Right on the coast of Monterey Bay, Fort Ord is located in Monterey County, California. Situated on the site of a former United States Army post, this national monument has 83 miles of trails and dozens of species of plants and animals available to nature-lovers.
The Fort Ord National Monument has a wide and varied history that led to its role today.
Once occupied by the Costanoan Native Americans, the area holds thousands of years of history of Native Americans. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, explorers and ranchers alike had ridden through and settled in this land.
However, the land that Fort Ord National Monument occupies gains its name from its long-term use by the military. For nearly 100 years, Fort Ord served the military as a field-artillery target range and an Army base. Fort Ord currently occupies the site that held Camp Pacific, Camp Clayton, and Camp Ord. This land holds a vast amount of military history and cultural importance. Once the military base at Fort Ord was closed, it became a nature reserve; the lands were set aside for recreation, as well as for the preservation of endangered wildlife. By 2012, Fort Ord National Monument was officially established. Today, thousands of cyclists, nature-enthusiasts, and students visit the monument each year to explore what Fort Ord has to offer.
Permanent Habitats and Attractions
Fort Ord National Monument provides visitors with ample opportunities to explore the land’s natural beauty.
Trails: With over 83 miles of paved and unpaved trails, visitors can view Fort Ord’s natural splendor in any way they choose. Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and cycling are all encouraged, as long as guests remain within these designated trails. Eleven miles of the 103-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail pass through Fort Ord’s grounds as well. Following the reconstructed route of eighteenth-century explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, this trail merges history and nature beautifully.
Wildlife: The Fort Ord National Monument is home to many rare or endangered types of plants and animals. Visitors can see animals, such as red-tailed hawks, gopher snakes, and mountain lions, up close in their natural habitats while partaking in the activities offered by Fort Ord. The vegetation in this area is also a draw for visitors across the country. Rare and seasonal flowers enhance the land’s natural beauty, while grasslands and marshes make up much of this national monument’s lands.
Central Coast Veterans Cemetery: Due to the monument’s history as an Army base, Fort Ord proudly partners with the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery, which is also located in Monterey County. Whether looking to visit a family member who has passed, or simply to pay respects to United States veterans, guests of the monument are invited to visit the cemetery. Interested guests should seek more information from the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery’s website.
Fort Ord takes part in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Junior Explorer program. This program aims to educate young people about the various lands managed by the BLM. Educational materials and fun booklets guide children through the historical and natural elements of Fort Ord National Monument. This program gives young visitors the tools they need to become respectful visitors of national monuments, while also encouraging them to have fun in a beautiful natural environment. These materials can be obtained at Fort Ord or on the Bureau of Land Management’s website.
Fort Ord also partners with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and local schools to provide the Hands on the Land program to students. Focused on providing interactive experiences that enhance learning at national parks and monuments, Hands on the Land allows for students to gain a greater respect for the land. Guided tours and targeted explorations of nature are available to groups of students.
Schools or teachers looking to schedule field trips at the monument should contact the Bureau of Land Management for more information.
Fort Ord offers several regular events to appeal to visitors of the monument.
Fort Ord Tour- This annual tour explores the buildings of the now abandoned Army post located on Fort Ord’s land. Taking groups through areas that are typically closed to the public, visitors can see areas still used for training by the Army, as well as the former base’s other abandoned facilities. Tours last two hours. Guests are invited to contact the Fort Ord Alumni Association for more information.
The Subaru Sea Otter Classic- Occurs annually and is considered to be the world’s largest cycling festival. This event offers fun for cyclists of all levels. Located in Monterey, California, this festival offers a recreational mountain bike ride (called the “Gran Fondo”), which explores 19 miles of the trails at Fort Ord National Monument. Riders can also choose the 29-mile Gravel Grinder Tour. This tour also passes through Fort Ord, offering scenic views of the park. Competitive events, relaxed family fun, and top of the line equipment make this festival perfect for visitors looking for more excitement during their visit to Fort Ord. Registration is required; visitors can visit the Sea Otter Classic website for more information.
Fort Ord Warhorse Day- Originally a veterinary hospital for warhorses, the Fort Ord Station Veterinary Hospital is now the site of the annual Fort Ord Warhorse Day. Held on the grounds of the Fort Ord National Monument, this celebration honors the history of warhorses and promotes the preservation of historic places. A commemorative bike ride, as well as presentations by veterans, is offered.
Dining and Shopping
Fort Ord does not offer any shopping or dining options to visitors, but hungry guests can find plenty to eat in the nearby communities of Salinas and Monterey.
Reservation Rd, Monterey County, CA 93933, Phone: 831-582-2200