Fort Worden campground reservation system changing, starting in February

Patrick J. Sullivan psullivan@ptleader.com
Posted 12/6/16

The process for making a campground reservation at Fort Worden State Park is changing in 2017.

Although Fort Worden is treated as a unique park in the state system, effective in late February …

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Fort Worden campground reservation system changing, starting in February

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The process for making a campground reservation at Fort Worden State Park is changing in 2017.

Although Fort Worden is treated as a unique park in the state system, effective in late February 2017, campground reservations are to be made with the same system shared by more than 80 other Washington State Parks facilities.

“This is something the public has been asking for,” said Washington State Parks’ Brian Hageman, Olympic View Area parks manager responsible for Fort Worden. “Most of our camping customers also use other state parks, and it’s very unusual to have only one state park, Fort Worden, in the entire system not on the reservation system.”

The Fort Worden Public Development Authority leases the upper campus at Fort Worden, and since 2014 has been handling campground reservations, too. Fort Worden has 80 campsites: 50 in the beach area and 30 in the mostly forested upper campground.

Dave Robison, PDA director, said the goal has been to make the guest check-in desk at the Fort Worden Commons a one-stop place for reserving all types of accommodations, including the campgrounds. However, the PDA’s reservation system is not “robust” enough to link directly with the Washington State Parks’ online reservation system.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission approved the campground reservation change in September, and Robison acknowledged it makes sense logistically.

“We will still handle walk-in reservations for the campgrounds,” Robison said of the PDA’s guest services. “People who are planning in advance, especially those who want a specific campsite, which many people do, will use the State Parks campground reservation system.”

Campsite reservations for Fort Worden’s two campgrounds were halted effective Oct. 1. Between now and Jan. 30, 2017, no new campground reservations are being taken, by the state or the PDA. Sites are available during this time period on a first-come, first-served basis directly from Fort Worden. All reservations in the system are being honored.

LATE FEBRUARY

Although Feb. 1 was presented in a press release from State Parks headquarters as the date when the Fort Worden reservation system would change, Hageman said the technology contractor said the estimated start date is Feb. 23.

When the transition of the reservation system is complete, Fort Worden joins more than 80 other state park campgrounds available for reservation through a toll-free phone number, 888-CAMP

OUT (888-226-7688) or online at parks.state.wa.us/223/Reservations.

The statewide campground system includes photographs and campsite descriptions, Hageman noted. “It’s going to help our volunteer campground hosts because so many of our campground customers want specific campsites, and the state reservation system makes that possible.”

Hageman said the changeover is being made during the slow season for reservations.

“People understand; for two years we’ve had a lot of complaints about how frustrating our current [campground reservation] system is not connected to the statewide system,” Hageman said. “This is the time of year to make a change.”

Only campground reservations are changing. Fort Worden vacation housing accommodations are still obtained directly from the PDA at 344-4434 or

fortworden.org.

TENT SITES

In other campground related news, the five “walk-in, bike-in” tent camping sites near the upper campground have been removed, and the area planted with native vegetation. The small sites were in among the trees off a trail between a parking lot and the upper campground.

Hageman said the sites were becoming problem areas, with people using them without paying, and leaving behind trash and drug paraphernalia.

Instead, at least three walk-in, bike-in tent sites are being created at the beach campground.

“We don’t get a lot of people using these type of sites,” Hageman noted. “Putting them closer to the beach in a more open area will allow them to be more secure for our guests, and we’re hoping to have less crime and drug paraphernalia.”

BEACH ROAD GATE

Washington State Parks also has plans to add a security gate on the beach road, just past the beach campground entrance, which could be locked after dusk to limit access by vehicle to the Battery Kinzie parking lot, for example.

A gate site has been pre-inspected, but the project has not been formally approved, Hageman noted.

“All the Washington State Parks’ areas are closed at dusk,” Hageman noted. “We think we need a gate down there to help people realize those areas do close at dusk. Our night rangers, on their last patrol, saw a lot of people in that area where they should not be at night.”

There are no streetlights along the beach road, and there has been persistent problems with graffiti and broken glass on the concrete at Battery Kinzie.

If and when the U.S. Lighthouse Society opens the Point Wilson Lighthouse as an accommodation venue, access would be made possible, Hageman noted.

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