Metro Parks Tacoma

  • Park Finder
  • Register

Destination Point Defiance

Enhancing the Experience that is Point Defiance

Destination Point Defiance Logo

In 2008, Metro Parks Tacoma developed a Concept Plan for the park in partnership with the citizens of Tacoma.

Evolution of that plan has resulted in Destination Point Defiance, a long-term, comprehensive planning initiative to enhance the experience and honor the character of Point Defiance Park through:
  • Preservation and Stewardship
  • Access Enhancements
  • Year-Round Activities
This work will culminate in a Master Plan summer 2015. The public is invited to participate in the process.
Join Our Email List!

News, meeting and event
notices delivered
to your inbox:


Bikers on Ruston Way during Downtown to Defiance.

Destination Point Defiance envisions an even more accessible, active and thriving waterfront that allows pedestrian access to the Puget Sound. This project will:
  • Extend and improve the waterfront trail system for access to and through the waterfront, building a bike and pedestrian bridge over traffic.
  • Work with the City of Tacoma and State Department of Transportation to redesign the Pearl Street entrance. The team also will add a ferry traffic lane and improve ferry traffic flow.
  • Provide a new boat trailer parking lot to support the existing boat launch.
  • Protect and enhance Puget Sound through habitat and shoreline restoration.
  • Integrate green infrastructure enhancements, including constructing an innovative regional storm water facility to filter run off.
  • Coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency to remediate contaminated soils from the undeveloped parking area to the northeast of the Pearl Street entrance.
  • Create a park on the Point Defiance peninsula.
2015-2016 Waterfront Phase I Improvements
  1. Improve Entry, Parking and Infrastructure:
    Redesign the undeveloped area near the Pearl Street entrance while adding a storm water filtration system, and remediating contaminated soils. Position the area for development of long-term visitor parking and services.
  2. Build a Bike and Pedestrian-Only Trail and Bridge:
    Create safe pedestrian access into the Park from Ruston Way, stabilizing the bluff and reducing conflicts with traffic.
  3. 11-Acre Park on the Peninsula:
    Create a new park with unobscured views of the Puget Sound, Mound Rainier and Vashon Island.

Project Manager: Roger Stanton; (253) 305-1082;

aquarium octopus

Planning is under way for the zoo's new aquarium and renovated Polar bear and Rocky Shores/Walrus exhibits. A detailed implementation plan is in process to identify efficiencies and minimize the impact on the zoo visitor experience.

Construction work will begin on the new aquarium and Rocky Shores exhibit in late 2016, followed by the Polar bear exhibit in early 2017. Upgrades to critical animal life-support systems will be incorporated into all three projects.

Project Manager: Dick Ramsey

Point Defiance Lodge Visitors Center
The natural resources and distinct character of the Park will be preserved and honored through a number of projects within Destination Point Defiance. A comprehensive assessment of infrastructure and programmatic needs was developed in 2013-2014. The park's safety requirements and waterline/fire suppression system have been a focus for the District.
fort niqually picnic area-Carmack Dept. of Ecology Soil Remediation Program (2016)
Tacoma Pierce County Health Department did a sampling for arsenic and lead associated with the Asarco Plume at the Main Picnic Area/Playground next to the Zoo, Fort Nisqually Picnic Area and Fort Nisqually Meadow and found contamination to be cleaned up. Metro Parks is negotiating an inter-agency agreement with Ecology that generally covers the work to be accomplished and defines roles and responsibilities for each agency. Work at Point Defiance Park and Fort Nisqually is tentatively scheduled to occur in the winter of 2016.
Project Manager: Department of Ecology
Japanese Garden in Point Defiance Park Japanese Garden  (2013-2016)
The Japanese Garden will receive special attention in collaboration with Tacoma's sister City of Kitakyushu, Japan.
Project Manager: Doug Fraser
fort niqually picnic area-Carmack Water Main  (2014)
A new waterline into Fort Nisqually was completed in 2014. It ties into COT's system behind Tobey Jones and replaces the fire suppression water bladder that was near the Fort.
Water Upgrades (2012)
18 water meters were installed on the existing water systems to allow MPT to monitor water consumption and nearly 7,000 lineal feet of main irrigation line was replaced - roughly the length of 20 football fields.
pagoda with people Renovation of Historic Pagoda (2013)
The Pagoda has undergone significant restoration and structural improvements after an arson fire damaged it in 2011. The upper floor has been restored and updated, and the lower floor now accommodates meetings, classes, celebrations and events.
Runner on trail in Point Defiance Park Trail & Way-Finding Project (2012)
Damaged trail sections were re-built, unneeded or confusing trail sections were closed off, and trailhead signage and wayfinding signage were installed.
Forested area in Point Defiance Park Forest Stewardship Plan  (2010)
The 560-acre forest at the Park contains about 500-acres of old-growth forest. This rare urban forest is both a gem for visitors and a necessity for the continued health of the ecosystem. The recently updated Forest Stewardship Plan will ensure that the forest is maintained now and for the future.
Kids Activities in Point Defiance Bowl Turf Conversion (2011)
The grass on Goldfish Hill (the steep upper bowl area) was transitioned to native and Northwest climate adapted plants which provide shelter and food for native and migratory fauna. The carbon emissions associated with the gas powered equipment necessary for maintenance have been eliminated as well as the need for fertilizer applications. These plants require significantly less irrigation water to thrive to existing irrigation was modified to be compatible with the new plantings.
running with hamster ball rock the bowl Superfund Soil Mitigation/Bowl Improvements (2009)
In conjunction with environmental cleanup of Asarco soils, the entire bowl area was remediated and restored with the exception of 70,000 square feet which did not require remediation. This project was funded by EPA. Soil remediation has been ongoing in Point Defiance Park since 2007, with vast areas on the eastern edge of the entry drive and the southern hill already completed in 2008 and 2009.

Interim Project Manager: Vito Iacobazzi; (253) 305-1027;

meeting in Pagoda

  Master Plan Development
  • Science & Math Institute (SAMI) - Working with MPT, Tacoma Public Schools is designing new project-based learning spaces to be incorporated into the Destination Point Defiance Master Plan. They will function both as top-quality learning centers for Tacoma's students and as community resource centers.

Point Defiance Park Concept Plan (Aug. 2007)

Project Manager: Doug Fraser; (253) 305-1019;

pagoda with people

pagoda with people Renovation of Historic Pagoda
Inspired by Japanese architecture when it was built in 1914, the Pagoda was fully restored after a 2011 arson damaged the roof and structural framing. Additional meeting and gathering spaces were added to host garden shows, classes and community celebrations.
Learn more about the Pagoda.
Pagoda rental information.