• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • English Camp Visitor Contact Station on Winter Schedule

    The English Camp visitor contact station in the Royal Marine Barracks is closed for the season, starting September 2. Grounds are open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.

  • American Camp Visitor Center on Winter Schedule

    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from September 2 to June 6, 2015. Grounds remain open daily from dawn to 11 p.m. Telephone 360-378-2240, ext. 2227 or 2226 for information. More »

Natural Features & Ecosystems

Close up of Mt. Finalyson's southern slope and glacial terraces.
Mt. Finlayson's glacial terraces were created by a mile-high continental ice sheet that rolled over the San Juan archipelago more than 18,000 years ago. As the glacier melted, the island rose, thus each terrace indicates an ancient beach.
NPS Photo
 

Glaciers and proximity to the sea have shaped the landscape of San Juan Island National Historical Park. From American Camp’s South Beach to English Camp’s 650-foot Young Hill, the park’s varied landscapes are the legacy of repeated glaciation.

Landforms include terraced hillsides, moraines, bluffs and dunes of glacial till, old raised beaches and glacial erratics. Ancient bedrock is exposed along a stretch of headlands at American Camp and outcrops at the top of Young Hill. Two brackish lagoons are separated from Garrison Bay by shifting sand/gravel dunes.

Shoreline in the park varies from long stretches of sand/gravel beaches, to rocky headlands interspersed with coves and pocket beaches, to a tranquil, deep bay with mudflats at low tide. The varied landforms of the park support a variety of ecosystems and biological communities that can be explored and enjoyed by all.

Did You Know?

Belle Vue Sheep Farm in 1859

Belle Vue Sheep Farm, founded in 1853 on San Juan Island, was a classic HBC sheep station with two rows of tidy log houses, heavy-duty fencing for sheep pens and an English-style, double-bay barn. Its establishment created tensions that nearly brought war with the United States. More...