Amenities

Basketball Courts Drinking fountains Views Tennis Courts Trails Restrooms Volleyball Courts Play Area

About

Discovery Park is a 534 acre natural area park operated by the Seattle Parks and Recreation. It is the largest city park in Seattle, and occupies most of the former Fort Lawton site. The site is one of breathtaking majesty. Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, Discovery Park offers spectacular view of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. The secluded site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams. The role of Discovery Park is to provide an open space of quiet and tranquility away from the stress and activity of the city, a sanctuary for wildlife, as well as an outdoor classroom for people to learn about the natural world. Maintained in its semi-natural condition the park will continue to offer a biologically rich and diverse natural area for urban dwellers and an unmatched opportunity for environmental education. 

Boating access available at 100' of shoreline north of the West Point Lighthouse and 100' of shoreline south of the West Point Lighthouse. Access is restricted to boats arriving by water only.

In 2017, a renovation project updated the play area equipment, improved safety, increased play area accessibility in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and provided new picnic tables and seating. Play equipment includes climbing structures, a zip line, swings, and structures that resemble tree houses. The project ensures ADA access and maintenance access to the playground area from park pathways. The play area equipment is appropriate for children of all abilities, including toddlers and older children. The new equipment is composed of materials which can withstand the elements.

Environmental Learning

Be sure to check out the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center on your next visit to access trail maps and to get more information on Environmental Education Programs happening at Discovery Park and across Seattle.

Indigenous Land, People & Cultures

Indigenous Duwamish and other Coast Salish peoples have been living in what we know as the city of Seattle since Time Immemorial - anancient time extending beyond the reach of human memory - and many Duwamish and Coast Salish people still live here today.

It is important to remember & honor the fact that our parks are on lands & waters of Salish Sea peoples; to remember that Indigenous people have stewarded these lands & waters we love for thousands of years before their forced removal and it's settlement by newly arrived White Euro-Americans. 

Indigenous people have and continue to make great contributions to the social, political and ecological fabric of US culture.

As people who make our lives on this land today, it is important to recognize that the original caretakers: the Duwamish and many other Coast Salish Tribes are still unrecognized by the U.S. Federal Government. For those first nations who have been recognized by the Federal Government, the treaty agreements made are still not fully honored, which limits access to resources such as healthcare, food sovereignty, and economic opportunities.

Discovery Park is home to a richness of history.  There is no doubt that the park holds a particular fondness for Seattleites and international visitors alike. While Discovery Park is well-known for its Military History, much less is known about its indigenous, pre-settlement history.  For example, West Point has not always been called "West Point" - this is a name that has only been used for the past ~175 years. The original name for this place is PKa'dz Eltue (phonically: pa-uq-dz-al-tsu) meaning "thrust far out."  

Ancestors of the Duwamish, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations were active in this place; meeting, trading, sharing stories, gathering and preparing food for at least 4,000 and up to 10,000 years - since the ending of the last glacial period. 

For thousands of years, Indigenous people returned (and still return) to the beaches below the bluff.  Resources here were abundant.  Large game such as elk and deer
roamed on the bluffs above; fish, marine mammals & seafood could be caught and gathered off the shore.  Stones were collected on the beach to be used for tools. 

Evidence from the 1992 Archeological Dig at West Point indicates that entire tool kits were kept and maintained for woodworking items such as canoes, tools, homes &
utensils. Bones, antlers and shells were also very important tool materials.

While geological changes in topography slowly changed how this space was used by indigenous people, the biggest, most rapid change came with the growing presence of Euro-American settlers and the forced removal of indigenous peoples to reservations with the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot. 

Although indigenous Americans no longer gather foods traditionally along PKa'dz Eltue, federally-recognized nations play a vital role in the management of natural resources for creating sustainable, long-term use for both native & non-native Americans. 

For more information please visit https://www.burkemuseum.org/static/westpoint/ and local indigenous education centers.

Bernie Whitebear, United Indians of All Tribes and Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center

Shortly after the Point Elliot Treaty of 1885, PKa'dz Eltue became a US military base for nearly 80 years through World War I, World War II and the Korean War. 

In 1965, a bill was introduced by Congressman Brock Adams to cede ownership of the military land to the City of Seattle with a vision of it becoming a city park. 

The United Indians People's Council made a claim on Fort Lawton, citing rights under 1865 US-Indian treaties, that promised "the reversion of surplus military land to their original landowners."

