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Parking next to Point Defiance boat launch on track to partially open

June 12, 2018

Point Defiance Elementary School’s free boater parking goes to 7 days a week beginning June 16; extra parking comes as season gets underway

Boaters launching from Point Defiance Marina will get partial use of the brand-new multiuse parking lot as early as Friday evening.

The lot is just a few hundred feet south of the Marina’s public launches. It’s still an active construction site, but Metro Parks and its contractor Atkinson Construction agreed to a partial opening to better accommodate the heavy boating traffic anticipated this year. Only a few boat trailer parking spaces have remained open during this year’s waterfront construction: several between the ferry and Anthony’s at Point Defiance and ADA parking there and just west of the ramps.

The number of spaces will fluctuate daily depending on construction needs, and the lot may be temporarily closed from time to time. Signs and other equipment will mark the area where it’s OK to park, and launch attendants will be happy to give directions.

Parking instructions to boaters

  1. Check in with the launch attendant and pull forward to the yellow line.
  2. Launch your boat.
  3. Park your trailer in the multiuse lot near the launch or in the other spaces close to the launch if they are available.


If the main lot is full or closed:
  1. Drive to Point Defiance Elementary School, 4330 N. Visscher St. Note: This alternate lot will be available beginning June 16. It will be available seven days a week through Sept. 3.
  2. Look for the “Shuttle” sign and wait for the next shuttle to take you back to the launch.
  3. Once you bring your boat in, tie it up at the launch and go to the shuttle pick-up area.
  4. The shuttle will take you back to the school. Drive back to the launch and retrieve your boat.

Boaters also should know:

  • Boaters should be aware of low tides, which make it difficult to launch certain sizes of boats from certain lanes.
  • Both lots are open from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week for boat launch customers only (beginning June 16 for the Point Defiance Elementary lot).
  • No overnight parking allowed in either lot.
  • Boaters park at their own risk.
  • Boaters may not move any parking boundary equipment in place at either lot.
  • Boaters are asked to follow signage at the lots and to park in the designated areas. Out of courtesy for neighbors, boaters also are asked to park inside the lot and not on the streets.

This year’s chinook fishing in South Puget Sound may be some of the best in recent memory – a 40 percent larger return than usual – said Phedra Redifer, regional parks manager for Metro Parks. That prediction, the curtailment of coastal and north sound fishing, and Point Defiance Marina’s status as the region’s largest public boat launch, add up to a busy season.

“We know Point Defiance Marina will be especially popular this summer,” Redifer said. “We’ve been working with representatives of the regional boating community and are happy to have more options on the table.”

Redifer also thanked Tacoma Public Schools for providing the Point Defiance Elementary School location this summer. The lot has been open on weekends for several weeks, and the school district agreed to extend operation to daily use from June 16 through Sept. 3, when school is not in session.

The multiuse lot is one of many Point Defiance Park improvements on track to finish by the end of the year. A roundabout at the entrance to Point Defiance Park is nearly complete and already in use. Work on the trail that will connect the park’s trails to Point Ruston’s trail and to Ruston Way is underway. Work continues on Dune Peninsula, an 11-acre stretch of green space on the waterfront. Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium will open Friday, Sept. 7.

When finished, the multiuse lot will have space for more than 100 cars, boat trailers and other vehicles brought by park visitors and boat launch customers.

Redifer said parking and boating updates will be posted to The website posts regular updates about construction impacts as well as information Point Defiance Park construction projects.

Boaters also can try these ideas:

  • Use a buddy system so that someone drops you and your boat off and comes back to pick you up when you return.
  • Store your boat at the marina. (Housing is limited to boats under 17 feet long. For more information, call (253) 404-3960 or go to )