Fort Worden Historical State Park
NOTICE: Changes in campsite reservations at Fort Worden
Reservations for campsites and the beach shelter are now handled through Washington State Parks' reservation system, either online or by phone at (888) 226-7688.
For inquiries and reservations regarding dormitories, vacation homes and other accommodations at the park, please contact the Fort Worden Public Development Authority at (360) 344-4400 or visit online at Fort Worden website. ____________________________________________________
Hidden gun emplacements, expansive parade lawns and restored Victorian-era Officers homes place history front and center at Fort Worden Historical State Park.
While today's park plays host to workshops, festivals and family reunions, the Fort Worden of 100 years ago was home to nearly 1,000 troops and officers training to defend the Puget Sound from potential enemy invaders.
Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Casey, with their big guns and strategic locations, once made up the coastal defense system known as, "The Triangle of Fire." Constructed between 1898 and 1917, fascinating Fort Worden features more than 2 miles of beachfront and high bluffs with spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Want a comprehensive history lesson? Start at the Friends of Fort Worden Gift Shop, and grab a self-guided walking tour map. Stop into the Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum, Commanding Officer's House and Marine Science Center. Enjoy a meal in the Guard House Pub, and peruse the photogenic 1914 Point Wilson Lighthouse. Explore defunct coastal defense batteries, and imagine the compound teeming with enlisted men, officers and staff during World Wars I and II.
Nurture your creative side by attending a world-class conference or retreat at the fort. Stay in a barracks-turned-dormitory, a Commanding Officer's home or a castle. Or camp at the beach, and fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing gently on the shore.
This rich cultural treasure will delight military and maritime history buffs, as well as writers, musicians, visitors to nearby Port Townsend and anyone who's up for a great place to stay.
Fort Worden Historical State Park is a 432-acre multi-use park with more than 2 miles of saltwater shoreline and a wide variety of services and facilities, including a full-service conference center that can be booked for daylong or multi-day events.
The park is co-managed by the Fort Worden Public Development Authority, which runs the overnight lodging and partners with Centrum Arts Foundation and other on-site organizations to provide unique experiences for visitors. For more information, visit online.
Discover Pass: A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to state parks for day use. At Fort Worden a Discover Pass is required to visit at a campsite, in the beach area and at the main trailheads for day use parking. For more information about the Discover Pass and exemptions, please visit the Discover Pass web page.
Automated pay station: This park is equipped with an automated pay station for visitors to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass and boat launch permit.
Public Development Authority
The Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center, located in the park's main campus, is operated by the Fort Worden Public Development Authority (PDA). Information about food, lodging, programs and events at the learning center can be found on the PDA's website
Fort Worden Advisory Committee The Fort Worden Advisory Committee was created by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in 1973 to provide assistance and recommendations for the development and operation of Fort Worden State Park. Specifically, the committee provides a venue for public input and advice to executive leadership on matters relating to the operation and management of Fort Worden State Park. The committee has 11 voting members and 7 ex officio members. It meets the third Thursday of odd numbered months. To contact a committee member, please see the committee roster (PDF). The approved bylaws (PDF) are available for review. Meeting agendas and minutes are posted below.
- Hiking trail
- Meeting spaces
- Vacation rentals
Use our interactive ADA recreation map to search for other state parks with ADA amenities and facilities.
Picnic & day-use facilities
Fort Worden offers dozens of outstanding day-use and picnic areas. Whether overlooking the high centennial cliffs of Artillery Hill, the often wild Strait of Juan de Fuca, or a placid vista encompassing the distant Mt. Baker, framed by Point Wilson Lighthouse and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center on the end of the pier. Numerous day-use picnic tables and fire boxes provide for an excellent picnic spot. The Cable House Canteen is an on-site food and convenience store, offering sundries, delicious burgers or hot breakfast entrées.
- 2.6 miles of ADA hiking trails
- 8.3 miles of biking trails
- 11.2 miles of hiking trails
Water activities & features
- 120 feet of dock
- Moorage buoys (6)
- Personal watercraft use
- Saltwater fishing
- Watercraft launches (2)
Other activities & features
- Alternative fitness classes
- Beach exploration
- Bird watching
- Fire circles (2)
- Mountain biking
- Tennis courts (2)
- Visitor center and gift shop
The Coast Artillery Museum was established to preserve and interpret coast artillery history with special emphasis on the harbor defenses of Puget Sound as they existed and functioned from the late 1800s to the end of World War II.
Among the collections and artifacts, visitors will see a three-dimensional scale model of Battery Kinzie showing the design and structure of the massive fortifications and the emplacements for the two 12-inch disappearing guns that were kept in readiness for possible attack from 1910 to 1943. Call (360) 385-0373 or visit their website for more information.
Commanding Officer's Quarters overlooks Admiralty Inlet with the Cascades in the background. Completed in 1904, 33 families called this place home during the days of the fort. The building has been restored and furnished in keeping with the late Victorian period (1890 - 1910), providing a glimpse into the life of an officer and his family in the first decade of this century. Special tours can be arranged by calling (360) 385-1003.
Rothschild House at Fort Worden Historical State Park in Port Townsend will remain closed until later this summer or fall. You can enjoy the gardens around the house and take in the view with a picnic. The house is managed by the Jefferson County Historical Society. Visit their website for more information.
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is open April 1 through Oct. 31.
