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12 Fascinating Things To Know About Broughton Beach

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Did you know that Broughton Beach is home to a diverse range of wildlife? The beach offers a unique sanctuary for various creatures to thrive, from majestic seabirds to playful river otters. 

Imagine a particular sandy spot in Portland where the calm waves of the Columbia River invite you. Situated east of the bustling M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp, this waterfront haven calls curious travelers like you to uncover its hidden treasures. 

Now, if you’re gearing up to visit this renowned destination, read on to unveil 12 fascinating facts about Broughton Beach.

1. It was Named After British Lieutenant William R. Broughton

12 Fascinating Things To Know About Broughton Beach

Broughton Beach holds a captivating history that connects to Broughton Bluff upstream. This historical nugget stems from British Lieutenant William R. Broughton, a significant player in the Captain George Vancouver expedition of 1792. 

This expedition marked the first European attempt to navigate the Columbia River. Interestingly, Lieutenant Broughton’s exploration concluded upstream of the current Broughton Beach, which now carries his name.

Adding to the intrigue, this Beach was once known as “Diddlers Beach” in its earlier days. This quaint historical name hints at the past allure and perhaps a touch of mystery surrounding the area. 

Fast-forward to 1974, when the U.S. Board of Geographic Names officially recognized the beach’s title as “Broughton Beach.” This naming journey, woven with historical threads, adds a captivating layer to this coastal destination.

2. Broughton Beach Boasts Relaxing Sandy Shores

Besides a rich history, this beach offers a generous expanse of sandy shoreline, creating an ideal setting for relaxation, picnics, and a range of beach activities. 

So, whether you want quiet moments, relaxed meals, or beach games, this beach is the place to be. Its inviting stretch of soft sand invites you to unwind, enjoy the outdoors, and make the most of your coastal experience.

3.  The Beach Offers Stunning Views of the Columbia River

Broughton Beach also treats visitors to breathtaking vistas of the Columbia River. As you gaze out from the shore, you’ll be greeted by the impressive sight of the river’s expansive waters, stretching as far as the eye can see. 

The surrounding natural beauty complements this panoramic view, creating a calm and picturesque scene that’s bound to captivate your senses.

4. Broughton Beach is Known to be Angler’s Paradise

12 Fascinating Things To Know About Broughton Beach

Another fascinating fact about Broughton Beach is the colorful canopies and tents that create a vibrant mosaic against the sandy backdrop. These canopies and tents signify the arrival of a unique spectacle. 

What does this mean? As fishermen launch their boats from the nearby ramp, they partake in a longstanding tradition of pursuing spring, summer, and fall salmon. These fish runs, once a lifeline for Native American tribes and early explorers, now stand as markers of environmental change. 

Now, amidst the serene surroundings, one can witness an intriguing contest unfold—line fishermen pitted against gill netters and sea lions, each vying for their place in an intricate ecological tapestry. 

The scene is enriched by the sight of an osprey swooping into the water, emerging triumphant with a clenched salmon in their grasp. On calm mornings, the air resonates with the voices of anglers as they embark on their quest, forming a “hog line” of determination across the water’s expanse. 

This captivating tableau weaves together nature, history, and the ongoing interaction between humans and their environment.

On the other side of the Columbia River, in Washington, you’ll find Wintler Park, Tidewater Cove, and Lieser Point. Broughton Beach is a friendly link connecting you to these excellent outdoor spots. 

It’s like a bridge that invites you to come and enjoy all the fun things you can do at Wintler Park. So, once you step into this soothing beach, you’re at the starting point of an extraordinary adventure where nature and fun come together.

6. Broughton Beach Map Played a Role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition 

12 Fascinating Things To Know About Broughton Beach
Juan F.

Besides being named after British naval officer William Robert Broughton, his detailed beach mapping also played a crucial role in guiding the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

This famous journey, guided by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, was a significant land exploration from 1804 to 1806 across the western part of the United States. After a long and adventurous trek, the expedition finally reached the beach’s mouth in November 1805, settling for the winter at Fort Clatsop near present-day Astoria, Oregon. 

It’s incredible to think that Broughton Beach holds a connection to these historic explorations that shaped the exploration of the American West.

7. It’s Double-Crested Cormorants Act as a Natural Wind Gauge

As you arrive at the parking area of Broughton Beach, take a moment to glance toward the left. You’ll be greeted by double-crested cormorants gracefully perched in a row along a wire. These birds have an intriguing knack for sensing the wind direction – a natural wind gauge. 

It’s a handy trick that’s sure to pique your curiosity. By observing the direction these cormorants face, you’ll be able to deduce the prevailing wind direction. This charming natural phenomenon adds a touch of wonder to your beach visit, allowing you to connect with the environment and its subtle cues in a unique and engaging way.

