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Fort Vancouver National Historical Site

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Fort Vancouver National Historical Site

Located in Fort Vancouver, Washington, the Fort Vancouver National Historical Site is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. This site offers a glimpse into the rich history of the area, with exhibits and artifacts that bring the past to life. If you’re planning a visit, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the fort, learn about its significance, and even participate in special events held throughout the year. With plenty of things to do and see, a trip to the Fort Vancouver National Historical Site is an educational and enjoyable experience for all. Don’t miss out on the chance to immerse yourself in this fascinating piece of history.

History of Fort Vancouver

Establishment of the fort

Back in the early 19th century, the establishment of Fort Vancouver marked a significant chapter in the history of the Pacific Northwest. It was built in 1825 by the Hudson’s Bay Company under the command of Chief Factor John McLoughlin. Situated strategically along the Columbia River, the fort was intended to serve as the headquarters of the company’s Columbia Department, overseeing fur trading operations in the region.

Role as a fur trading post

Undoubtedly, Fort Vancouver played a pivotal role as a fur trading post during its early years. It served as a hub for the lucrative fur trade industry, with trappers and traders from various backgrounds converging here to exchange valuable pelts. The fort became a bustling center of commerce and cultural exchange, with a diverse community that included employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Native Americans, French Canadians, and many others.

Hudson’s Bay Company era

The Hudson’s Bay Company era at Fort Vancouver spanned from its establishment in 1825 until the 1840s. The company, being a dominant force in the fur trade industry, wielded significant influence in the region. Fort Vancouver served as the company’s headquarters and transportation hub, facilitating the movement of goods and supplies between ships on the Columbia River and the company’s inland trading posts.

American military occupation

Following the Oregon Treaty of 1846, the ownership of Fort Vancouver was transferred to the United States, marking the beginning of the American military occupation era. The fort became a crucial supply depot for American soldiers stationed in the Pacific Northwest. Its strategic location and vast resources made it an ideal base for military operations, especially during the Indian Wars of the 1850s.

Visiting The Fort


Fort Vancouver is conveniently located in Vancouver, Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Its address is 1001 E 5th Street Vancouver, WA 98661.

Hours of operation

The fort welcomes visitors with open arms and offers generous hours of operation throughout the year. You can explore this historical site any day of the week, from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Entrance fee

To keep the fort well-maintained and accessible to all, an entrance fee is in place. The cost for adults is $10 per person. However, children 15 years and younger are admitted free of charge.

Guided tours

For a more enriching experience, guided tours are available at Fort Vancouver. Well-trained and knowledgeable guides will take you on a journey through history, providing valuable insights and sharing captivating stories of the fort’s past. These tours are an excellent way to delve deeper into the rich history of the fort.

Visiting Hours

Regular hours

Fort Vancouver’s regular visiting hours are from 9:00am to 5:00pm, seven days a week. Whether you are a local resident or a visitor from afar, these hours provide ample opportunity to explore and immerse yourself in this historical gem.

Holiday closures

While the fort is open for the majority of the year, there are a few days when it is closed due to major holidays. Be sure to plan your visit accordingly, as Fort Vancouver is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Seasonal variations

It’s worth noting that the fort’s operations may vary slightly depending on the season. While the regular visiting hours mentioned above remain consistent, certain programs and activities may be adjusted during colder months or on days with inclement weather. Always check the official website for updates to ensure you can make the most of your visit.

How Much Does it Cost

Entrance fee for adults

To gain access to Fort Vancouver, adults are required to pay an entrance fee of $10 per person. This fee supports the maintenance and preservation of the fort, ensuring that future generations can continue to appreciate its historical significance.

Fees for children and seniors

Good news for parents and seniors – children aged 15 and younger can enter the fort free of charge! Additionally, seniors aged 62 and older receive a discounted entrance fee of $7 per person. Fort Vancouver aims to be inclusive and affordable for people of all ages.

Group rates

Are you planning a visit with a group of friends, family, or students? Fort Vancouver offers special rates for groups of 15 or more. To inquire about group rates and make arrangements for your visit, please contact the site directly for more information.

