A little northwest of downtown Tacoma is the 702 acre Point Defiance Park. It's a city park…a giant city park. 702 acres puts it at one of the biggest city parks in the country. It sits on its own peninsula, jetting out into the south Puget Sound, pointing across the water to Gig Harbor & northward to Vashon Island. There is tons of stuff to do at the park - the Zoo & Aquarium, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Rhododendron Garden, beaches, trails, lots of picnic spots, dog park, Fort Nisqually (long story), ferry dock, boat ramp, boathouse, and more.
If you park near the boathouse & marina there's quite a few places to launch a kayak (there's also a boat ramp for trailered boats). A lot of the docks were nice and low…perfect for paddle-craft. It didn't really seem like you'd have to pay a launch fee, however, it's always a good idea to check the message boards at the boat ramp just in case.
A look across the water to the north reveals the southern tip of Vashon Island. The Tahlequah ferry route takes you from Point Defiance to Tahlequah on Vashon (who knew there was a ferry dock here?).
The park is big - don't get lost! We parked at the boathouse, walked down the beach to Owen beach & back, then got back in the car and drove to the Nisqually Fort area. It's cool to read about the history of the park on the boards near the boathouse - this was the place to be in the 1800s!
Huh, a giant fort in the park. Interesting. Luckily, we had just visited the Nisqually National Wildlife Reserve (our post here) so it kinda all made sense! The fort here is part replica, part relocation of the original fort 17 miles away near the Nisqually delta (it's not there anymore). Historically, this was the first European settlement in the Puget Sound. There's tons of info here from a friendly and knowledgable staff - we'll be back to take the tour soon. Check out more at their website.
Just past the fort is the dog-park and trails that lead out to a great Tacoma Narrows lookout…watch your step - it's a long way down from these cliffs!
Pow. A sweet view of the Narrows from the edge of the park. The Tacoma Narrows bridge is in the distance (I think of this video every time I see it). There's also a tall power-line tower looking thingy to the right of the bridge…that's actually a tower with lines bringing electricity all the way from the Cushman Dam (Oh ya, I remember that place).
So, I think we've settled any uncertainty you might have about spending the day at Point Defiance Park. We did it without even showing you pics from the zoo, aquarium, & gardens. It's a cool place, check it out.
~Paul & Micah ETC
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