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 »
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.
Whether traveling on foot, by bicycle, auto, kayak or larger boat, San Juan Island National Historical Park offers a bevy of scenic vistas. Natural and historical landscapes abound, providing windows into the natural beauty and cultural history of San Juan Island.
These features are best viewed from the redoubt. Thick deposits of glacial till can be viewed while walking South Beach east of Pickett’s Lane or looking down from Cattle Point Rd. from the observation pullouts.
Looking toward 290-foot Mt. Finlayson, the contrast between forest and grassland is striking in its abruptness. The north-facing slope is densely forested, retaining moisture, while the south-facing slope is an open prairie, exposed to the drying effects of wind and sun. From the redoubt (an earthen fortification) one gets a feeling of the historic landscape set against the backdrop of prairie, sea and sky.
American Camp dates from 1859, the time of the Pig War. The wooden officers’ quarters and laundress cabin and the white picket fence encompassing the parade ground recall the tensions of the boundary dispute when war nearly broke out over the shooting of a pig.
The redoubt also offers a regional perspective with views of Mt. Baker, the Olympic and Cascade ranges, Vancouver Island, and on an exceptionally clear day even Mt. Rainier, 130 miles up Admiralty Inlet. Sweeping views are also plentiful from the Cattle Point and Redoubt roads and Pickett’s Lane.
Did You Know?
Camas bulbs were so highly prized by Northwest Indians for their creamy potato/baked pear taste that groups sometimes fought over the best growing areas, and people traveled great distances to harvest the bulbs and prepare them into thin, dry cakes. To ensure future harvests, the Indians burned the prairie regularly.