Recently President Obama designated five new national monuments. The new additions bring the National Park System up to 401 park units including the first national park property in Delaware. Also among the five is San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State.
The San Juan Islands are unique as they are comprised of about 75 sites over about 1000 acres. Many of these sites are not easy to access for most visitors because they are small islands and reefs. The best way to get to the more remote pieces is by kayak. The San Juan Islands are a fantastic kayaking destination. You will float along with Chinook salmon and possibly even an orca. One of the islands is called Orcas Island after all.
For those looking for a more casual visit you can take a ferry to Lopez, Orcas, Shaw, or San Juan. Once on the islands you have more options to choose from including hiking, biking, bird watching, or just relaxing. The lush green trees contrasting with the beautiful blue waters can make any nature lover’s day.View from American Camp on San Juan Island
Should you head to San Juan Island be sure to stop into the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor before heading out. From there head over to Lime Kiln Point State Park, aka Whale Watch Park, to try to catch a glimpse of one of the three local orca pods that are frequent visitors. If you are one of the unfortunate few, like I was, to not see any orcas at the world’s only land based orca viewing park there is still plenty more to see. We spotted seals and eagles and took in the fantastic Lime Kiln lighthouse. For those looking for some history on their visit to San Juan you can visit the locations of American Camp and English Camp. These were the locations that the Americans and British set up during the Pig War “Crisis” from 1859-1872. The “Crisis” ended peacefully with the US taking ownership of San Juan Island.
To learn more about the San Juan Islands go to www.visitsanjuans.com