Overview of Fort Worden Reef

Fort Worden Reef

USA West


In the background of the intro picture, you can see the Science Center within Fort Worden. The reef is just beyond and off the beach area. Made of old tires, the artificial reef is replete with sea life; you never know what you'll find lurking in those old tires! Be careful not to disturb the area, as the reef is still young and fragile.

Directions: Located in Port Townsend, drive into the town on Water Street, and turn left on Cass Street, which will turn into Cherry Street. The Fort will appear in about a mile.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

01/26/2009 Kava (Avg: 4.19 Review) - Wonderful! I was wondering where all the nidibranches went in the winter. I saw 4 or 5 rare types here in one 40 min dive. This site is way better than Les Davies but way less visited. Better vis, cleaner reef. You'll find some tire reef and some concrete piling reef.

11/11/2004 Edward J. Palumbo (Avg: 4.08 Review) - This site provides easy entry and egress from the moderately sloped beach or the boat ramp of the Marine Science Center. The current is a consideration, so check the tide tables (found in the local phone book). A dive kayak is unnecessary, but it's a fine paddling opportunity as well. Water temperatures during my mid-week, late July visits were 52-53 degrees F. Viz was 25+ feet. Bottom life was healthy, with basket stars, decorator crabs, kelp crabs and sea cucumbers in abundance, with a lemon nudibranch on seaweed-covered rock. I was briefly investigated by a seal, which then moved purposefully toward the anemone-covered pilings of the Science Center, where I later observed her with a seal pup. Timing (and a north-to-south current) did not favor a second entry from the same position on the beach, so I moved 220-250 yds further north, entered and drifted back toward the MSC. The reef appeared to be healthy and relatively undisturbed at a depth of 27 fsw. I'm convinced this would be an interesting night dive. Drifting further south, I took the time to slowly explore the pilings at the science center, which was a great photo opportunity. Parking was free (unusual for a state park), and there were restrooms and a snack shop nearby. Air refills and last-minute accessories are available at the Port Townsend Dive Shop. The area offers shopping, restaurants and lodging for every wallet. For those who plan well in advance, very affordable lodging is available at Fort Worden, a former US Army artillery installation that guarded the entrance of the Puget Sound, now administered by the State of Washington with a year-round reservation system for camping and indoor lodging (www.olympus.net/ftworden). I hope to return to Port Townsend and Fort Worden to check on the progress of the reef and explore another site not far away. I brought a dive kayak with me, and the boat ramp simplified launch and return to the parking area, but kayaks are available for rent in Port Townsend, a short distance away. I recommend the area for divers with nondiving spouses or youngsters, because there's something for all family members to enjoy and it's a fine weekend escape, but the area is popular and hotels & motels fill quickly, so plan ahead.

03/12/2003 Curt Johnson (Avg: 3.53 Review) - This is primarily a sandy bottom with some artificial reef debris scattered around. I dive this because I enjoy anchoring my boat here. The view of the lighthouse and all of the ship and boat traffic I find entertaining. In addition to the expected fish, I have seen some huge crab here. It is a relatively shallow dive, that I find perfectly enjoyable.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: WA2201


Entrance at Fort Worden Reef 

Upon entering Fort Worden, turn right just before the tennis courts, and head toward the water. At the T in the road, turn left and wind down to Science Center.


 Map     Sat
GPS: WA2202


Parking at Fort Worden Reef 

You'll find plenty of parking here. Note the restrooms in the background.




Overview at Fort Worden Reef 

This is a view from the Science Center wharf. An easy boat-ramp entry is just before the breakwater.


 Map     Sat
GPS: WA2204


Entry at Fort Worden Reef 

You may enter here at the boat ramp to explore the outer pilings of the wharf. Be careful, of course, for boat traffic, and be aware of stray fishing line that could entangle you.


 Map     Sat
GPS: WA2205


Entry at Fort Worden Reef 

Or you may enter about 200 yards further down the beach to access the reef, where you will see a white buoy marking its location. Kick out for a few minutes and drop down to explore the many residents of 'Tire City'.

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Fort Worden Reef  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  5.00
Bottom Conditions:  3.67
Reef Conditions:  3.33
Animal Life:  3.67
Plant Life:  3.33
Facilities:  5.00
Solitude 4.33
Roads:  4.67
*Site Average:  3.93

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.67
Beginner Scuba:  3.67
Intermediate Scuba:  4.00
Advanced Scuba:  3.67
Night diving Scuba:  4.00

Number of reviews for this site: 3


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