Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
From 1825 to 1849, Fort Vancouver was the western headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company's fur trading operations. Under the leadership of John McLoughlin, the fort became the center of political, cultural, commercial and manufacturing activities in the Pacific Northwest. When American pioneers arrived in the Oregon country during the 1830's and 1840's, they came to Fort Vancouver for supplies to begin their farms.
Highest in June, July and August; lowest in December and January.
Operating Hours, Seasons:
Daily, summer (early May - late September): 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; daily, winter (late September - early May); 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed November 24, December 24, December 25 and January 1.
Fees, Costs, Rates:
Admission is charged to the fort site during the summer season (early May through late September). It is $2.00 per person or $4.00 per family. Ages 16 and under are free. Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access permits are honored and available for sale during fee season.
Reservations for school or other groups in excess of 15 people, visiting March through July, should be made at least three months ahead of time. At least one month's notice and an application for special use permits are required. Filming permits are arranged on an individual basis (based on the size of the project, whether it's a movie, commercial, etc., how many park personnel will be involved and how much time will be required). For group reservations call (360) 696-7655, ext. 17. For additional special use permits call (360) 696-7659, ext. 14.
Facilities and Opportunities
A 12 minute introductory video, museum exhibits and sales area are in the visitor center. Nine major buildings and features have been reconstructed and appropriately furnished. See special events section for tour details. The grounds have a park area which has large grassy areas available for leisure and picnicking. Picnic tables are located throughout. There is also a covered picnic shelter and a small playground. However, there is no camping, lodging or concessions on site. A wide variety of hotels, motels, restaurants and grocery stores are located nearby. Camping is available with ten miles.
All park structures and facilities, excluding one building at the fort, are accessible to wheelchairs.
Parking areas are available at the fort and visitor center for buses and visitor vehicles.
Recommended Activities/Park Use:
Touring the visitor center and the fort to experience life at the fort in the mid 1800's. Picnicking and strolling on the scenic grounds are also recommended.
Basic Visit Recommendations:
Stay from two-to-three hours, or up to four hours during special events.
Special Events, Programs:
Queen Victoria's Birthday - usually the 4th Sunday in May, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., celebrate the birthday of the renowned Queen with her loyal subjects of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Brigade Encampment - On the third or fourth weekend in July (Saturday and Sunday), from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., experience the annual return of the trapping brigades and witness their adventurous way of life.
Founder's Day - August 25 of every year, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., commemorate the establishment of the National Park Service. Fees are waived on this day.
Candlelight Tour - First weekend in October (Friday and Saturday), from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the fort is illuminated by candles to allow you to experience the night life and activities of 1845.
Christmas at Fort Vancouver - Second or third Sunday in December, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., come participate in the festive traditional sight, smells and sounds of the holiday season.
Regular programs include one hour tours of the fort buildings led daily throughout the year on the hour, and during summer months on the half-hour as well as the hour. The blacksmith shop provides continuous cultural demonstrations year-round, on Thursdays through Mondays (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). Daily, continuous, cultural demonstrations are provided in other fort buildings during the summer months and occasionally during fall, winter and spring. Access to some buildings is available only by participating in a tour. Other buildings and features are available for "self-serve".
The park's visitor center shows a 12 minute introductory video, and contains a museum/exhibit area and sales outlet which specializes in period reproductions of trade and living items of the mid 1800's.
Call park visitor center for additional information on programs and exact dates of special events, (360) 696-7655, ext. 17.
Climate, Recommended Clothing:
Cool and rainy fall, winter and spring. Warm, mostly dry summers. Wear comfortable sportswear with rain protection in fall, winter and spring and walking shoes at all times.
Due to the archeological sensitivity of the site, the use of metal detectors or digging of any type is prohibited. Pets are required to be leashed at all times and are prohibited in the fort area. Smoking is not allowed in the fort area or other park buildings.
Adjacent Visitor Attractions:
Fort Vancouver NHS is an integral part of the recently formed Vancouver National Historic Reserve (1996). Also included in the Reserve, and operated by the City of Vancouver are the Marshall and Grant Houses with public facilities and small museums as part of Officer's Row, a National Historic District. Officer's Row and associated structures are restored to early 20th Century, United States Army officer's quarters. Pearson Air Museum has exhibits specializing in the historic aviation of the area. The Clark County Historical Museum is also of interest to history buffs. Directions and additional information for these are available at the visitor center.
Visitors traveling on I-5 (from north and south) take exit 1C, Mill Plain Boulevard, then follow brown directional signs to fort visitor center on Evergreen Boulevard. Rangers and volunteers at the visitor center will provide additional information on experiencing the site.
To Park: access by I-5 and various state roads; Portland, Oregon is serviced by an international airport, and along with Vancouver, Washington, is serviced by bus and Amtrak stations.
In Park: personal vehicle, bicycle or foot.
612 E. Reserve Street
Vancouver, WA 98661
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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