World War I created a need for more Army Bases along the California coast, and in 1917 Camp Gigling was built to take advantage of mild California weather and an ideal location on the Monterey Bay. The beaches were used for artillery target practice and maneuver training. During the 1930s, a major renovation added barracks, mess halls, and other structural improvements, and in 1940 the camp was officially converted into Fort Ord.
Fort Ord has a long history as a training facility, but its decline began 1990 when the Secretary of State cut back the number of military installations across the nation. Fort Ord officially shut down in 1994. The cessation of military operations meant the beginning of a civilian role, and soon the area was recognized for its wildlife. Fort Ord became a home for a conservation area for the endangered Smith's blue butterfly, the first such area in America dedicated to a specific insect. The endangered Contra Costa goldfields and threatened California tiger salamander are also protected in this area. In 2012, President Obama designated the area The Fort Ord National Monument.
The dunes surrounding the park are covered in beautiful, multicolored vegetation that leads you down the short path to the beach. Fort Ord has a sandy, open shoreline unencumbered by visitors. This is a great place to relax and enjoy a little solitude. Swimming, wading, and water sports are not recommended because of unpredictable rip currents. The parking lot has one picnic table and a portable restroom.