Saltwater State Park, Des Moines

#254 of 291 in Outdoors in Washington State
Saltwater State Park is a 87.4acre plot of second-growth timber on Puget Sound in the City of Des Moines, Washington, United States halfway between Seattle and Tacoma. The main attraction is 1445ft of saltwater beachfront, including a sandy swimming beach in the southwest corner, and rocky tideflats along the west with a submerged artificial reef that is popular with scuba divers. A forty-person group camp looks down on the beach from a high bluff.Overlooked by most visitors is the steep ravine of McSorley (formerly Smith) Creek which winds inland in a gentle "S" curve joined by three tributary streams. Fifty-two campsites are situated on a road that parallels the creek, serving the public on a first-come-first-served basis. On both the north and south sides of the ravine there is a network of hiking trails which follow up the side creeks, rise through jungles of stinging nettles, skirt the edges of cliffs and ridges, and cross wooded plateaus.As of 2009, Saltwater State Park has been designated a Marine Protected Area. Salmon spawn in McSorley Creek and the area provides habitat for many species of fish. There is some concern that the increase in visitors to the park due to the artificial reef may harm fish populations. In addition, the boundaries of the Marine Protected Area are not well marked and both professional and amateur geoduck harvesters may sometimes accidentally be out of compliance with the Marine Protected Area harvest restrictions.Marine View Drive passes over the park on a 200ft high bridge, and 16th Avenue S crosses two branches of McSorley Creek to form the eastern boundary. One trail rises between the two branches of the creek to exit the park, while another trail continues from the dead-end of the campground service road a short way east of 16th Ave. along the main branch of the creek, informally extending the park.
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Saltwater State Park Reviews
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36 reviews
  • The park is great if you want to see how beautiful PNW really is. Plenty of parking (for a fee of course). The beach is Washington's usual rock/dark sand. Plenty of table available for seating. I beli...  more »
  • My daughter, her friends and I tent camped in this park while attending a concert in Seattle. We stayed 2 nights in order to do a bit of site-seeing. The location is easy to drive between Seattle's ma...  more »
  • A very enjoyable walk in the trees and ferns...a little over a mile loop around the camping sites...several bench's along the trail to sit and enjoy your journey...if it wasn't for plane traffic comin...  more »
  • Beautiful beach! I think this place is a total gem. It's pretty ducked off but that's what I like about it. It's never too crowded and they have a fair amount of beach space. The restrooms are in really good shape as well. I've gone to state parks in WA and nearly gag when I walk in but his restroom has it 💩 together. There is also a nice picnic area if you've got a ground. Another plus is that you can BBQ on the beach too.
  • It was pretty packed when we visited. Definitely suggest getting there earlier to reserve spots. We didn't go in the water because there was a ton of algae/seaweed floating along the beach. It was our first time so I'm unsure if this is normal. $10 for a day pass or $30 for a year pass good in all state parks.
  • Terrible place for camping, decent for watching the sunset. While the surroundings themselves are quite pretty, campsites are very small--if you have more than two people you will be right up against another campsite. Officials aggressively patrol for alcohol, and though my group was respectful when confronted, the official we interacted with started and ended his interaction with us by being rude, confrontational, and aggressive. When we went there in June, no campfires were allowed, so that benefit to camping is out. Constant, close-up noise from planes in and out of SeaTac also keep this from being anywhere near a reasonable camping experience.
  • Nice park. I don't mind air traffic noise since this is still the city in my opinion. If you don't want to hear that, then drive further away. Took a nice hike on one of the trails which was really refreshing. I advise not to do it when it's windy and rainy like today. Will be back to visit for sure.
  • Good trail and plenty of beach area. They have part of the boardwalk closed but I'm sure they'll open it soon. Saw some of the campsites and they look decent...a few small ones but usable still. Lots of parking.

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