Priest Point Park

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Priest Point Park
TypeMunicipal (Olympia)
LocationOlympia, Washington
Area314 acres (1.27 km2)
StatusOpen all year

Priest Point Park is a public park located in Olympia, Washington. Established in 1905, it was the city's first waterfront park, providing access to the Budd Inlet of Puget Sound.[1]


Priest Point is the site of a former American Indian encampment.[2]

In 1848 Catholic missionaries of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate led by Father Pascal Ricard arrived in the South Puget Sound area, claiming the site as St. Joseph's of New Market. Father Ricard and three other French Canadian priests built two or three simple buildings, including a classroom and chapel, along with an orchard and garden. They operated a school for Indian boys from the local Squaxin Island Tribe. The Nisqually, Puyallup and Snoqualmie used the mission as a trading post. The mission closed in 1860, three years after Pascal left.[3]

In 1905 the land became a city park after plans for a housing development fell through. Volunteers labored to clear trails, install landscaping and re-erect the elaborate two-story Swiss-style chalet donated by Leopold Schmidt of the Olympia Brewery. The building first served as the brewery's pavilion at the 1903-04 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon, and remained at the park until the early 1950s.[4]


Today the park includes picnic shelters, nature trails, a large playground, basketball courts and public restrooms, as well as a mile of saltwater shoreline along the Budd Inlet of the Puget Sound. Ellis Cove juts into the park, and features a trail lining its perimeter.[5] There is also a formal rose garden.[6]

Birding at the park offers a variety of species, including the northern flicker, downy and pileated woodpeckers, red-breasted nuthatch, and brown creeper. osprey nest north of Ellis Cove, and the mudflats and rocky beach host greater yellowlegs, western and least sandpipers, and dunlin. Bald eagles and pigeon guillemot are frequently in the park as well.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Judd, R.C. (2001) Inside Out Washington: A Best Places Guide to the Outdoors. Sasquatch Books. p 25.
  2. ^ "Thurston County Place Names: A Heritage Guide" (PDF). Thurston County Historical Commission. 1992. p. 68. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Priest Point Park", City of Olympia. Retrieved 8/3/08.
  4. ^ "Priest Point Park", Thurston Regional Planning Council. Retrieved 8/3/08.
  5. ^ "Priest Point Park", Retrieved 8/3/08.
  6. ^ Scherer, M.M. (2005) A Cruising Guide to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. McGraw-Hill Professional. p 21.
  7. ^ "Priest Point Park" Archived 2012-07-26 at, Black Hills Audubon Society. Retrieved 8/3/08.

Coordinates: 47°04′19″N 122°53′42″W / 47.072°N 122.895°W / 47.072; -122.895

External links[edit]

Media related to Priest Point Park at Wikimedia Commons