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An abandoned bunker at Fort Worden.
Travel Pass Photos/Shutterstock

14 Washington State campgrounds with historic buildings to explore

Some semi-abandoned, some not

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An abandoned bunker at Fort Worden.
| Travel Pass Photos/Shutterstock

Pretty much any camping trip around Seattle will have plenty to explore—woods, lakes, your soul, etc. But history buffs, architecture aficionados, and abandoned-place enthusiasts might want something a little more structured, so to speak.

National, state, and local parks around the area have plenty of former military bases, cabins, and other historic relics hanging around, and some of them even allow camping. No, you probably can’t camp inside them, but creating a base of operations allows that much more time to explore. They’re of various levels of activation too—from museums to art spaces to just abandoned bunkers—to suit all tastes.

You’ll find a lot of them clustered around the Admiralty Inlet, forts from a former military effort to thwart invasion by sea, including all three forts of the “Triangle of Fire.” (What used to be strategic siting is now prime waterfront locations.) If you prefer your outings to not come with a side of warfare, though, there are still a couple of options.

Just looking for a hiking trip? Try our map of ghost towns, graveyards, and abandoned places near Seattle.

Map points are ordered north to south.

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1. Moran State Park

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3572 Olga Rd
Olga, WA 98279
(360) 376-2326
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Located on Orcas Island, Moran State Park’s infrastructure was built largely by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal organization that improved many Washington State parks. The features of Moran were built using native materials from the site, including the lookout at the summit of Mt. Constitution—but if you don’t feel like climbing, this also includes shelters and other buildings.

2. Deception Pass State Park

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41229 WA-20
Oak Harbor, WA 98277
(360) 675-3767
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Another Civilian Conservation Corps project was Deception Pass State Park—but if you really want to learn more about this post-Depression project (and you like your exploration a little more guided), this park has converted a former bathhouse into the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center museum right near the Bowman Bay campground. Plus, there’s that famous bridge.

3. Fort Ebey State Park

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400 Hill Valley Dr
Coupeville, WA 98239
(360) 678-4636
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The northernmost Admiralty Inlet fort is now a network of trails with stopoffs for whale watching, paragliding, and even fishing. Attractions include abandoned bunkers, an old water tower, and big water views—and if you want a longer hike, you can reach Ebey’s Landing or even farther to the Island County Historical Museum in downtown Coupeville. The campground itself is a jumping-off point to a ton of park trails of various commitment levels.

4. Fort Casey State Park

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1280 Engle Rd
Coupeville, WA 98239
(360) 678-4519
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Part of the “Triangle of Fire,” along with Fort Worden and Fort Flagler, Fort Casey’s historic buildings are a the easiest to access, with one, large bunker just a mile from a 1903 lighthouse. Its most notable feature is that you can actually go inside the lighthouse if you sign up for a tour.

5. Fort Worden State Park

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200 Battery Way
Port Townsend, WA 98368
(360) 344-4400
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Fort Worden is located in the extremely charming town of Port Townsend, so if you’re mainly in it for historic architecture, there are plenty of chances to pop out and explore some of the best-maintained Victorian architecture in the Pacific Northwest—the city is densely packed with it.

Worden is activated as heck, with its prettier Victorian buildings, like officers’ quarters, transformed into arts spaces, wedding venues, and retreat housing. Like Casey, there’s also a cute lighthouse. If you’re looking for that crunchy, abandoned feel, though, head up to Artillery Hill for some old military infrastructure.

Worden has two campgrounds: a more beachy one below and a more forested one above.

6. Fort Flagler Historical State Park

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10541 Flagler Rd
Nordland, WA 98358
(360) 385-1259
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Flagler is the most sprawling of the old Triangle of Fire forts, with a level of exploration to suit pretty much everyone—former barracks, administrative buildings, and a hospital are activated with historic programs, museums, retreat housing, scout camps, and tours, are easy to access from the road. A couple of former bunkers are right on the road, too. But the deeper you’re willing to go, the more remote and abandoned places you’ll find. Also: Up at Marrowstone Point, there is, of course, a lighthouse.

