Fort Worden State Park
Campground for Campers or Tents
I did not camp here, and in fact during my most recent visit to Port Townsend the "lower camp ground" was closed for construction.
However, no review of Port Townsend would not be complete without mentioning that Fort Warden State Park has camping facilities available for those who want to spend the night in a very economical price. It should be noted that there very few dedicated tent facilities here, however: all camp sites have electric and water hookup, with a selection of them having full sewer hookup as well.
While there is nothing preventing someone from tent camping in an RV spot, the fact is that sites with full hookup are more expensive than regular tent sites, no matter if you connect something to the water or power or not.
There are five "primitive" sites (vehicles are not allowed at those, walk-in only!), with one "water trail" site, available at a somewhat lower price. These have no utility connections at all. The "water trail" site is only available to those who arrive by hand-beachable watercraft.
The "lower" campground features 50 sites that are very open to the wind and have little privacy, but are close to the beach and while not all have good views none of them are far from places with good views. The "upper" campground is on the far western edge of the developed part of the park, but is reasonably close to the old balloon hanger that serves as a performance space on some nights for the people at the Centrum arts community that also lives at this state park.
Unique Quality: It is cheapest way to spend the night in Port Townsend if there are two or more of you at a camp site (if there is only one of you then staying up the hill at the Olympic Hostel is cheaper), it is camping on the beach, and it offers a touch of nature.
If you are at the "lower" campground you are essentially staying right on the beach, while "upper" is right next to the forest.
Reserving a camp site costs an additional $8, but is well worth it during the peak seasons. There is no reason to do this during the winter months, except during very special events.
Directions: Follow signs from SW of downtown Port Townsend to the state park, then follow signs to either upper or lower campground. Bus route #2 is closer to "upper" than "lower" campgrounds.
Olympic Hostel Near the Beach, Arts and Forest
I have not stayed in the Olympic Hostel, deciding instead to splurge a little bit (at $64 a night) at a hotel located right in the center of downtown Port Townsend, but the location of Port Townsend's Hosteling International affiliated hostel seems very intriguing.
Located in one of the old Fort Warden buildings, and now in the State Park that was formed from the old grounds of the old fortress, the building is on the edge of the forest that now surrounds Artillary Hill. It is also located very near some of the Centrum facilities, making this a reasonably good location for those who are seeking temporary housing for events surrounding this arts community.
While there are a few buildings nearby the Olympic Hostel, the location appears to offer a quiet location, especially in the off season. Th location next to the forest must offer some great mornings with bird life, and even in the winter there should be a fair amount of wildlife around. Deer seem to wander the grounds at all times, even near high traffic areas in the middle of the day.
The view from here looks like it might be reasonably good from some of the windows, but not from others due to a few obstructions, plus some face the forest or park ranger quarters nearby.
Directions: Follow signs to entrance to Fort Warden from SE of downtown, then follow signs to hostel - the way is well marked in the park. Bus route #2 is very close to the hostel.
Alexanders Castle: Historic State Park Guest House
I have not stayed in this guest house, but the location and view seems like it would make it a great place to stay.
Fort Warden State Park includes two reasonably good sized campgrounds that are reasonably popular during the summer season. However, during the colder winter months there are also some good alternatives created by taking some of Fort Warden's old structures and turn them into guest houses.
Alexander's Castle predates the actual fortress construction by approximately 10-20 years: the structure was built around 1883 and the construction of the fort was started in 1897, with substantial completion of the fort about 10 years later.
John B. Alexander served as a rector at St. Paul's Episcopal Church from 1882 to 1886. He was appointed to the post of Honorary British Vice-Council at Port Townsend in 1884. At that time all ships entering Puget Sound had to stop at Port Townsend as that was the port of entry for all other ports. By 1892 Her Majesty's Government established a consulate office in Tacoma, and Mr. Alexander left Port Townsend - thus leaving his home open to sale for use as a part of the fortress.
Unique Quality: As with many state parks guest houses, you are basically required to be mostly self-sufficient in your stay here.
It's shape and size (the upper level served as a tank for water storage) as well as the slight view of Admiralty Inlet are unique.
There is a significant distance between this guest house and most of the other buildings on the state park property, giving quite a lot of privacy unless someone wanders past on the road.
Directions: After entry of the park, go back behind the large white barracks buldings. Located behind park headquarters buildings. Bus route #2 operates to the college located a short walk away.
A place to crash for 14 bucks?! Get real. It was clean, nice people, and a homelike feeling.
Just remember to bring ear plugs, or a tranquilizer, because there is always someone who snores! LOL
Unique Quality: Information desk, kitchen and linen rental (sleeping bags allowed).
It's on the water, has a nice view. Very scenic.
Directions: Office Hours: 7:30-9:30 a.m.; 5-10 p.m.; 24 hour access
2 miles north of downtown, left at Kearney stop light, follow signs to state park, up hill behind park office.
Port Townsend Travel Forum
Need advice about Port Townsend, Washington State? Visit the Travel Forum for Port Townsend and ask our Answer Gurus.