Ft. Ord Dunes Campground Project

Located along Monterey Bay, Fort Ord Dunes State Park is adjacent to the cities of Monterey, Seaside, Marina and Sand City.  The park is also within close proximity to large urban areas such as the Salinas Valley, Santa Cruz, the South San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose, and the Silicon Valley.  Formally part of the Fort Ord Army Base, the property includes approximately 990 acres of state parkland, including four miles of ocean beach.  The state park provides an expansive seascape and a landform of dune habitat and undeveloped seashore and is rich in both natural and cultural resources.  As part of the former Fort Ord Army Base, its distinctive history provides a unique opportunity for the interpretation of local and Ft Ord history.

One of the newest units of the State Park System, Fort Ord Dunes State Park is  was added in January of 1995.  The land was transferred to the state by the National Park Service through the Federal Lands to Parks Program, and the park was opened to the public for day use in 2009.

A general Plan for Fort Ord Dunes State Park was adopted in 2004 and provides for the development of the new campground and beach access facilities and identifies the area immediately adjacent to the bunkers as the location for the campground.  The project site lies largely outside the Highway 1 view shed and consists of approximately 130 acres of which 16.79 acres to be developed with visitor improvements.

The campground project is funded by Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006.

Project Status

On July 13, 2017, the California Coastal Commission approved the Campground and Beach Access project at Fort Ord Dunes State Park unanimously for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP). This is a major milestone in the approval processes required for development within the park. 

Next steps include approval of the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in order to obtain a Federal Permit. This is expected to occur by fall 2018.
With the state and federal permit approved, construction of the new campground can begin in 2019.

California State Parks will post updates here on our CDP application, as the application goes through the permitting process. Please check back to this website for updates and information on how to comment.

New Campground Features

The new and fully compliant campground will add 95 new campsites to the California State Park system and will fill a geographical void for high demand public camping opportunities along the coast of Monterey Bay. California State Parks has designed the project in full compliance with federal and state accessibility codes. Once complete, the campground will have 4 accessible RV campsites, 4 accessible traditional campsites, 2 accessible traditional double family sites, an accessible dump station, accessible restrooms and showers, etc. In addition, the project will include compliant parking, routes, and beach access.


Campfire Center Design Image
The new campfire center will be located adjacent to Bunker 8.

The campground consists of 3 distinct camping areas:

Camp site image
Typical traditional campsite in the new campground loop in the area of Bunker 4.
  • RV Campground Area.  This area contains 45 RV campsites with electrical and water hookups and is capable of accommodating large RVs

  • Traditional Camping Area:  This areas is comprised of 40 traditional tent campsites

  • A Hike/Bike/Walk-In Camping Area:  This area has 10 walk-in or bike-in style campsites, each accessible from the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail and a designated parking area within the campground
 

The campground will also feature:

  • Consistent architectural design themes for all buildings and landscape structures.
  • Paved parking spurs, picnic tables, fire rings and tent pads.
  • 3 mini-group campsites. These are single campsites where 2 campsites can be combined and shared by multiple visitor groups or extended families. These will be available for reservation for park visitors under California State Parks’ reservation system.
  • 4 restrooms buildings with showers (2 in the tent camping area and 2 in the RV camping area).
  • A modern campfire center/amphitheater with a traditional fire ring and full audio visual facilities.
  • Repairs and improvements to the existing paved roadway.
  • A sewage dump station for RVs.
  • Two camp host sites.
  • Firewood storage and sales.
  • Exterior rinse stations at each restroom shower building.
  • The campground will be Wi-Fi ready.
  • Overflow parking area for extra vehicles.

Monterey Bay Sanctuary Trail

Maintaining the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail's Class I bikeway designation is a key element of the project.  To reduce conflict and maintain the quality of the bike and pedestrian experience, the trail is separated throughout the project from the road, and designates separate bike and pedestrian movement lanes.

Monterey Bay Sanctuary Trail The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail will be maintained as a Class I Bike path and the plans for the campground are consistent with the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network Final Master Plan

- The existing bike and pedestrian underpass near Divarty Street is enhanced to provide access and separate bike and pedestrian use from vehicular traffic
- The trail parallels the existing road alignment throughout most of the project and diverges from the road corridor to meet accessibility requirements where appropriate
- The trail connects to 10 hike/bike sites for easy access
- Interpretive displays are incorporated along the trail to identify important natural and cultural resources
- Road crossings, when they occur are clearly marked, signed and identified on the trail to allow safe crossing

Beach Access


Campground visitors will be able to access the beach via an interpretive walk and beach access walkway, located north of the new campground. The structure will provide year-round accessible access from the bluff and allow visitors to reach the beach without damaging the sensitive dunes.
Beach Access Ramp Image
Access ramp at main beach access point to the north of the new campground.

Overlooks

Guardtower Viewpoint image The Guard Tower Overlook is one of 2 overlooks to be constructed as part of the project.

