Priest Point Park is located just north of downtown Olympia on Puget Sound's Budd Inlet. The 314-acre park is dominated by native Pacific Northwest conifer forest,* 1 mile of Puget Sound saltwater tidal shoreline, and Ellis Creek and Cove.
The park's origins began as early as 1848, when Father Pascal Ricard of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate built a missionary near Ellis Cove. Called St. Joseph's of New Market, Ricard and three other priests settled the land, established a chapel, and started a local school to convert the Squaxin people to Christianity. Their indoctrination efforts were relatively unsuccessful, and the mission was primarily used for trade by other local natives, including the Nisqually, Puyallup and Snoqualmie tribes. By 1860 the mission closed. Forty-five years later in 1905, Priest Point Park became Olympia's first city park, and the park remains the city's largest.
The park features many miles of hiking trails, including the Ellis Cove Trail, a rose garden, a small sports field, a half-basketball court, large ship-themed playground, four picnic shelters, and public restrooms.
* As is typical of the Cascadia bioregion, the park's forest includes old-growth Douglas fir, western red cedar, bigleaf maple, Pacific madrone, salal, sword fern, lady fern, as well as numerous perennial wildflowers and mosses.
Note: To reserve any of the picnic shelters, call 360.753.8380 and visit the City of Olympia website for pricing details. All events with more than 75 people require a permit from the city.