Some campsites are basically beachfront, while others tuck away on a high bluff overlooking the water.

7. Manchester State Park

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7767 E Hilldale Rd
Port Orchard, WA 98366
(360) 871-4065
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Manchester State Park includes the former site of Middle Point, an early-1900s Coast Artillery Corps fort—although it was only up for about 10 years before the corps decided Fort Ward was sufficient. In addition to the standard batteries, the park includes a large brick torpedo storehouse with an ornate design, formerly storage for underwater mines but later an officer’s club, barracks, and mess hall.

8. Palouse to Cascades State Park

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150 Lake Easton State Park Rd
North Bend, WA 98045
(509) 656-2230
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A whopping 110-mile linear park, Palouse to Cascades stretches from North Bend to the Columbia River before continuing all the way to the Idaho border, switching between Washington State Parks and Department of Natural Resources jurisdiction. It’s on a former railroad bed, and takes hikers and cyclists through many historic tunnels along the way. The trail was only recently John Wayne Pioneer Trail—this segment used to be called Iron Horse State Park Trail.

9. Twanoh State Park

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12190 WA-106
Union, WA 98592
(360) 275-2222
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With most of its original Civilian Conservation Corps-constructed infrastructure still around on the west side of the park, Twanoh is, according to Washington State Parks, “one of the most intact examples of Great Depression-era park architecture in Washington’s state park system.”

10. Millersylvania State Park

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12245 Tilley Rd SW
Olympia, WA 98512
(360) 753-1519
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Like Moran State Park, the infrastructure of Millersylvania State Park was largely built by the Civilian Conservation Corps with materials from within the park and the surrounding area. The hand-built structures were made from logs from the park and sandstone from Tenino, including picnic shelters, bathhouses, and a caretaker’s home.

11. Mount Rainier National Park

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(360) 569-2211
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We could make separate entries for many locations in Mount Rainier National Park—which is, collectively, a national landmark, with some other landmarks nestled inside it. Its iconic parkitecture includes Longmire, with the the park’s first 1916 headquarters building (now a museum) and second 1930 headquarters building (now offices and a wilderness information center). The Nisqually Entrance was the park’s first entrance gate, built in 1911, exemplifies the National Park Rustic style popular in national parks at the time (see also: Yellowstone). The 1908 Oscar Brown cabin, the only cabin from its era that still exists.

There’s a whole lot more to explore here—historic resources in this park even have their own Wikipedia entry—and four campgrounds to choose from, depending on your preferred location and infrastructure needs.

12. Fort Simcoe Historical State Park

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5150 Fort Simcoe Rd
White Swan, WA 98952
(509) 874-2372
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Many former military properties in the Washington State Parks system are from the early 1900s, but Fort Simcoe dates all the way back to 1856, although it was only a fort for three years. After it was decommissioned, it was converted into a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, the first in a widespread, national attempt by white Americans to forcibly assimilate American Indian children and deliberately erase their culture. The site’s currently on lease from the Yakama tribe for purposes of historic preservation.

13. Cape Disappointment State Park

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244 Robert Gray Dr
Ilwaco, WA 98624
(888) 226-7688
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Cape Disappointment State Park—the site where John Meares couldn’t find the Columbia River—is also the former home of Fort Canby, and has many of the explorable features of the other former military forts on this list, like former gun batteries. It also has a lighthouse.

14. Columbia Hills State Park

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85 WA-14
Lyle, WA 98635
(509) 767-1159
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There are all kinds of layers of history at Columbia Hills, which is right on the edge of the border between Washington and Oregon. First, it’s geographically significant, with unique rock formations created at the end of the last Ice Age—Horsethief Butte is almost like a historic building. It’s also a highly significant cultural site for local American Indian tribes, and is peppered with pictographs and petroglyphs, including Tsagaglalal. The mark of Euro-American settlers is also clear: Horsethief Lake was created by the Dalles Dam, and parts of the Dalles Mountain Ranch, including farm equipment, is still around for hikers to explore.

