JBLM: Life at JBLM

Life Outside JBLM 2017

This page provides information for those stationed at JBLM interested in activities outside the gate. For helpful On-Base information, please visit our On-Base Resources page.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is located approximately 9 miles southwest of Tacoma Washington. Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base were merged in early 2010. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a mobilization and training center for all services and is the only Army power-projection platform west of Colorado. JBLM’s location provides access to ports around Puget Sound. The ports closest to JBLM are in the cities of Olympia and Tacoma.

Part of living on (or near) JBLM, is experiencing all the great recreation opportunities that Washington State has to offer. Below you’ll find a list of some fun activities and places to explore while you call JBLM your home.

Things to Do

Nearby National Parks


Mount Rainier National Park

Explore this Majestic Mountain which peaks at 14,411 ft. With 26 major glaciers, Mount Rainier is the heaviest glaciated mountain in the lower 48 states, and the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range.

Mount Rainier National Park

Today Mount Rainier National Park is one of the largest tourist attractions in the Northwest. With over 51 hiking trails, RV and tent campsites, rock climbing and historical locations, there is always an adventure to be had and always a place to explore at Mount Rainier. The park is open year round to the public. If you are Active Duty or a dependent, you can get a free annual pass by showing your DoD ID to the front gate. For all non-active duty visitors there is an entrance fee with two options. For non-commercial commercial vehicles with up to 15 passengers, the fee is $15 for a 7 day entrance permit, and $30 for an annual pass. Make sure to call prior to going for any updates to the rates!

Olympic National Park

Some consider the Olympic National Park to be three parks in one.

Olympic National Park

In one day you can visit the heavily glaciated Olympic Mountains, walk through one of the only rain forests in the United States, and take a stroll along the coastline beaches. There are over 16 campgrounds and hundreds of trails to take a day hike on, or even an extended backpacking trip into the wilderness. Entrance fees for non-commercial vehicles are $15 for a 7 day entrance permit, and $30 for an annual pass. The park is open year round to the public, but some trails and campgrounds are closed during winter months, so be sure to check all 2017 updates on the parks website.

North Cascades National Park

Although a bit of a drive north from JBLM, this national treasure is well worth the road trip.

north cascades national park

With over 300 glaciers crowning the breathtaking mountains within the park, and beautiful glacial waterfalls cascading into the valleys below, awe inspiring is the only way to describe this park. There is no entrance fee to visit this park, and some of the campgrounds are even free to stay at. The park is open year around and not to far from JBLM, although some facilities and trails are closed during the winter months.

Historical Locations

Pike Place Market

Started in 1907, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest Farmers Markets in the country.

Pikes place Market Seattle WA

This Seattle attraction has grown from a few shanty booths where farmers sold their fresh produce directly to the customer, to a major Seattle attraction. Not only will you find fresh Northwest Produce, you’ll also find arts & crafts made by local artists, street performers, and historical sites. Across the street from the market is the original Starbucks location. Open 361 days a year starting in early January, Pike Place Market is definitely a must see location.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

During World War II, this shipyard was the primary location for repairing damaged battleships. Out of the eight ships that were bombed in Pearl Harbor, five of them were repaired at this shipyard. This historic location offers tours and often allows visitors to walk aboard ships. Located in Bremerton, WA and right next to the Puget Sound ferry dock.

Mount St. Helens

This active strato volcano is famous for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980. This eruption is considered the most destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. In 1982, Ronald Reagan created the Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument. In 2006 the mountain was reopened to climbers wishing to reach the peak and view the crater. Drive time from JBLM to Mount St Helens is approxmately 4 hours.

Seattle Space Needle

Known as the symbol of Seattle. This observation tower located in the Seattle Center reaches a staggering 605 ft. tall, and was designed by Edward E. Carlson and John Graham Jr. for the 1962 World’s Fair. Visitors can climb aboard the elevator to reach the observation deck, where you can dine at a full service restaurant while the deck does a full 360° rotation every hour.

Annual Events

Although the dates of these events were approximate when added, the event dates might have changed or been canceled. So be sure you verify the dates before making plans.


Seattle Boat Show
Jan 24-Feb 2 2017 ( call to verify)

If you love boats, you’ll definitely want to attend this event. Manufacturers will be showcasing new and concept craft models, as well as a large assortment of marine and boat products for boat owners and enthusiast. This event is held annually at the CenturyLink Field & on the water at South Lake Union.


Washington State Horse Expo
Feb 14-16 2017 ( call to verify)

Sure to satisfy Cowboys stationed at JBLM, this expo features horses of all breeds and varieties. Some of the exciting shows and festivities you’ll see include: Mounted shooting competitions, Extreme Cowboy Races, and instructional shows for proper riding, trail obstacles, and many more. The Washington State Horse Expo is held annually at the Clark County Event Center in Ridgefield, WA.

Chocolate on the Beach Festival
Feb 21 – Feb 24 2017 ( call to verify)

A Chocoholics dream come true! This family festival includes Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, Organic, Fair Trade, and Pet safe chocolates. Events will start Friday night, and vendors will be open Saturday and Sunday. Chocolate recipe contests, and treasure hunts are just some of the fun family festivities that will take place. Adult admission is only $5. This event is held annually at Pacific Beach, WA.


A Taste of Edmonds
Aug 9 – Aug 11 2017 ( call to verify)

A taste of Edmonds; For only $4 admission (Ages 12 and under free) you can experience all the great food that the city of Edmonds has to offer! Once you’ve had your fill on food, you can enjoy the many arts and crafts booths, roaming performers, a wine and beer garden, and go on some exciting rides! This is an annual event held at the Civic Playfield in Edmonds, WA.

Vintage Aircraft Weekend
Aug 30 – Sept 1 2017 ( call to verify)

For three days you can enjoy this airshow with over 60 vintage aircraft! This event includes live music, food, guest speakers, formation clinics, rides, demo flights, and a BBQ competition. This event is held annually at Plaine Field in Everett, WA.


Washington State Fair
Sept 6 – Sept 22, 2017 ( call to verify)

The Washington State Fair (Also known as the Puyallup Fair) is arguably the largest annual event in Washington.

The Puyallup Fair

This massive fair has everything from livestock shows, giant arts & crafts tents, theme park sized rides, to concerts by some of the biggest names in the music industry. Every Monday, military personnel and their families get in free. This year will feature a brand new roller coaster as well as the reopening of their famous wooden roller coaster built in 1935.

Rainier Mountain Festival
Sept 14 – Sept 15, 2017 ( Call to verify)

If you want to visit Mt. Rainier, then this event is the perfect opportunity. With free park admission, and educational courses given by professional mountain guides, as well as huge sales on new and used mountain gear, this is the perfect opportunity to discover all that Mt. Rainier has to offer.


Tacoma Film Festival
Oct 4 – Oct 11, 2017 ( Call to Verify)

Celebrating current idependent film projects from the northwest and around the globe, the TFF is a great opportunity to discovery new and upcoming artists in the film industry.


Note: All information provided is deemed helpful but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified.


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