The campground will feature two new overlooks, each with a fantastic 360 degree panoramic view of the ocean, old Ft Ord, Monterey Bay and the cities of Monterey, Seaside, Marina and Sand City.

- One overlook is located in the heart of the campground, at the crest of the dunes, overlooking the ocean
- The second overlook is located near the old guard tower on the south end of the campground.  This overlook gives a soldier’s panoramic view of the entire area

Community Building


A community building provides an area for gathering informally, getting out of the weather and learning about the site and its resources.



The building features:
Multi Use Building image
The new community building will feature an outdoor gathering area for park visitors.
- An indoor/outdoor fireplace for visitor warming.
- A small kitchen to accommodate concession food services or special events on a reservation basis.
- Two restrooms.
- Office space and storage.
- Interpretive/education areas with seating and tables.
- Outdoor ocean overlook area.
- Approximately 40 car parking area.
- The building is connected to the campground, interpretive trails and beach access as part of the campground’s interior pedestrian trail system and is readably accessible from the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail.

Bunkers

Bunker Interpretive Image
An interpretive display will be developed inside Bunker 12 and interpretive features will be placed around its exterior.
The military base's 12 existing storage bunkers are located immediately adjacent to the new campground. These bunkers are part of the park's interpretive master plan and include the following features:

- One storage bunker will be modified for interpretation and will house an Interpretive display 
- A second storage bunker will be rehabilitated and used for park operations 
- Possible restoration of additional bunker entry ways for future interpretive and storage use

Interpretive Facilities

The campground project is rich in interpretive facilities, including:
- An interpretive walk along the front of the bunkers.
- An extensive wayfinding mapping system to aid and educate visitors.
- An interpretive walk from the campground to the beach.
- The interior bunker display.
- Interpretive information at the Guard Tower Overlook.
- Multiple interpretive nodes throughout the campground and on the interpretive walk, each containing historical, cultural, natural and resource protection information.
- Improved indoor and outdoor spaces such as a campfire center/amphitheater and community building with audio visual programs and exhibits.

 

Campfire Window image
The project will feature a modern campfire center designed for traditional parks campfire center programs and for interpretive gatherings.

Natural Resource Sensitive Design & Restoration

Natural Resource Sensitive Design and Restoration
State Parks staff and volunteers from a variety of program areas are recruited for restoration work at Ft Ord Dunes

The campground was sited to minimize visibility from Highway 1 and impacts to natural resources. Sensitive design elements and restoration elements include:
- Sited largely outside the Highway 1 viewshed.
- Compact design limited direct impacts to sensitive species.
- Includes a 200' wildlife corridor for habitat connectivity.
- Restores dune landforms.
- Removes non-native vegetation (i.e., ice plant).
- Advances restoration goals contained in the draft Habitat Conservation Plan to restore. Approximately 700 acres of the park to native dune habitat.
- Critter proof trash enclosures will be incorporated.

Natural Resource Facilites

Several facilities are incorporated to preserve and protect the natural resources of the park.
 
These include:
- Interpretive panels educating park visitors on resource sensitivity
- Visitor control signage for resource protection
- Resource protection fencing as required by the park’s Habitat Conservation Plan
- An extensive and ongoing dune vegetation restoration program
- The beach access helps stabilize the dunes by reducing dune erosion

Multi Use Orientation
The new community building is sited and orientated to take advantage of the spectacular view of the Monterey Bay.

Pedestrian Circulation System

Ocean View Path
An accessible trail system throughout the campground will provide opportunities for visitor education and interpretation of the natural and cultural resources present throughout Ft Ord Dunes

Facilities within the new campground will be connected by a fully accessible pathway system connecting camping areas with the community building, campfire center, bunkers, overlooks, beach access and the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail.

Improved Park Operations Facilities

To facilitate park management, maintenance and visitor information/orientation, several new facilities are included.
- A new park entry sign
- A new entrance station building at the campground entrance
- A maintenance building and staging area
- Three modular operations and security structures
- All buildings will include LEED components
- Miscellaneous fencing, gates, landscaping,  hardscape, signage, and site furnishings as required
- The lighting in the two entrance tunnels under the highway, at the main park entry, will be restored
Entry Sign image
A new park entry sign will anchor the park’s entrance experience and help direct traffic through the improved park interior road system.

Utilities and Technology

Utilities and Technology Image
Shown above is the mobile app used to aid in interpretation at Los Angeles State Historic Park

Ft Ord Dunes State Park has no existing utility infrastructure to serve park visitors.  Through partnerships with PG&E, the Marina Coast Water District, Comcast, AT&T and others, the project includes new domestic water connections, electrical infrastructure, connection to regional sewer system, onsite propane, telephone and internet connections, and Wi-Fi ready features to service the park and it's visitors.

The new campground will have state of the art facilities to help interpretive the park's rich natural and cultural resources, and distinctive history as the former Fort Ord Army Base. Interpretive apps, mobile walking tours, a modern campfire center, and much more, are in the future of this very unique State park.