The Pacific Northwest has a photographic wonderland that everyone should visit when they get the chance: Fort Stevens State Park, located in the northwest corner of Oregon, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. It is about a 25-minute drive west of Astoria. There are many great picture opportunities at this historic location. If this is your first trip, you might not know what to find or where to start—this article is meant as a guide, so bookmark it if you think you might go. Make sure.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll find at this incredible top of Oregon!
Peter Iredale shipwreck
Peter Iredale lives – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – Vibrant Color Filters
Probably the most famous and most photographed landmark Peter Iredale shipwreck. The ship, a four-masted barque sailing vessel made of steel, was en route from Santa Cruz, Mexico, to Portland, in 1906, with a load of rocks. Strong winds pushed the ship out of the way, and it ran aground at high tide near Fort Stevens Military Base. No one was hurt, and the ship was abandoned for whatever reason. What remains can still be seen today, and is now an iconic picture space.
There are basically two times to be photographed Peter Iredale Ships: high-tide and low-tide. At high tide, the boat is partially covered in water and the waves crash into the metal remains. It’s less accessible and more photographically limited at high-tide than at low-tide, and you’ll definitely want a telephoto lens, but it’s still worthwhile to capture some images. You can use a sand-bluff of grass to frame the ship. At low tide, you can walk straight to the ship—of course, you can Run Right up to the ship! It’s most ideal if you can capture the wreck at low tide and at sunset (this tide chart can be helpful), and a wide angle lens will be your friend. Most likely you won’t be alone on the boat, and it takes a little patience No Get other people in your images (or in yourself their pictures).
It is very easy to find a wreck. Enter the park on Peter Iredale Road and follow the well marked signs (Google Maps). The parking lot is not far from the wreck at all, so it is easily accessible. At low tide you can drive directly to the beach (I suggest 4-wheel-drive), which makes it even more accessible.
sea ship – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 90mm – “Fujicolor Super HG”
wet shipwreck – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 90mm – “Fujicolor Super HG”
shipwreck – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – B&W Fade Filters
The Bones of Peter Iredale – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Gold v2”
rusty ship hull – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – Color Negative Low Filter
golden shipwreck – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”
Fort Stevens Military Base
underground building – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – Vibrant Color Filters
Fort Stevens State Park has an intriguing past—a must-see if you’re a military history buff! Fort Stevens was an active military installation from 1863 to 1947. On June 21, 1942, a Japanese submarine fired 17 shells at the base. While several shells struck Fort Stevens, apart from some damage to several isolated power lines and baseball diamonds, they caused no major destruction and no one was hurt. It was the only attack on the 48-contiguous states during World War II.
There are lots of old military buildings in various positions within the state park—about 25 structures, some of which are massive—and many of these are open to the public. It can be an entire day or even a multi-day event to explore them all, or, if you’re not all interested, experience briefly in less than an hour. could. There are three sites: Fort Stevens Historic Area (Google Maps), Observation Pillbox (Google Maps), and Battery Russell (Google Maps). The Fort Stevens Historic Area is where most of the buildings are located as well as the visitor center. The Observation Pillbox is accessible via hiking trails. The battery is located not far from the Russell Peter Iredale Ships, and old boats can be easily discovered just before or just after the sighting.
For photography, a wide-angle lens is probably your best bet, and a large aperture option is a good idea. Consider bringing a tripod for shooting in the dark. Those interested in military history or abandoned buildings will find Fort Stevens State Park a wealth of photographic opportunities!
watch your kids – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – Metrocolor Filters
abandoned fort – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – B&W Fade Filters
big hole – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam – B&W Fade Filter
empty road – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – B&W Fade Filters
old fireplace – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “Ilford HP5 Plus 400”
stairs in the forest – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “Ilford HP5 Plus 400”
big ocean – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 90mm – “Fujicolor Super HG”
There are approximately four miles of sandy beach bordering the Pacific Ocean within Fort Stevens State Park. The park also has additional beach access along the Columbia River, which is interesting, especially if you want to see big ships come and go – but the vast ocean along its long sandy beach is the real star.
