Manchester State Park is a haven for history buffs, marine life lovers, and water enthusiasts with 50 campsites, including 15 that offer electricity and water hookups. Located two miles north of the city of Manchester, Washington, Manchester State Park is situated on the Kitsap Peninsula overlooking Clam Bay and the Rich Passage. The 111-acre state park offers you a plethora of water sports activities along the 3,400 feet of shoreline on the northeastern portion of the peninsula. Within the state park, history buffs will be thrilled with the former U.S. Naval structures still standing which include a 1901 torpedo warehouse, a gun battery, and a mining casement.
The Kitsap Peninsula was once the homeland of the Suquamish Indian Tribe before the tribe encountered European settlers in the 1790s. With the arrival of European settlers in the 1840s led by Charles Wilkes, the tribe experienced problems with the numerous lumber mills on the peninsula. Today, the tribe continues its rich cultural traditions with numerous celebrations to honor Chief Seattle. In the early part of the 20th century the area encompassing the park was used for military safety. Known as Middle Point, the area was used to protect the shipyards located at Bremerton. The Rich Passage was an important location and there were numerous underwater mines laid out in the passage for safety. The remaining U.S. Naval structures in the park include an underwater torpedo warehouse and a gun casement which were used during WWII for protection.
Activities at Manchester State Park are fabulous with everything from hiking and biking to kayaking and windsurfing to swimming and scuba diving. You will be pleased flying a kite on the shoreline or just hanging out in a forested campground that offers incredible views of Vashon and Bainbridge Islands.
The weather at Manchester State Park brings high 70s in the summer months between June and September with less than two inches of rain per month. Winter time brings rains up to nine inches a month along with temperatures in the mid-40s.
You can access Manchester State Park from East Hilldale Road which runs through the northern portion of the park. You can find East Hilldale Road while traveling along Beach Drive East from Manchester in the south as well as traveling from the southwest from Port Orchard. The road follows the western coastline of the Kitsap Peninsula and is not hard for RVs and trailers to navigate from either direction. If you are traveling from Seattle, you will need to take a few detours to Tacoma before entering the peninsula. There are ferry opportunities from Seattle to Bremerton, as well as Southworth from Fauntleroy, but there are limits on the size of vehicles for each ferry.
Once inside the park you will find maneuvering your rig is not hard. There are no tight or hairpin curves on East Hillside Road. You will encounter congestion around any of the day use parking lots, especially around the historic torpedo warehouse. The two loop campground is connected by one road. While driving in the campground please use caution and be aware of pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing. Please adhere to all posted speed limits within the park and campground areas.
The Manchester State Park Campground consists of two loops connected by one road and contains 50 campsites, including 15 with electricity and water hookups. The campground offers plenty of shade within a nicely forested area of Douglas fir and maple trees. There are a few pull-through sites for RVs and trailers in the lower loop that offer partial hookups. There are pull-through sites in the upper loop but they do not have hookups.
Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and a paved parking pad which may require leveling. RVs and trailers are limited to 60 feet length. The campground has a dump station located near the entrance to the park. Facilities within the campground include flush toilets, showers, horseshoe pits, and a volleyball/badminton court. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times. Reservations are open from May to September.
From mid-September to mid-May, the campsites at Manchester State Park Campground are open on a first-come, first-served basis only.
One of the most popular things to do in Manchester State Park is to enjoy the Rich Passage and Clam Bay. Watersport enthusiasts will be thrilled by the opportunities for sea kayaking, windsurfing, and sail boating. The 3,400-feet shoreline is ideal for launching water crafts by hand. While you are out on the water you will have incredible vantage points to see the lush forested area of the park as well as intriguing views of the historic buildings and gun casements.
Swimming and scuba diving are perfect activities to enjoy during your RV stay at Manchester State Park. There is a swimming beach located along the northern portion of the shoreline, although there are no lifeguards on duty. Always be aware of rip and high tide times. Scuba divers like the rich history that is found under the water in Rich Passage and Clam Bay. Marine life includes octopus, wolf eel and plenty of nudibranchs. You can also expect to see a plethora of clams, oysters, and eel grass.
Fishing in Manchester State Park is a great pastime for RV campers. Along the shoreline of the Rich Passage you can expect to catch sea-run cutthroat trout, salmon, flatfish, and steelhead. Other species you can catch in the deeper waters offshore include green sturgeon, Pacific halibut, and lingcod. If you have a boat, the nearest boat launch is in Manchester just south of the state park. All clam digging and oyster hunting is prohibited. Please check the Washington state fishing rules and regulations for bag and size limits, as well as for required licenses.
The historical buildings at Manchester State Park highlight the need for protecting the Puget Sound area during a time of war. The 1901 torpedo warehouse is a fabulous brick building with arched windows and plenty of interpretive signage to help you understand the importance of protecting the shipyards in Bremerton, Washington. Other WWII structures include a mining casement near the torpedo warehouse and the Mitchell battery which overlooks the Rich Passage. There are also plenty of exhibits highlighting the use of underwater mines in Puget Sound during times of war.
Campground games are a perfect way to relax while you are visiting the state park in your RV. Within the campground, you will find horseshoe pits which are ideal for families and friends to enjoy. There is a volleyball area that can also be used to play badminton. Another exciting game you can try while at Manchester State Park is flying your kite. Although the campground is well forested, the shoreline along the Rich Passage boasts consistent wind which is perfect for any type of kite flying.
Hiking at Manchester State Park is somewhat limited with only two miles of trails. There is a superb nature trail that has several interpretive signs that explains the natural, cultural, and historical aspects of the park. Other trails in the park wind through a forested area that includes maples and Douglas fir trees. Another option for hiking is along the 3,400-feet shoreline along the Rich Passage. Here you will find plenty of seashells from clams to oysters and there will be plenty of interesting drift wood to view.