Camping and exploring at Fort Stevens State Park in Hammond, Oregon (near Astoria) is such a fun experience no matter what age you are! The area is rich in history, adventure, and wide open spaces! It’s also home to the Peter Iredale shipwreck which has been some of my most popular content on my site!
Although I’ve lived in the south and Midwest, I have found my way back to this park several times over the past decade. My entire family is huge fans of the Goonies (filmed in Astoria), so Fort Stevens State Park is a GREAT place to camp and explore nearby.
The state park is located at the mouth of the Columbia River and expands almost 4300 acres! My first visit there I made the mistake of leaving just one short day to visit the park so the next time I made it out there we decided to camp on site and leave more time to explore!
Exploring Fort Stevens:
Fort Stevens was the primary military defense system on the Columbia River from the Civil War through World War 2. There’s a great museum on site full of displays and even a military vehicle you can climb into! Most of the fort and military structures can be self-explored! Any areas you are not allowed are clearly marked off – mostly due to deterioration and safety issues.
There are two things I really love about Fort Stevens:
- The beach!
- Exploring the fort!
Of course there are so many things to do here, but those are my two favorites! I do recommend, however, that you bring sweatshirts and/or rain gear if you plan on exploring because the weather on the coast can be quite chilly, windy and wet!
I highly recommend bringing a flashlight (or use a flashlight app on your phone) as tunnels can be dark! If you love urban exploring our country’s old military forts like this are fantastic places to explore! (Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida is another great fort similar to Fort Stevens.)
Fort Stevens was the first military fort my kids really remember exploring. It’s amazing to see how visiting a location like this can really capture their interest far more than a history textbook in school! It really makes tangible locations come alive for them.
Fort Stevens is the only Civil War era earthen fort on the west coast and as you can see in these photos many of the structures and concrete artillery gun batteries are open for exploration. In the summer time they even offer underground tours but you need to call ahead of time.
Unfortunately we were not able to line up a tour with the dates we were in the area but I definitely want to take one the next time we go back!
You can see the toll time and weather has taken on the fort. I really appreciate that most of the structures are still open for walking through though!
Make sure to wear good walking shoes when you visit Fort Stevens Stat Park as there are 15 miles of multi-use trails in the park! There’s even a disc golf course and a freshwater lake (Coffenbury Lake) which allows swimming, kayaking, fishing (stocked with rainbow trout) and boating.
And of course there’s the beach too! Everything in Fort Stevens is clearly marked so you don’t need my directions to get around! Once you drive into the state park just look for the large signs pointing you in the direction you need to go. It’s so much larger than I had expected it to be!
My kids here were 4, 9, and 11 years old when we visited and they all had a great time! This vehicle near the visitor’s center was especially cool for my kids to climb into!
Throughout our road trips across the USA we have come across quite a few areas where Meriwether Lewis had been. Battery Lewis was built in Fort Stevens in the late 1800’s and was of course, named after Captain Meriwether Lewis.
It was deactivated in the early 1900s. It is a two story battery containing a shot room, a powder room, shot chambers, and tool rooms (although there are no guns currently on display in this battery).
Just walking through the fort you can imagine how huge the guns and equipment would have needed to be to fit mounts inside the fort. Imagine the work it would have taken in the 1800’s to put these weapons into place!
The Peter Iredale Shipwreck:
Another popular “attraction” inside Fort Stevens State Park is this famous shipwreck. This is some of the remains of the Peter Iredale shipwreck. You can see more photos and read more about its history here.
This area of the northern Oregon coast is known as what has been called the “graveyard of the Pacific”. We’re talking over 2000 shipwrecks in this area alone! If you’re interested in more shipwrecks that you can view and explore without getting wet read our article here!
Camping in Fort Stevens State Park:
The Fort Stevens campground is one of the largest campgrounds in the Oregon State Park system. It has over 500 campsites (including yurts and deluxe cabins!) and can accommodate everything from RVs to hikers! We tent camped during our stay here. You can get reservations for the campground here. We spent roughly $40ish/night with hookups and dump station.