At the southern end is Strawberry Knoll (Google Maps), which is a good place for 4×4 vehicles to reach the beach, but everyone else will require a short hike out to sea, and there is limited parking. The easiest beach access is probably at Peter Iredale Shipwreck (Google Maps), which has more parking, but is also the most visited site. As you drive north on Jetty Road, Lot A (Google Maps) has easy access to the beach and lots of parking, Lot B (Google Maps) has lots of parking but it’s a short walk to the beach. C is a hike, Lot C (Google Maps) has an observation tower, lots of rocks, hiking to the beach, and lots of parking, and Lot D (Google Maps) has easy beach access and parking, but Technically it is on the Columbia River side, and the water will be much calmer. Any of these locations can be good for photography.
I recommend having both telephoto and wide-angle lenses at your disposal. High-tide and low-tide can be interesting, and sunrise, noon and sunset all provide interesting illumination. There is no right or wrong time to go, and traveling at different times and in different conditions will give you very different photographic opportunities. I imagine one could spend days, weeks or even months photographing the beaches in Fort Stevens and never run out of inspiration.
lonely beach – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 90mm – “Kodak Tri-X400”
Pacific Coast Monochrome – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Tri-X400”
south jetty – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “Ilford HP5 Plus 400”
morning drive – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – Metrocolor Filters
Within Fort Stevens State Park are miles of hiking trails, dense forests, campsites, ponds, lakes, and streams. There is abundant wildlife here, including deer, elk, sea lions, bald eagles, herons, puffins, and the occasional gray whale off the coast. No matter where you are in the park, there are photo opportunities virtually everywhere! The landscape is just incredible, and surprisingly diverse. It can be easy to overlook all this between the beach, the shipwreck, and the abandoned base, but don’t do it! Keep your eyes open, your adventurous spirit keen, and your camera ready, and you’re sure to snap some stunning yet unexpected photos.
If you have the time and energy, the Fort Stevens/Jetty Loop/Ridge Loop trail is great – mostly paved and fairly easy, but a bit long at nine miles (you don’t have to cover the whole thing) . Coffenbury Lake (Google Maps) is useful, and somewhat accessible from the Battery Russell parking lot.
If you are a wildlife photographer, you will definitely want to keep your long telephoto lens handy. If you’re a landscape photographer, a wide-angle lens will often be your best bet. Having two cameras, one with a telephoto lens and the other with a wide angle, or perhaps a good zoom lens, is a solid strategy.
forest pond – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 90mm – “Ferrania Solaris FG400”
elk alone – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 90mm – “Fujicolor Super HG”
Clatsop Spit Tower – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – Richecam App – B&W Fade Filters
Driftwood and Shipwreck – Fort Stevens SP, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodachrome 64”
Fort Stevens State Park is one of the most spectacular places in Northwest Oregon! It’s a worthwhile photographic excursion that can be experienced in a day, but you’ll definitely be rewarded for it if you have more time to spend in the park. Parts of the park (Coffenbury Lakes and Fort Stevens Historic Area) require a daily self-pay for a $5 parking fee per vehicle, and camping is not free, but otherwise there is no charge to access other parts of the park. Not there.
I used three cameras to capture these photos: Fujifilm X-E4, Fujifilm X100V, and iPhone 11. On Fujifilm cameras I used various film simulation recipes, and on my iPhone I used the RichiCam app. All of the images in this article are unedited (apart from minor straightening and cropping, they’re straight-out-of-camera images), which means I didn’t spend hours manipulating them in software. This is a great way to save time and make photography even more enjoyable. Capturing photographs that require no post-processing is a great way to streamline your workflow and simplify your photographic life. When traveling, where you’ll be making a lot of exposures and your opportunities to post-process those photos are limited, things that save you time can make a big difference. If you have a Fujifilm camera, I invite you to try the film simulation recipes (check out the app!) on your next photography outing. If you own an iPhone, download the RichieCam Camera app for free today!