• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • English Camp Visitor Contact Station on Summer Schedule

    The English Camp visitor contact station in the Royal Marine Barracks is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily through September 1. Grounds are open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.

  • American Camp Visitor Center on Summer Schedule

    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through September 1. Grounds remain open daily from dawn to 11 p.m More »

  • Brief American and English Camps Visitor Center Closure

    The American and English camps visitor centers will be closed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, August 27. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

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?

West Valley Road on San Juan Island

Many of San Juan Island's roads trace sheep runs cut by Hudson's Bay Company workers. They were led, in part, by Fort Victoria Chief Factor and colonial Gov. James Douglas, from 1853 to 1859. Many of the workers were Cowichan Indians from Vancouver Island.