Does life in the Army ever get better than a posting to Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM)? OCONUS installations aside, this might be one of the most breathtakingly stunning places to call home. The Pacific Northwest region of our country is home to pristine nature, amazing outdoor adventures, and some of the freshest food around. But that’s not all. When you live in Washington state, you’ll be positioned well to have so many exciting adventures. From day trips to Mt. Rainier to longer driving the west coast, your time at Fort Lewis is going to be spectacular. Read on to find out more about this amazing Washington Army base.
Joint Base Lewis McChord is a premier installation in the Pacific Northwest. It provides world-class installation support to more than 40,000 service members and around 15,000 civilian workers. This base incorporates Fort Lewis, McChord Field, and Camp Murray.
As far as Ft. Lewis weather is concerned, it honestly doesn’t rain all the time. However most of what you’ve heard about the gray skies is true. Spring is the rainy season but the weather starts to look up around the end of June. Perfect for a Fourth of July cookout! But don’t expect too much warmth. Highs are only ever in the upper 70s. More rain comes in autumn and winter is pretty chilly. The area does get some snow but it’s not that significant.
Ft. Lewis Washington Location
JBLM includes four areas: Lewis Main, Lewis North, McChord Field, and Yakima Training Center. There are nearly 400,000 acres of land across the installation.
Ft. Lewis is just about 45 miles south of Seattle, Washington. If you’re driving, you’ll have no trouble spotting the massive installation. Interstate 5 splits it in half. Exit 120 takes you right to the main gate.
Driving Directions from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Follow the signs to access I-5 and head south going toward Tacoma. Then, stay on I-5 until you reach Exit 125 for McChord Field and Bridgeport Way. Follow signs to enter Ft. Lewis.
If you’re driving a rental, you’ll need a temporary pass for the vehicle. You can get one at the Visitor’s Center.
You can arrive to Ft. Lewis by plane, train, or automobile!
The closest train station is in Tacoma. That’s about 10 miles from the installation.
If you choose to fly, you’ll land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. What’s super exciting about that is there’s a shuttle service available from the airport directly to Waller Hall Welcome Center! There are also plenty of car rental agencies if you want to drive yourself.
Gates and Hours
As you might expect given its size, JBLM has a lot of gates. In fact, there are 15 established entry points onto the installation. Currently three are closed until further notice.
Dupont Gate – Open 0500 to 2100 Monday through Friday and 0900 to 1700 Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays.
East Gate – Open 24/7
Liberty Gate – Open 24/7
Logistics Center POV/CVIP – Open 0500 to 1800 Monday through Friday.
Madigan MAMC Gate – Open 24/7
MAMC Gate (CVIP) – Open 24/7 on Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays, and nights only during the week, from 1830 to 0500.
RCF Gate – Open 0500 to 0800 Monday through Friday (inbound only) and 1500 to 1900 Monday through Friday (outbound only).
Transmission Line Gate (ASP) – Open 0500 to 1300 Monday through Friday.
Visitor Control Center – Open 0500 to 2200, seven days a week.
41st Division Gate – Open 24/7.
Integrity Gate (POV/CVIP) – Open 0500 to 2100 Monday through Friday and 0800 to 2100 Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays, with CVIP open 0500 to 1300 Monday through Friday.
Barnes Gate – Open 0500 to 2000 seven days a week.
Main Gate – Open 24/7
Visitor Center – Open 0600 to 1930 seven days a week.
Woodbrook Housing Gate – Open 0500 to 0800 and 1500 to 1800 Monday through Friday and 0800 to 1700 Saturday, Sunday, and federal holidays.
Army Career & Alumni Program (ACAP) (253) 967-3258
ACS (Army Community Service) (253) 967-7166
Barracks/Single Service Member Housing (253) 967-7004
Base Operator (253) 967-1110
Beachwood School-Age Center (253) 967-2600
Beauty/Barber Shops (253) 964-3252
Chapels (253) 967-4849
Child and Youth Registration and Referral (253) 967-2494
Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (253) 967-2131
Clarkmoor Child Development Center (253) 967-2300
Commissary (253) 966-3141
Dental Clinics (253) 968-1240
EFMP Family Support (253) 967-9704
Employment Readiness Program (253) 967-3538
Family Center (253) 967-7166
Family Child Care (253) 967-2494
Hospital/Medical Treatment Facility (253) 968-1110
Household Goods/Transportation Office (253) 477-5446
Housing Office/Government Housing (253) 967-5165
ID/CAC Card Processing (253) 967-5065
Information and Referral Services (253) 967-7166
Inprocessing (253) 967-3995
Legal Services/JAG (253) 966-7526
Leisure Travel Center (253) 967-3085
Library (253) 967-7736
Morale, Welfare & Recreation (253) 967-5200
Loan Closet (253) 967-3645
Madigan Army Medical Center (253) 968-1370
Madigan Child Development Center (253) 967-2800
Main Youth Center/ Sports (253) 967-4441
Military Clothing Sales (253) 964-3966
Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) (253) 967-7776
North Fort Youth Center (Middle School and Teen Center)(253) 966-7166
Operation: Red Dot Real Estate (253) 300-6300
Outprocessing (253) 967-2975
Relocation Readiness Program (RRP) (253) 967-3628
School Liaison Office (253) 967-7195
Stone Education Center (253) 967-7174
Temporary Lodging/Billeting (253) 964-0211
VA Facilities (253) 582-8440
Waller Hall (253) 967-7446
Welcome/Visitors Center (253) 967-7446
Mission and Units
JBLM’s mission is to provide state of the art training and infrastructure for all branches of the military.