Speaking of nature’s cues, if you plan to revisit your bird-watching hobby at this beach, there’s more to explore here. The movements of fish beneath the water’s surface can be seen in the various types of birds you’ll find above. 

Look up, and you might even spot great blue herons, scaup ducks, killdeer, loons, geese, warblers, and more. Over 150 different kinds of birds have been seen here, showing us how the underwater world affects the skies above.

8. It Serves as the Perfect Spot For Calm Water Activities

12 Fascinating Things To Know About Broughton Beach
Charlie O.

Located beside the Columbia River, Broughton Beach’s tranquil waves and gentle waters create the perfect setting for a range of activities suitable for all, whether seeking relaxation or adventure.

Imagine embarking on a kayaking journey, each paddle stroke guiding you through the serene waters. Experience the thrill of paddleboarding, finding your balance on the rippling surface amid breathtaking scenery. 

Alternatively, embark on a boat expedition, sailing along the river’s sun-kissed waters. This outdoor area invites experienced explorers and beginners to enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating while enjoying the calm Columbia River surroundings.

But that’s not all the water-based fun this beach holds for its visitors. Positioned at River Mile 110 on the Lower Columbia River Water Trail, it’s common to witness tugboats navigating barges laden with logs and grain amidst a fleet of sailboats there. 

You might even hear the rhythmic paddling of Columbia River Outrigger Canoe Club members as they propel their boats. Just make sure to bring your canoe or kayak to embrace a unique perspective from the river’s embrace.

9. Exciting Events are Arranged to Foster Local Connections

Over the years, Broughton Beach has evolved into a vibrant social hub that brings together the local community through various events and gatherings. This transformation highlights how the beach’s role has shifted over time from a simple natural setting to a dynamic and engaging space where residents congregate and connect. 

Through these community-oriented activities, this beach is also recognized as a cherished locale where people come together, fostering a sense of togetherness and shared experiences among the locals.

10. The Beach Underwent Major Changes to Become Family-Friendly

Broughton Beach has transformed significantly, presenting a striking contrast between its past and present. In earlier days, when it was referred to as Dittler’s Beach, it served as a gathering ground for groups seeking enjoyment around bonfires. 

However, this pleasant atmosphere often led to the unfortunate aftermath of litter and broken glass strewn across the sandy expanse.

Fast forward to today, and the beach has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis. Instead of the traces of old gatherings, you’ll discover a peaceful setting where artists paint the calm interplay of wind and sand against the grandeur of Mount Hood. 

The soft sunlight envelops the mountain at dawn and dusk. Adding more to its appealing view, planes ascend from Portland International Airport, and kites elegantly sway with the breeze along the western rim of the Columbia Gorge.

Dedicated cleaning efforts have brought about this positive transformation. The deployment of the specialized Beach Tech 2800 machine meticulously combed through the sand, eliminating 110 tons of debris. 

Additionally, modern restroom facilities, enhanced evening security, and regulations against alcohol and beach fires have collectively shaped the beach into a family-friendly and inviting destination. Hence, its journey from a lively yet littered past to its present serene and rejuvenated state underscores the power of conscious efforts and environmental stewardship.

11. Cycling through the Marine Drive Trail Leads to the Beach

Cycling has emerged as a favored method for exploring the beauty of Broughton Beach. It is mainly possible due to a dedicated asphalt path alongside Marine Drive from Northeast 33rd Avenue to Metro’s Blue Lake Regional Park in Fairview. 

This designated path provides cyclists with a safe and convenient route, allowing them to journey through picturesque surroundings en route to the beach. While most of the route is smooth and separate from vehicular traffic, cyclists should briefly transition to the shoulder of Marine Drive near Northeast 185th Avenue. 

As you pedal along, don’t miss the opportunity to pause and take in the historical significance marked by the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail sign, commemorating the important expedition. This integration of cycling, history, and natural beauty highlights how Broughton Beach has evolved into a multifaceted destination catering to diverse interests.

12. Broughton Beach’s Charm Changes with the Season


Amazingly, this beach changes with the seasons, giving each time of year a special touch. In the summer, it’s an excellent spot for picnics and hanging out with loved ones. When fall comes, it becomes a temporary home for migrating birds. 

Winter brings a peaceful calm to the beach, with a serene view that’s very soothing. This means that the beach has something special for every season, making it a wonderful place to enjoy all year long.

Summing Up

As we conclude our exploration of the 12 captivating facts about Broughton Beach, it’s evident that this destination holds a wealth of wonders waiting to be uncovered. Whether you’re drawn to its historical ties, the stunning Columbia River views, or the diverse activities, This beach is a true gem for everyone.

From witnessing migratory birds to experiencing the changing seasons, this beach promises an unforgettable journey through its natural beauty. And beyond the beach itself, you’ll find a range of attractions and dining options to enhance your trip even further.

If you’re excited to explore more, we suggest checking out additional travel guides that can help you discover amazing places in different wonderful locations:

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