Fort Townsend Historical State Park
On the surface, Fort Townsend is a classic state park on a Puget Sound beach. But a closer look reveals a hidden history.
Built in 1856, Fort Townsend operated as a U.S. Army site on and off until a fire destroyed its barracks in 1895. The small camping park south of Port Townsend is unique among Washington's coastal forts because it has all but returned to nature.
Military buffs, walk the parade lawn and find interpretive plaques lining the former Officers' Row. Explore a historic torpedo tower that held state-of-the-art technology during World War II (and is now part of the group campground). And don't forget to check the park's calendar to learn about events taking place on the lawn.
Fort Townsend provides a quieter alternative to its bigger, busier northern neighbor, Fort Worden. The park has 6 miles of loamy trails through soaring Douglas-firs, western hemlock, cedar trees and a rich understory of ferns. Wander down to the beach for views of Port Townsend Bay.
Couples planning to tie the knot and families arranging reunions can rent the Friends Barn, a replica of the Fort's historic stable, now a charming hall with a fireplace, located between the forest and the beach. Not only will you enjoy Fort Townsend's relaxed vibe, you may feel the park's historic past, even if you can't see it.
Fort Townsend is a 413-acre, marine camping park with 3,960 feet of saltwater shoreline on Port Townsend Bay. The forested park has a rich history in the armed forces, dating from pioneer days.
Discover Pass: A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to state parks for day use. For more information about the Discover Pass and exemptions, please visit the Discover Pass web page.
Picnic & day-use facilities
Three picnic shelters and 43 picnic tables are available first come, first served. The park also offers a modern replica of the historic 1800s stable, the Friends' Barn is perfect for weddings, family reunions, company gatherings, nature camps, classroom activities, and more. Maximum capacity 100 guests.
- 6.5 miles of hiking trails
Water activities & features
- Fishing (saltwater)
Other activities & features
A self-guided nature trail and a second trail highlighting historical information are available in the park. A park ranger conducts interpretive walks by request on Saturdays. The park supports an active Junior Ranger interpretive program.
Birding and nature tours are now being held on the 1st Friday of each month. Bird walks will last approximately 2 to 3 hours. Wear sturdy footwear and dress for changeable weather. Bring binoculars and your own water. Please send Bev an email, subject: Birdwatching Walk to Bevybirds53@gmail.com and she will plan directly with you. Please note this program is dependent on good weather and the group size is limited to 5 people.
- Bicycles are permitted on some of the hiking trails.
- A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington state parks. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Printable park brochure (PDF).
Located in Jefferson County on Puget Sound, Fort Townsend has moorage buoys lying one mile south of Glenn Cove on the west side of Port Townsend Bay. The nearest launch ramps are at Port Townsend, Fort Flagler, and Hadlock. Additional information can be found in the Boating Program.
Moorage fees are charged year round for mooring at docks, floats, and buoys from 1 p.m. to 8 a.m. Moorage permits are available at parks offering moorage. For information, call 360-902-8844.
Port of Port Townsend Boat Haven is a full service marina with a public accessible pumpout. This facility is open year-around, 24 hours a day. The facility has a full service pumpout. There are 2 slips available for pumpout usage. There are two stationary pumpouts. The stationary pumpouts are located at the fuel / registration dock and the ship moorage dock. This facility has a Porta-Potty dump station. The Porta Potty dump station is behind the bathrooms.
Latitude: 48° 6' 25.87" N (48.10719)
Longitude: 122° 46' 26.68" W (-122.77408)
The park has 40 reservable standard campsites, four hiker / biker campsites that are first come, first served. The park has one dump station, two restrooms and one shower. Maximum site length is 40 feet (limited availability).
Check-in time is 2:30 p.m.
Check-out time is 1 p.m.
The park provides a group camp that accommodates up to 50 people. Fees vary with size of the group.
Reservations & fees
The park occupies more than a third of the original Fort Townsend built in 1856 by the U.S. Army for the protection of settlers. Timbers were hewn and laths cut from local forests. The fort was closed between 1859 and 1874, declared unfit after an inspection by an army headquarters commander from Columbia. Reopened in 1874, the fort thrived until 1895 when fire destroyed the barracks. The property was used as an enemy-munitions defusing station during World War II. State Parks took custody of the premises in 1953.