Fort Simcoe State Park is a 200-acre, day-use heritage park in south central Washington on the Yakama Indian Nation Reservation. The park is primarily an interpretive effort, telling the story of mid-19th century army life and providing insights into the lifeways of local Native American culture. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in an old oak grove watered by natural springs, Fort Simcoe was an 1850's-era military installation established to keep peace between the settlers and the Indians. Due to its unique historic significance, the park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in June, 1974. Before the fort era, the site was an Indian campground where many trails crossed. This park's primary feature is its rich interpretive opportunities, which explore mid-19th century life and the clash of cultures that took place when settlers and Indians vied for the same territory.
Summer: 6:30 a.m. to dusk.Winter: 8 a.m. to dusk; open for day use weekends and holidays only from Sept. 29 through March 20.
Nature of the Area
Wildlife Mammals Birds Fish & Sea Life? Badgers? Bears? Bobcats? Coyotes? Deer or Elk? Rabbits? Raccoons? Squirrels? Crows or Ravens? Doves or Pigeons? Ducks? Eagles? Hawks? Herons? Hummingbirds? Jays? Owls? Pheasants? Quail? Woodpeckers? Wrens
Environmental Features Physical Features Plant Life? Apple? Maple? Oak? Daisy? Lupines? Rose? Berries? Thistle
History of the Area
The fort is located on the Yakama Reservation. The site was a meeting, trade and culture center for prehistoric native tribes from areas all around the present state of Washington. Prior to 1850, the park was used as a trade center and campground for the various bands of Native Americans that now make up the Yakama Indian Nation. The fort was built in the late 1850s and was in use for three years. In 1859, the military turned the fort over to the Yakama Indian Agency. The fort was then converted to an Indian school and the Yakama Indian Agency managed its affairs from the site until the early 1900s. The park was established in 1956.
Available in the area ? Gasoline? Gifts? Groceries? Postal service
Most services are within a few miles of the park. Fort Simcoe has a small book store located in the park's interpretive center.
A group camp overlooks the fort and parade ground accommodates 50 guests and six RVs. For reservations, contact the park at (509) 874-2372.
The park provides four sheltered and 45 unsheltered picnic tables. Restrooms, running water, and ample parking are available, with no fees. Tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The park has an interpretive center and three officer's buildings that are open to the public from April 1 to Oct. 1, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. The entire park is of interpretive value. Group tours are offered for a fee. Tours the rest of the year may be made by appointment; call (509) 874-2372.
Five original buildings are still standing at the fort: the commander's house, three captain's houses and a blockhouse. Various other buildings have been recreated to appear original. Houses are filled with period furnishings.
A free family weekend in June celebrates military and Fort Simcoe History. Events may include military re-enactors and living history specialists, traditional tribal dancers, flag raising ceremony, military displays, antique car shows, free cake and refreshments. Call the park for dates and details at (509) 874-2372.
From Yakima:Take the Hwy. 97 exit off of I-82 (south bound), and drive to the first traffic light (Lateral A). Turn right onto Lateral A. Drive to the second stop sign, about 12 miles (Fort Rd.) Turn right on Fort Road. Drive about 15 miles to the city of White Swan. In White Swan, watch for road signs to Fort Simcoe. The park is seven miles west of White Swan.
From Toppenish:Off of Hwy. 97 in Toppenish (north or south bound), take Fort Simcoe Rd. west. Drive about 20 miles to the city of White Swan. In White Swan, watch for signs to Fort Simcoe State Park. Fort Simcoe is seven miles west of White Swan.