Copalis River Spit, Copalis Beach

Copalis River Spit, Copalis Beach

by | Aug 20, 2019

The Copalis River Spit is in Griffith-Priday State Park, located adjacent to the small community of Copalis Beach, 21 miles (34 km) northwest of Hoquiam, Washington. Griffiths-Priday State Park is a 533-acre (215 ha) marine day-use park with 8,316 feet (2,535 m) of saltwater shoreline on the Pacific Ocean, and 9,950 feet (3,033 m) of freshwater shoreline on the Copalis River. This part of the coast is known for beach-driving, but the natural spit features low sand dunes that are protected. A trail leads alongside Conner Creek through the grassy dunes and then continues for another 1.5 miles (2.4 km) along the crashing surf to the tip of the spit where the Copalis River meets the sea.

The mouth of the Copalis River, and the coast between the mouth of Joe Creek and Grays Harbor, was once the territory of the Copalis people. In 1805, Lewis and Clark estimated a population of 200 Copalis in 10 houses. In 1888, there were only 5 individuals assigned to a “Chepalis” tribe living in this area. The first non-native settlers in Copalis Beach arrived in the 1890s, and soon Copalis became famous as the “home of the razor clam”.

The Pacific razor clam is one of the most sought after shellfish in Washington State and can be found on ocean beaches from California to Alaska. The Pacific razor clam is an exceptionally meaty shellfish, with a narrow, oblong shell. Washington beaches have a high abundance of these clams that can grow to a length of 3-6 inches (8-15 cm). Clams 7 inches (18 cm) long have been recorded, but are very rare. The life expectancy for Washington clams is five years. In contrast, razor clams found in Alaska may grow to 11 inches (28 cm) in length and live to be 15 years old, possibly due to colder water temperatures and slower growth rates. Popular razor clam beaches in Washington include Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis Beach, Mocrocks, and Kalaloch. It is not unusual to have as many as 1,000 people per mile digging for clams at the peak of the season. Read more here and here. Explore more of Copalis Beach here:

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About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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