Posts Tagged With: State Park

A Crowning Jewel – Crown Point and Vista House, OR

Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon

Vista House

Whether you look east or west, you’ll see beautiful greens and blues for miles. The deep blue of the Columbia River with a barge floating upriver, the dark green forests and fields, and the summer blue skies. These are the views you will see from Crown Point sitting 733 feet above the Columbia Gorge.

Crown Point View East, Oregon

Crown Point View East

One a recent perfect July Saturday we headed down to take a hike in the gorge. After an exhilarating and exhausting hike we wanted to go up to Crown Point to show my daughter, Brandy, her boyfriend, Jason and my grandson, Anden, because none of them had ever been there. David, Josh, and I have been there but not when the building located there was open. This time we were in for a treat, it was open! The building is called the Vista House and was built in 1916-1917, about the same year that the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway was built. It was meant to be a place of rest and great views for gorge travelers. It has an octagonal shape and like an iceberg, much of it is underground.

Vista House, Crown Point, OR

Vista House

You can enter the building from one of four doors, stepping into a large domed room. There are some tables with information set up and park staff available for questions. Two sets of stairs are almost hidden next to the walls.

 

Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon

Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon

Head up and you will come out on the balcony surrounding the entire dome, and giving you an even higher view of the gorge.

Crown Point View West, Oregon

Crown Point View West

If you head down the stairs from the main floor, that’s where you will be shocked by the size of the building! There are several small galleries, large ornate restrooms, a small gift store and another small store with souvenirs and snacks, all very reasonably priced. Ice cream sandwiches were the hit with our little group on this hot day.

Vista House Restrooms, Crown Point, OR

Vista House Restrooms

Vista House Gallery, Crown Point, OR

Vista House Gallery

Back outside, Anden was excited to see telescopes so we scrounged up two quarters between us so he could take a look up and down the gorge. He was impressed that he could see the words on the side of the barge that was heading upriver.

Vista House Shop, Crown Point, OR

Vista House Shop

The Vista House has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It was dedicated in 1918, restored between 2001-2006 and rededicated in 2006. The property is over 305   acres in size and is an Oregon State Park. According to a survey visitors were asked to complete, 70% of visitors are not local, most coming from over 800 miles away. Conflicting reports estimate the number of annual visitors range from 500,000 per year to nearly one million per year.

The Vista House is open 9am-6pm daily, weather permitting. (David was there one time when it was so windy that he was able to lean into the wind and it held him up!)

Getting there: Take exit 22 off I-84/Highway 30 to 40700 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97019.

 

 

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Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

History, Beauty and Fun! – Fort Worden State Park, Washington

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Admiralty Inlet

IMG_1540Sitting high on a bluff overlooking the deep blue intersection of the Straits of Juan De Fuca and Admiralty Inlet sits beautiful historic Fort Worden. Built in 1897, the fort became a part of the Washington State park system in 1955 and now encompasses 434-acres. Located in the town of Port Townsend, the park has about two miles of shoreline, historic buildings replicating life in the early 1900’s, as well as local schools and businesses. Centrum is a program located on the grounds that offers ongoing classes for writers, musicians, artists and dancers. The Port Townsend School of Woodworking is also located there along with a branch of Peninsula College. Conferences and retreats are held in the conference center. With dormitories and former officer’s homes available for rent, there is plenty of room for everyone. There are actually a total of 456 bedrooms available for use!

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One of the Many Batteries

Two campgrounds are also available, one up high on the bluff and one down near the beach and lighthouse.

We have stayed in the lower campground twice and loved it. There is a small berm to block the wind blowing in from the water, but a short walk, literally just a few feet, over it and you are on the beach. The camping spots are large with a lot of room between them. Of course there are restroom and shower facilities available as well. One of Josh’s favorite parts is the fact that there is a remnant of concrete military bunkers known as “batteries” right next to the campground and he always spend hours running around in it with a flashlight, meeting other kids and scaring each other.

Down by the lower campground is also where the Marine Science Center is located. It hosts exciting wildlife cruises as well as amazing hands-on activities for kids, such as day or overnight camps and classes.

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Coast Artillery Museum

A visit to the Coast Artillery Museum will help you learn about the history of the site.  Fort Worden was established as one of three harbor defense posts for Puget Sound. The other two are Fort Flagler and Fort Casey. You can see models of the batteries so when you actually get out on the grounds and find them, you’ll understand better what you are looking at.

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Fireplace in Commanding Officer’s House

One of my favorite buildings is the Commanding Officer’s Quarters which was built in 1904. It has been painstakingly restored and furnished in the grand style of the 1890s-1910s. The interpretive guide looked quite handsome in his period clothing and had a wealth of knowledge about the house and its history. I don’t think there was one question that I had that he couldn’t answer.

There are so many activities available in the park – boating, fishing, crabbing, hiking, biking, swimming and of course, running around the batteries. If you don’t have your own boat or bike you can rent bikes and kayaks. There is usually some sort of event, show, class, or performance going on somewhere on the grounds. In the evenings we always saw deer out grazing in the big parade grounds. Just sitting and watching the huge ships going through the straits is amazing.