Special discounts

Fort Vancouver also offers special discounts for active duty military personnel and their dependents. Proof of military identification is required to avail this discount. Additionally, the fort occasionally offers promotional discounts and deals, so keep an eye out for any ongoing offers that might make your visit even more enjoyable.

Things to do at the Fort

Self-guided exploration

One of the best ways to experience Fort Vancouver is through self-guided exploration. Wander through the historic buildings, stroll along the reconstructed palisade, and imagine life during the fort’s bustling trading era. With informative signage and a visitor’s guide, you’ll have all the information you need to uncover the rich history of this remarkable place.

Ranger-led activities

For those seeking a more immersive experience, Fort Vancouver offers ranger-led activities. Join in on a guided walk, where rangers will share captivating stories and anecdotes, bringing the history of the fort to life. These walking tours are a fantastic opportunity to engage with knowledgeable experts and gain a deeper understanding of the fort’s role in shaping the region.

Fort exhibitions

Immerse yourself in the engaging exhibitions at Fort Vancouver, where you can explore artifacts, documents, and interactive displays that showcase the fort’s history. Marvel at the collection of historical items that offer a glimpse into the lives of the people who lived and worked at the fort, truly bringing the past to life.

Living history demonstrations

To truly transport yourself back in time, don’t miss the living history demonstrations at Fort Vancouver. Experience firsthand what life was like for the fur traders, blacksmiths, and other residents of the fort as skilled reenactors bring their stories to life. From traditional craft demonstrations to musket firings, these interactive experiences offer a unique and engaging glimpse into the past.

Special Events at the Fort

Annual events

Throughout the year, Fort Vancouver hosts a variety of special events that celebrate its rich history and cultural heritage. From the Independence Day at the Fort celebration to the Lantern Tour during the holiday season, these annual events provide a unique opportunity to experience the fort’s historical significance in a festive and engaging atmosphere.

Educational programs

Fort Vancouver takes pride in its commitment to education and offers a range of educational programs for students of all ages. From school field trips to specialized workshops, these programs provide an immersive learning experience that integrates history, culture, and hands-on activities. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or homeschooling parent, these educational programs offer a unique way to connect with history.

Art and cultural festivals

In addition to its historical significance, Fort Vancouver also celebrates the rich artistic and cultural diversity of the region through various festivals and events. From art exhibitions and musical performances to traditional dances and cultural displays, these festivals showcase the many vibrant facets of the community, providing a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.

Military reenactments

For history enthusiasts and military buffs alike, Fort Vancouver offers exciting military reenactments throughout the year. Witness the sights and sounds of soldiers in uniform, reenacting crucial moments from the fort’s military occupation era. These thrilling demonstrations offer a unique opportunity to step into the past and gain a deeper appreciation for the fort’s role in shaping regional history.

Where to Stay Near The Fort

Local accommodations

If you’re looking to stay near Fort Vancouver, you’ll find a variety of local accommodations to suit your needs. From cozy bed and breakfasts to contemporary hotels, the surrounding area provides a range of options for lodging. Enjoy the comfort and convenience of these accommodations while being just a short distance away from exploring the rich history of Fort Vancouver.

Hotels and motels

For those seeking modern amenities and easy access to Fort Vancouver, numerous hotels and motels can be found in the vicinity. Whether you prefer luxury accommodations or budget-friendly options, you’ll find a wide range of choices to suit your preferences and ensure a comfortable stay.

Campgrounds and RV parks

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the nearby campgrounds and RV parks, offering a chance to fully immerse themselves in the surrounding natural beauty. These facilities provide a unique opportunity to combine the historical exploration of Fort Vancouver with the adventure of camping and outdoor activities.

Bed and breakfasts

For a cozy and intimate experience, consider staying at one of the charming bed and breakfasts near Fort Vancouver. Enjoy personalized service, home-cooked breakfasts, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere as you explore the historical sites in the area.

With its rich history, engaging exhibits, and a wide range of activities, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or simply looking for an enriching cultural experience, Fort Vancouver has something to offer. Plan your visit to this remarkable site, and prepare to be transported back in time as you immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Pacific Northwest.

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