Damon Point State Park

During spring break this year I did a week long road trip down Route 101 through Washington and Oregon so this post is a bit of a retrospective. One of the places that I visited was Damon Point State Park, a bit of a nature refuge in the tourist town of Ocean Shores.

I stopped in at the tourist info centre on the way into town and asked about good birding areas. They’ve got some great maps and suggestions, but I was a bit sceptical when I was told that there were snowy owls (this is in late March, 2013—don’t expect them now) out at Damon Point. Actually, I wasn’t surprised to hear that there were snowies in southern Washington during the winter since the habitat seemed good. What I was surprised to hear was that they had nested and had “babies”… I think that somewhere along the line, the juvenile snowy owls that were out at Damon Point (I saw close to a dozen while walking the beach and back through the field) became the offspring of “locally nesting” snowy owls.

Storm Clouds over Damon Point
The dark storm clouds to the south of Damon Point.

In early spring, Damon Point is fairly quiet with more people near the parking area and fewer and fewer the farther walked.The weather was mixed and I debated making the effort to walk out to the point because of the threat of rain moving in from the south. I was half-looking for early/late snowy plovers—just a bit too far north (most sightings around Gray’s Harbour in eBird are further south at Grayland Beach State Park) and so pushed on through a light shower before the weather became better.

Edge of Grass and Sand
The middle section of Damon Point State Park is a mix of grass and sand – great hunting habitat for birds of prey.

Aside from the snowy owls it was pretty quiet for birds and a bit early for botany. However, the landscape is stunning with a long narrow stretch of sand and gravel running out to a wider area that is mostly grassland.

Another view of the grasslands at Damon Point State Park and the turbulent sky. Plenty of drift logs for perching raptors.

It’s possible to do a nice 6.5 km (4 mi) loop walk out around the wider area by cutting across the peninsula where it narrows (or continue on to the very tip) and circling back on the Gray’s Harbour side. I ended up making a fairly wide berth around the numerous snowy owls sitting on drift logs and higher points in field, knowing the limitation of my 70-200mm lens and not wanting to stress them out by approaching closely.

Drift Log Sculpture?
One of the trails through the grassland passes through a number of drift logs stood on end.

Several trails cut through the grass and the scrub forest in the center of the Damon Point and most end up at a paved road that starts and goes nowhere. It looks like the remnants of an older access road and parking areas but it’s disconnected in the narrow section—I’m guessing that it was probably damaged during a storm and never repaired. It was a bit surreal emerging from the trees and stumbling onto this fragment of a road if you’re not expecting it and made me think of how things might go “post civilization.” Nature has a way of reclaiming what was taken from her.

Road to Nowhere
A short section of paved road in Damon Point State Park. Doesn’t really go anywhere.

I hope they never attempt to reconnect these abandoned parking areas. It doesn’t take much effort to walk out to the point and doing so gives you a better appreciation of the land than simply driving out, parking, taking a look, and moving on. Damon Point State Park is worth a little more time to truly appreciate it for what it is.

Beach at Damon Point State Park
One last look at the beach at Damon Point State Park near Ocean Shores, Washington.

Getting There:

From downtown Ocean Shores drive south on Point Brown Avenue Southwest. Turn left onto Discovery Avenue Southeast. Park on the side of the road near the Quinault Marina and RV Park.