On March 8th 1970, the nonviolent demonstration began.  Led by Bernie Whitebear (Sin Aikst), Bob Satiacum (Puyallup) and indigenous peoples of Western Washington, 100+ Native Americans and supporters occupied areas of Fort Lawton using a base camp just outside the fence line.  Famous supporters such as Jane Fonda and Black Panther chapter of Seattle helped increase national attention to the cause. 

Four months later, the occupation ended peacefully.  Negotiations continued until it was decided a new park would be created for the greater public and the United Indians People's Council would receive a 99-year lease for 20 acres of the surplus land to become a cultural center.

The United Indians People's Council continued organizing and formally became the United Indians of All Tribes.

A longtime vision of "an urban base for Native Americans in Seattle," Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center was completed in 1977.

For more information please visit The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center https://www.unitedindians.org/

For a more detailed history please visit the UW Archives: https://depts.washington.edu/civilr/FtLawton_takeover.htm

More Discovery Park History

Fort Lawton & Discovery Park History: Fort Lawton originally occupied much of the northwestern part of Magnolia Bluff.

West Point Lighthouse

Discovery Park is home to one of the 18 active lighthouses in Washington State. West Point Lighthouse was established in 1881 and can be viewed from the South Beach Trail in the park. More information about the West Point Lighthouse can be found at the Friends of Discovery Park webpage including this educational video.

Join the Discovery Park Advisory Council

Learn more here

Discovery Park Master Plan

"The master plan, we believe, lays down guidelines which, if followed faithfully, cannot fail to create on this site a park which will be one of the great urban parks of the world-and a joy to this city forever."

Capehart Forest and Wildlife Viewing Trails

Thanks to all who came out for the grand opening celebration of Capehart Forest on May 11. The Capehart site is a 15 - 20 minute walk from any parking lot at Discovery Park. Official Trail Guide Map

The newest addition to Discovery Park, Capehart Forest is the result of intensive restoration efforts by volunteers and partners over 10 years.  A former military housing development known as Capehart was originally on the site; in 2007, the city purchased the parcel for $11.1 million. With funding from the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy and the Westpoint Treatment Plant mitigation funding, SPR removed the housing foundations, the road network, and other infrastructure, and regraded the property. SPR converted the property to a meadow consistent with the Discovery Park Master Plan. Volunteers, SPR staff, non-profit and private partners, in collaboration with the Green Seattle Partnership, pursued an intensive reforestation plan. 

In 2017, The Friends of Discovery Park saw the need for official trails through the Capehart site to protect the restoration efforts and to mitigate social trails. They received a Department of Neighborhoods Neighborhood Matching Fund award for $100,000. This funding allowed for the installation of two permanent trails and zero or low maintenance, naturally appearing barriers that will be impediments to off-trail activities. Additionally, a new cross walk was installed at the end of one trail across Discovery Park Blvd. The Seattle Parks Foundation provided an additional $155,000 in funding for this phase of work.  In early April 2018 the trails were unofficially opened to the public.

Discovery Park South Beach Trail Report

The report is complete. Thank you to everyone who participated in the public process for the South Beach Trail, connecting the Loop Trail to West Point and South Beach at Discovery Park. Find more information here in the Discovery Park South Beach Trail Design Report.

For additional information contact Pamela Kliment at Pamela.Kliment@seattle.gov


For information on the King County project at West Point Treatment Plant visit Water Reservoir Modifications Project - 2019.

Have your special ceremony here!

You can schedule an outdoor ceremony in almost any of our 400 parks, but this particular location is especially well suited for outdoor ceremonies. Please visit our outdoor ceremonies reservations site for more information.

Pickleball Conversion Pilot

Seattle Parks and Recreation's Planning and Development Division lead a pilot project to implement lining of multiple tennis court sites for pickleball. The sites were lined for shared use by both pickleball and tennis players. There were no changes made to the tennis nets. The tennis court sites were selected based on demand for more pickleball and the following feasibility criteria: accessibility, current court use, existing court conditions, and equitable distribution.

The following courts were lined for pickleball:

  • Delridge Community Center in southwest district 
  • Walt Hundley Playfield in southeast district
  • Discovery Park Court in central-west district
  • Georgetown Playfield in south-central district 
  • Green Lake Park in central-north district  
  • Miller Community Center in central-east district 
  • Soundview Playfield in northwest district
  • South Park Community Center in southwest district

View the Pickleball Pilot Study Report here.