Boat Camping around the San Juan Islands Washington
Boat camping campgrounds and picnic areas are among the lesser-known destinations in the San Juan Islands. It's regrettable because these campgrounds are uniquely beautiful, offering rustic beauty and privacy like nowhere else. Also known as marine parks, boat and kayak camping are a great way to vacation and enjoy the solitude and quiet of the San Juan Islands.
These sites are rarely advertised and any campground information is often passed along by word of mouth. A few printed sources on the subject are available, however, including, "Watertrail: The Hidden Path Through Puget Sound
," by writer/photographer Joel W. Rogers.
The book is about the Cascadia Marine Trail, a 400-mile waterway between Olympia and Point Roberts, Washington, describing its network of 55 shoreline marine camp sites. The parks listed here are on the Trail.
So, if you want to experience something a little different, away from the more-travelled areas, consider Boat-In camping!
Blind Island State Park
Three-acre marine park located near the entrance of Blind Bay, Shaw Island. Includes 1,280 feet of saltwater and rocky shoreline, with year-round moorage available. The park is part of the Cascadia Marine Trail. Four primitive campsites are first-come, first-served. Use of the campsites is restricted to those arriving by human- or wind-powered watercraft. Visitors arriving by vessels with motors may not camp overnight, but may use the island for day use. There is one composting toilet.
Blind Island State Park information
Clark Island State Park
Clark Island is a 55-acre marine park with moorage and 11,292 feet of saltwater shoreline on the Strait of Georgia. Beaches are sandy on the west side of the island and smooth pea gravel on the east side. The park has nine campsites and two vault toilets. A popular kayaking site, providing an important camping and rest site for paddlers traversing the northern San Juan islands.
Clark Island State Park information
Doe Island Marine State Park
Doe Island, 1/4 mile off the eastern shore of Orcas Island, is a small, six-acre island with over 2,000 feet of shoreline and a 44-foot pier. There are designated campsites, picnic areas, a pit toilet, and a loop trail. No drinking water.
Doe Island State Park information
Griffin Bay State Park
Boat camping on 15 acres, the smallest park in the state -- 340 feet of shoreline, bordered on both sides by private property. Four primitive campsites, firepits, vault toilets, and three picnic sites. No drinking water. Garbage must be packed out. Part of the Cascadia Marine Trail -- human- and wind-powered watercraft only.
Griffin Bay State Park information
James Island State Park
James Island State Park is a 113-acre boat camping and moorage park with 12,335 feet of saltwater shoreline on Rosario Strait. Thirteen campsites, located at three locations on the Island.
The Water Trail Site is on a hill above a pocket cove of the West Cove and has three campsites (sites 11-13) and a pit toilet. These campsites are part of the Cascadia Marine Trail and are strictly reserved for use by boats arriving by human- or wind-powered watercraft.
The Saddle area, spanning from the West Cove shoreline across the island to the East Cove, offers six campsites (sites 5-10), a picnic shelter and two picnic sites, composting toilet facilities, pay station and moorage dock. A trail leads to the East Cove where there are four offshore.
The East Cove campground, a short walk from the Saddle area, has four campsites (sites 1-4), one pit toilet, bulletin board and pay station. From here, the loop trail leads southwest to the Water Trail campsites on the southwest side of the West Cove. Boaters moored in the East Cove are exposed to wakes from boat traffic in Rosario Strait.
Much of James Island has been designated a Natural Forest Area and is closed to public access, except for designated recreational areas and trails. Loop trails around the central and southwest portions of the island offer 1.5 miles of hiking trails. The informal trail around the north part of the island is not open for use.
James Island State Park information
Jones Island State Park
Boat camping in Twenty-four primitive sites, including a group site for up to 65 people. Picnic tables and firepits are provided. Drinking water is available during the summer season, and offers vault, composting, and pit toilets. Boat buoys and floats are available for overnight moorage. Site is just outside Doe Harbor, Orcas Island, in a national wildlife and migratory bird refuge. Has two large lawn areas, and docks are in place from April through the middle of October. Leashed pets are permitted.
Jones Island State Park information
Matia Island State Park
Matia Island State Park is a 145-acre marine park with 20,676 feet of saltwater shoreline along Rolfe Cove on the Strait of Georgia. The entire island is a federal wildlife refuge and has use restrictions different from most Washington state parks. With the exception of the boat camping area and the loop trail and its beaches, the island is closed to public access and use in order to protect habitat and wildlife. The park features good fishing and diving. There are interesting geological formations and an old-growth forest.
Park offers six campsites, a sandy beach, one picnic site and a composting toilet. There is no available drinking water. Visitors must pack-out what they pack-in. Open fires are not permitted on the island, even in the campground. Charcoal fuel may be used in the barbecue grills in the campground, but not wood. Gas stoves may be used for cooking.
Matia Island State Park information
Patos Island State Park
Patos Island State Park is a 207-acre marine park with 20,000 feet of saltwater shoreline at Active Cove. The Park offers seven boat camping sites, one picnic site, two pit toilets and one vault toilet, two offshore mooring buoys, and maintains a 1.5 mile loop trail. There is no potable water or garbage service on Patos Island -- visitors must pack out what they pack in.
Patos Island is designated a federal Wilderness Area. Visitor activities onshore are limited to use of the campsites, the 1.5-mile loop trail, and the lighthouse reserve area at Alden Point on the west side of the island. All other portions of the island and the Little Patos Island are closed to public access.
Patos Island State Park information
Posey Island State Park
Posey Island is one-square-acre, and the BIC area is one of the smallest designated campgrounds in Washington state. Located about 1 mile north of Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. There are lots of wildflowers in the spring, including chocolate lilies. Offers two primitive sites. Fire rings and composting toilet provided. A maximum of 16 people allowed at one time. No drinking water, and no docks or mooring buoys. Non-motorized boats only. Garbage must be packed out. Open year round.
Posey Island State Park information
Stuart Island State Park
Located on the north side of Stuart Island, with 23 primitive boat camping sites, reserving four for non-motorized boaters only. Picnic tables and firepits are provided. Drinking water during the summer season, and composting toilets are available. Nineteen buoys, and floats are available for overnight moorage. Garbage must be packed out. Leashed pets are permitted.
Stuart Island State Park information
Sucia Island State Park
Sucia Island State Park is a 564-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline, and is consistently ranked as one of the top boating destinations in the world. The park has 60 campsites, three group sites, three picnic shelters, potable drinking water and composting toilets.
Sucia Island State Park information
Turn Island State Park
Turn Island State Park, a 35-acre boat camping park with 16,000 feet of shoreline, is part of the San Juan National Wildlife Refuge. This State Park has mooring buoys, but no docks. Has 12 primitive sites, with picnic tables and fire rings. Composting toilets are available. No drinking water. Garbage must be packed out. Leashed pets are permitted. Open year round.
Turn Island State Park information
Saddlebag Island Marine State Park
Saddlebag Island Marine State Park, a 24-acre boat camping park with 6750 feet of shoreline, is located in Padilla Bay. Provides picnic and day-use, .9 miles of hiking trails, and 5 primitive camping sites, 1 composting toilet. No potable water or garbage service on the island, so pack out whatever you pack in. Open year round.
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