple miles from Iron Springs to the Green Lantern Tavern, a friendly dive pub dominated by a shuffleboard table and no-nonsense menu items like baskets of jalapeño poppers and piled-high plates of nachos.
For something a bit more upscale, drive north around mealtime to the Ocean Crest Resort restaurant in Moclips or to Mill 109, the one eatery in the teeny, movie set-esque, "new beach town" of Seabrook.
If you have more time after Copalis and feel like keeping your coastal adventures going, consider heading south of the border to explore the stunning Oregon coast. Within a couple-hours' drive, you'll find highlights that include Astoria (check out the famed Goonies house and Fort George Brewery), the Tilamook Cheese Factory, exquisite Cannon Beach (photos cannot do justice to majestic Haystock Rock) and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, where a sand dune climb can be properly rewarded with a subsequent stop into Pelican Pub and Brewery.
We're wishing you safe and happy travels as you make the most of the Washington coast!