Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have camp sites available?
No camping is available at San Juan Island National Historical Park. "English Camp" and "American Camp" refer to the 19th century British Royal Marine and U.S. Army posts at each park unit.
What is the fee?
There are no fees in the park, except for special use permits.
Can I see Orca whales from either site?
Orcas may be spotted from South Beach and the bluffs at American Camp. Check at the visitor center, 4668 Cattle Point Road, for information on the most recent sightings.
How long does it take to drive between English and American camps?
The camps are 13 miles apart and depending upon traffic it requires about 25 minutes to make the drive.
How many national parks are in the San Juan Islands?
San Juan Island National Historical Park is the only national park in the islands.
Was the pig, whose shooting death nearly started a war between the United States and Great Britain, owned by a British subject or U.S. citizen?
The pig was the property of the British-owned Hudson's Bay Company. It was shot by Lyman Cutlar, a U.S. citizen, for rooting in his potato patch.
Who ate the pig?
We don't know.
When I pay my ferry fare, does it cover one way or round trip to the island?
How can we get to the park from the ferry?
Click on this link for directions.
Can we visit the park in one day?
If you wish to hike every trail (which we recommend) and, if you visit on the weekend, see living history, plan on portions of two days.
Where's the best beach?
Without question the favorite beach among San Juan Islanders is Grandma's Cove at American Camp. It is a bit strenuous walking back up the hill, but the beach features fine sand, tidepools and reasonably warm shallows at low tide. Don't wade too far out, though. The waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are 54 degrees!
What can we actually see from the historical period? Can we enter the buildings?
English Camp has four historic structures, American Camp three, including the redoubt, an earthen fortification. The Royal Marine barracks serves as the English Camp visitor center and the lower floor of the blockhouse is open for inspection. Both buildings at American Camp are closed to the public. However, the redoubt offers one of the most spectacular sea-level views in the National Park Service.
When's the best time to see wildflowers?
Mid-March through the summer at both English and American camps. Among the species are camas, death camas, lupine, fawn lilies, chocolate lilies, shooting star and Indian paint brush.
Did You Know?
The English Camp barracks was originally used as the privates' mess until extended in 1867. During the restoration process in the early 1970's a pot of gold coins and currency was found in the attic. The treasure belonged to the Crook family, who settled on the site in 1875.