As for the camping, it’s relatively limited, but interesting: four standard campsites, eight partial-hookup sites, four walk-in sites, a teepee, and two platform tent sites,

1. Moran State Park

3572 Olga Rd, Olga, WA 98279

Located on Orcas Island, Moran State Park’s infrastructure was built largely by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal organization that improved many Washington State parks. The features of Moran were built using native materials from the site, including the lookout at the summit of Mt. Constitution—but if you don’t feel like climbing, this also includes shelters and other buildings.

3572 Olga Rd
Olga, WA 98279

2. Deception Pass State Park

41229 WA-20, Oak Harbor, WA 98277

Another Civilian Conservation Corps project was Deception Pass State Park—but if you really want to learn more about this post-Depression project (and you like your exploration a little more guided), this park has converted a former bathhouse into the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center museum right near the Bowman Bay campground. Plus, there’s that famous bridge.

41229 WA-20
Oak Harbor, WA 98277

3. Fort Ebey State Park

400 Hill Valley Dr, Coupeville, WA 98239

The northernmost Admiralty Inlet fort is now a network of trails with stopoffs for whale watching, paragliding, and even fishing. Attractions include abandoned bunkers, an old water tower, and big water views—and if you want a longer hike, you can reach Ebey’s Landing or even farther to the Island County Historical Museum in downtown Coupeville. The campground itself is a jumping-off point to a ton of park trails of various commitment levels.

400 Hill Valley Dr
Coupeville, WA 98239

4. Fort Casey State Park

1280 Engle Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239

Part of the “Triangle of Fire,” along with Fort Worden and Fort Flagler, Fort Casey’s historic buildings are a the easiest to access, with one, large bunker just a mile from a 1903 lighthouse. Its most notable feature is that you can actually go inside the lighthouse if you sign up for a tour.

1280 Engle Rd
Coupeville, WA 98239

5. Fort Worden State Park

200 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368

Fort Worden is located in the extremely charming town of Port Townsend, so if you’re mainly in it for historic architecture, there are plenty of chances to pop out and explore some of the best-maintained Victorian architecture in the Pacific Northwest—the city is densely packed with it.

Worden is activated as heck, with its prettier Victorian buildings, like officers’ quarters, transformed into arts spaces, wedding venues, and retreat housing. Like Casey, there’s also a cute lighthouse. If you’re looking for that crunchy, abandoned feel, though, head up to Artillery Hill for some old military infrastructure.

Worden has two campgrounds: a more beachy one below and a more forested one above.

200 Battery Way
Port Townsend, WA 98368

6. Fort Flagler Historical State Park

10541 Flagler Rd, Nordland, WA 98358

Flagler is the most sprawling of the old Triangle of Fire forts, with a level of exploration to suit pretty much everyone—former barracks, administrative buildings, and a hospital are activated with historic programs, museums, retreat housing, scout camps, and tours, are easy to access from the road. A couple of former bunkers are right on the road, too. But the deeper you’re willing to go, the more remote and abandoned places you’ll find. Also: Up at Marrowstone Point, there is, of course, a lighthouse.

Some campsites are basically beachfront, while others tuck away on a high bluff overlooking the water.

10541 Flagler Rd
Nordland, WA 98358

7. Manchester State Park

7767 E Hilldale Rd, Port Orchard, WA 98366

Manchester State Park includes the former site of Middle Point, an early-1900s Coast Artillery Corps fort—although it was only up for about 10 years before the corps decided Fort Ward was sufficient. In addition to the standard batteries, the park includes a large brick torpedo storehouse with an ornate design, formerly storage for underwater mines but later an officer’s club, barracks, and mess hall.