The installation is home to both the 62nd Airlift Wing and the First Corps. The First Corps’ mission is to “deploy, fight, and win” in any environment. This is achieved by driving deployment readiness and shaping the battlefield. Subordinate commands of the First Corps include the 7th Infantry Division, the 25th Infantry Division (Schofield Barracks, HI) and U.S. Army Alaska.
The 62nd Airlift Wing, along with the 446th Airlift Wing fly 40 C-17 Globemaster IIIs to provide combat airlift support. Additionally, the installation is home to the Western Air Defense Sector, an Air National Guard unit; the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron and the 361st Recruiting Squadron.
The 7th Infantry Division, 1st Special Forces Group, 2nd Battalion and the 75th Ranger Regiment are also on post. Additionally, there are several other tenant commands. Speaking of the 75th Ranger Regiment, here’s everything you need to know about Army Rangers. In 2014, the 2nd Infantry Division Artillery was stood up at JBLM.
Ft. Lewis Washington History
Ft. Lewis is named for the famous Lewis and Clark expedition that helped map America. Back in 1917, the War Department established Camp Lewis on 70,000 acres of land donated by the state of Washington. The 91st Wild West Division trained at Camp Lewis until it departed for France in 1918.
Then in 1947, McChord Air Force Base was established. That’s the same year the Air Force became its own branch of the military!
In 2010, the two installations merged in response to the Base Realignment Closure Commission (BRAC). Now, it’s the largest Army-led joint base in America.
Things to Do Around Ft. Lewis Washington
Ft. Lewis Washington is surrounded by pristine nature and plenty of outdoor activities. The Puget Sound offers year-round boating, fishing, whale watching, and scuba diving. Take a 90-minute scenic drive to the majestic Cascade Mountains, or visit the region’s most recognizable landmark, Mt. Rainier. For more adventures, head two hours south to Portland, Oregon, or fly a kite at family-friendly Ocean Shores, where you can drive your vehicle directly onto the beach.
Best Western Liberty Inn Dupont (253) 912-8777
Candlewood Suites Lakewood, an IHG Hotel (253) 584-0686
Days Inn by Wyndham Lakewood South Tacoma (253) 292-2872
Holiday Inn Tacoma Mall (253) 548-1212
TownePlace Suites Tacoma Lakewood (253) 582-1055
Foodies and non-foodies alike are going to love living in the Pacific Northwest. Nearby Spokane has a thriving food scene that features food from everywhere around the world. Of course since it’s Washington, there are tons of great coffee shops all around. Don’t skimp on the luxury of a long brunch. You’ll thank yourself for it later. Since you’re in the Evergreen State, you won’t want to miss out on fresh seafood including salmon and crab. Be sure to try a razor clam. It’s native only to the upper Pacific Coast, so you won’t find it anywhere else. Be sure to sample the state’s famous cherries and apples, too!
Because it’s a joint Army-Air Force post, you can take advantage of Space A travel departures and arrivals from base. Check the current schedule to plan your next adventure!
As you might expect, outdoor recreation options are unlimited in the PNW. In fact, on clear days, you’ll be able to see Mt. Rainier from post! If that doesn’t get you excited about hiking, probably nothing will.
If you’re looking for indoor fun, be sure to check out the JBLM Museum. It’s located inside the Red Shield Inn. In fact, it’s the only west coast military museum certified by the Army! Or, head out to Federal Way and check out the Pacific Bonsai Museum. There are over 150 bonsai trees from all over the world.
Ft. Lewis Washington Housing
Housing wait times at Ft. Lewis Washington can be very long, especially if you’re PCSing in peak season. Here are some tips to help you perfect your PCS game. The best thing to do is get your name on a wait list as soon as you can. Housing in the greater Tacoma Seattle area can be expensive, so living on post might be the most economical for you and your family.
Like nearly all DoD installations, JBLM housing is privatized. Liberty Military Housing owns and manages housing on post. In addition to updates to all existing housing, the company is also constructing new housing. There are 22 neighborhoods to choose from, each with its own distinct flair. Talk to the MHO for more information.
All Soldiers E1-E4 and some E5s are required to live in the barracks. Call the Bachelor Housing Office as soon as you receive orders to discuss availability.
Schools Near Ft. Lewis Washington
Mil-kids have access to both on and off installation schools. Preschool and elementary schools are available on the installation. However, junior high students attend Woodbrook Middle School. High school students will attend Clover Park High School or Lakes High School. Private school options are also available.
If you live off post, your children will attend school in the community closest to where they live. If you wish to homeschool your child, you need to register with the district. Speak with the School Liaison Office for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happened to Fort Lewis?
After the 2005 BRAC commission, Ft. Lewis merged with McChord Airfield to create Joint Base Lewis McChord
What’s the population of JBLM?
There are more than 40,000 service members and around 15,000 civilian workers at the installation.
How long was Fort Lewis active before merging?
Ft. Lewis has been active since 1917!
What is Fort Lewis known for?
Ft. Lewis is known for being a dynamic installation. In fact, it has more than 50 training areas, more than 90 ranges, and options for desert, woodland, and amphibious training capabilities.