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Dress Displayed in Commanding Officer’s House.

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Replica Barracks Room

Both times we have been there I couldn’t help but think about the families, particularly the women, who lived there a hundred years ago. Did they think it was just as beautiful as I do or was it nothing special to them? With all the batteries, beautiful buildings and facilities which seem like they would have met their every need, did they feel safe or did they feel isolated? Was it a choice assignment or just a stepping stone to something they thought was more desirable?

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Officer’s Row Houses for Rent

There is so much to see and do, so much to wonder about at Fort Worden State Park, that it is well worth your time to take the family and discover all that the park’s 434 acres has to offer. Learn the history, explore the batteries. Maybe stay in one of the old houses and see if you can experience life as those families did 100 years ago!

For reservations and more information, http://www.parks.wa.gov/fortworden/default.aspx

 

Getting there: (from the Fort Worden website) –

From Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal, and drive straight (NE) on State Route (SR) 305 for approximately 13 miles. Drive through Poulsbo, and take a right onto the ramp for SR 3 to the Hood Canal Bridge – approximately 7 miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, take a left and remain on SR 104 for about 6 ½ miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend, take a left on Kearney Street, right on Blaine Street, left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Canada/Northwest Washington to Fort Worden State Park

Travel south on Interstate 5 to Highway 20 (Burlington exit). Follow Highway 20 west through Oak Harbor and Coupeville to Keystone Ferry, approximately 42 miles. Take the Keystone Ferry to Port Townsend. Depart from the ferry terminal and turn left onto Water Street. At the first stop light, turn right onto Kearney Street. At the first stop sign take a right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, take a left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Edmonds-Kingston Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal and drive straight on State Route (SR) 104. Follow signs to stay on SR 104 through Port Gamble to the Hood Canal Bridge, approximately nine miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn right and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Tacoma to Fort Worden State Park

Follow Highway 16 across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and follow the signs to Bremerton, approximately 27 miles, where the highway changes names to SR 3. Follow SR 3 about 25 miles to the Hood Canal Bridge. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn left and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Olympia to Fort Worden State Park

Take US 101 northbound towards Quilcene. About 12 miles past Quilcene, bear right onto SR 20. Follow SR 20 approximately eight miles then turn left at the lighted intersection, which keeps you on SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fort Columbia State Park, Washington

Often when a person thinks about going to Long Beach, Washington, it includes playing around on the beach, maybe going to see Fort Canby and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. But did you know there’s another fort in the area?

Heading out the alternate route of Hwy. 101 on the way to Astoria is Fort Columbia.

If you’re in a hurry or paying more attention to the tunnel coming up on the highway, it’s easy to breeze right by the fort. I’m a little embarrassed to admit we’ve done it many times. Until we had time to take it slow and easy one weekend and finally took the opportunity to stop.

I had heard very little about this fort, everything in the area seems to be focused on Fort Canby, so I guess I assumed there wasn’t much at Fort Columbia. I was dead wrong. Not only are there gun emplacement facilities, but there is also the beautifully renovated homes that were built to house the soldiers, their families and supporting businesses. It was truly a small community, just like any other town.

The 593-acre site is located on Chinook Point in southwest Washington, situated overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River. Building began in 1896 and was completed in 1898. Confusingly, various websites as well as signage at the park itself seem to contradict each other as some say it was active in 1896, some in 1989 and some in 1899. Whichever it was, it was an active military site until 1947. It was turned over to the State of Washington in the 1950’s and is now a day-use park but some of the facilities can be rented as vacation houses. There is also a museum and visitor’s center.

There are several informational signs around the property explaining the various buildings, ruins and gun sites. Some of the signs have tags, the little squares that you can access with your smartphone, and it brings up tons more information on your smartphone, including an audio tour.

Kids love spending the day running around the batteries, in and out of the tunnels, using flashlights, making echoes, and pretending to be soldiers from WWI and WWII. The colonial architecture of the housing draws the person with a love of both history and home design. And everyone is drawn to the sensational view from high up on the hill, stretching out over the entrance to the Columbia River, down to Astoria and beyond.

So if you’re on a day or weekend trip to the Long Beach peninsula, do something a little different from the usual shopping and go-karting in town and head down to Fort Columbia. You won’t be disappointed.

More great pictures of the buildings can be found here: http://www.cdsg.org/HDCRdata/columbgarr1.htm

If you’re into the details of the plans for the site here is a site with fascinating specs: http://www.cdsg.org/HDCRdata/FtColumbia/ColumbiaRCW.pdf

Getting there: From Long Beach, you can either head south on Hwy. 103 to Ilwaco. In town, turn left at the light and follow the signs for Hwy. 101 Alt. east (towards Astoria). Go about 8 miles until you see the sign for the park on the left. Or from Long Beach you can head back east on Hwy 101 then about 2.4 miles turn right onto Alt. Hwy 101 (towards Astoria).

Categories: Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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