7767 E Hilldale Rd
Port Orchard, WA 98366

8. Palouse to Cascades State Park

150 Lake Easton State Park Rd, North Bend, WA 98045

A whopping 110-mile linear park, Palouse to Cascades stretches from North Bend to the Columbia River before continuing all the way to the Idaho border, switching between Washington State Parks and Department of Natural Resources jurisdiction. It’s on a former railroad bed, and takes hikers and cyclists through many historic tunnels along the way. The trail was only recently John Wayne Pioneer Trail—this segment used to be called Iron Horse State Park Trail.

150 Lake Easton State Park Rd
North Bend, WA 98045

9. Twanoh State Park

12190 WA-106, Union, WA 98592

With most of its original Civilian Conservation Corps-constructed infrastructure still around on the west side of the park, Twanoh is, according to Washington State Parks, “one of the most intact examples of Great Depression-era park architecture in Washington’s state park system.”

12190 WA-106
Union, WA 98592

10. Millersylvania State Park

12245 Tilley Rd SW, Olympia, WA 98512

Like Moran State Park, the infrastructure of Millersylvania State Park was largely built by the Civilian Conservation Corps with materials from within the park and the surrounding area. The hand-built structures were made from logs from the park and sandstone from Tenino, including picnic shelters, bathhouses, and a caretaker’s home.

12245 Tilley Rd SW
Olympia, WA 98512

11. Mount Rainier National Park

Washington

We could make separate entries for many locations in Mount Rainier National Park—which is, collectively, a national landmark, with some other landmarks nestled inside it. Its iconic parkitecture includes Longmire, with the the park’s first 1916 headquarters building (now a museum) and second 1930 headquarters building (now offices and a wilderness information center). The Nisqually Entrance was the park’s first entrance gate, built in 1911, exemplifies the National Park Rustic style popular in national parks at the time (see also: Yellowstone). The 1908 Oscar Brown cabin, the only cabin from its era that still exists.

There’s a whole lot more to explore here—historic resources in this park even have their own Wikipedia entry—and four campgrounds to choose from, depending on your preferred location and infrastructure needs.

12. Fort Simcoe Historical State Park

5150 Fort Simcoe Rd, White Swan, WA 98952

Many former military properties in the Washington State Parks system are from the early 1900s, but Fort Simcoe dates all the way back to 1856, although it was only a fort for three years. After it was decommissioned, it was converted into a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, the first in a widespread, national attempt by white Americans to forcibly assimilate American Indian children and deliberately erase their culture. The site’s currently on lease from the Yakama tribe for purposes of historic preservation.

5150 Fort Simcoe Rd
White Swan, WA 98952

13. Cape Disappointment State Park

244 Robert Gray Dr, Ilwaco, WA 98624

Cape Disappointment State Park—the site where John Meares couldn’t find the Columbia River—is also the former home of Fort Canby, and has many of the explorable features of the other former military forts on this list, like former gun batteries. It also has a lighthouse.

244 Robert Gray Dr
Ilwaco, WA 98624

14. Columbia Hills State Park

85 WA-14, Lyle, WA 98635

There are all kinds of layers of history at Columbia Hills, which is right on the edge of the border between Washington and Oregon. First, it’s geographically significant, with unique rock formations created at the end of the last Ice Age—Horsethief Butte is almost like a historic building. It’s also a highly significant cultural site for local American Indian tribes, and is peppered with pictographs and petroglyphs, including Tsagaglalal. The mark of Euro-American settlers is also clear: Horsethief Lake was created by the Dalles Dam, and parts of the Dalles Mountain Ranch, including farm equipment, is still around for hikers to explore.

As for the camping, it’s relatively limited, but interesting: four standard campsites, eight partial-hookup sites, four walk-in sites, a teepee, and two platform tent sites,

85 WA-14
Lyle, WA 98635