Group Tours and Activities
To request a State Park interpretive program at Fort Worden, please fill out the form at the link below.
Fort Worden Interpretive Program Form
Have questions? Please email Kelsey.Lang@parks.wa.gov.
FRIENDS OF FORT WORDEN
The Friends of Fort Worden State Park is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 to provide financial and volunteer support for programs and park improvements (such as trail maintenance, guided walks and interpretive trails). To find out more about The Friends of Fort Worden and what they’re doing, visit their website.
- There are several golf courses nearby.
- Visit the fascinating historic town of Port Townsend.
- The Olympic Mountains rise majestically nearby.
- From nearly everywhere, you can hear the cry of the gull and the call of the sea.
- Rent kayaks (singles) for $25 first hour, $10 each additional hour. A variety of kayaks and rowboats are available.
- Printable park brochure (PDF).
Campers may enjoy this scenic and historic fort at two delightful campgrounds with 80 campsites that may be reserved up to 9 months in advance. Both campgrounds have restrooms with showers. Maximum site length is 75-feet (limited availability).
Beach campground features 50 full-hookup (water, electric, and sewer) sites tucked between the bluffs and the beaches of Point Wilson. The sites are level, spacious, and open. Most sites have an amazing view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Upper campground features 30 partial-hookup sites with water, electricity, and a sewer dump station nearby. The campsites are mostly forested, some with privacy. They are fairly level, and quite long. This campground offers easy access to miles of trails.
Campsites are popular and fill quickly year-round. Reservations are highly recommended.
Campgrounds convert to winter water after Thanksgiving until before Presidents' Day Weekend (subject to weather). Insulated winter water sources are available in each campground during this time.
Individual campsite reservations can be made online or by calling (888)226-7688.
With 456 bedrooms, Fort Worden offers a wide variety of overnight accommodations for family vacations, conferences, reunions, and retreats. Visitors may choose from century-old officers' housing, a castle, special one-room houses, and large dormitories. All accommodations are located on beautiful state park grounds that have miles of trails, sandy beaches, and unparalleled views of the Cascades and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
There are 43 housing units available for renting year-round. Houses range from six-bedroom to single-bedroom units with living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens. All the houses have fully equipped kitchens (coffee makers, utensils, dinnerware, and cookware), and have full linen service. These houses are very popular with conferences and travelers. Visit the vacation houses section for additional information.
Fort Worden governance
The Washington State Parks Commission unanimously adopted a lease and co-management agreement with the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center PDA. The agreement was the result of years of public process, discussion, research and negotiation. The documents related to the public process are included on this page. If you would like more information or need documents in an alternative format, please call 360-902-8626 or email us.
- Agenda Item E3 and Appendices 1-6 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E3 and Fort Worden Future Governance (PDF)
- Agenda Item E3 and Memorandum of Understanding with Centrum (PDF)
- Agenda Item E5 and Appendices 1-5 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E5 and Appendix 3 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E6 and Appendix 1 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E7 and Appendices 1-3 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E7 and Appendices 1-5 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E7 and Appendices 4-5 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E9 and Appendices 1-3 (PDF)
- Agenda Item E11 and Memorandum of Understanding with Centrum (PDF)
- Fort Worden-PDA Master Lease (PDF)
- Memo to Staff and Partners-Discover Pass 2013 (PDF)
- Resolution Regarding the Transfer of Ft Worden-PDA (PDF)
Fort Worden, named for Admiral John L. Worden, is the only U.S. Army post named after a United States Navy member.
Fort Worden was one of five fortifications built in the Puget Sound area at the turn of the 20th century, starting with the gun emplacements in 1898. These posts were established to prevent a hostile fleet from reaching the Bremerton Naval Yard and to provide protection for developing cities in the area. In 1904, Fort Worden became the headquarters for the defense of Puget Sound.
The layout of the fort changed many times throughout periods of war and peace. The largest number of soldiers living there at one time was approximately 7,000 during the summer of 1918. The fort’s purpose was primarily defense, but these shores never saw any action. Soldiers spent their time here training for battles overseas, keeping up the grounds, and competing in friendly games like baseball.
Over the years, the large guns from the batteries were either removed or scrapped. Many of these were removed during WWI to be placed on mobile mounts for use in Europe. Due to improvements in warships and the invention of aircraft, the coastal defense technology of the early 20th century was rendered obsolete by the 1920s.
Only two of the large seacoast guns originally installed at Fort Worden are known to have survived being scrapped. During WWII, two 10-inch guns on barbette carriages (originally in Battery Quarles) were transferred to Fort McNutt in Nova Scotia, Canada. By the end of WWII these guns were abandoned and exist there still in disrepair. The only two large seacoast guns from the Endicott period remaining in the United States, are two 10-inch disappearing guns brought back from Fort Wint in the Philippines. They are currently installed at Fort Casey on the other side of Admiralty Inlet.
The fort was last used for amphibious training exercises, which proved useful when soldiers from Fort Worden landed at Incheon (South Korea) to assist in the Korean Conflict. Soldiers never returned in force to Fort Worden, and the Army decided to decommission the fort in 1953. However, the Navy’s Harbor Command Post on top of Artillery Hill remained active, monitoring ships and boats coming into Puget Sound until 1959.The State of Washington took the over the facility in 1958 and used it for a rehabilitation center until it became a state park in 1972.