• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • Sidney, BC--Friday Harbor Ferry Cancelled

    All international departures from Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Sidney, B.C., will be canceled on Thursday, 7/31 and Friday, 8/1 because of a vessel breakdown. The affected westbound departures are Anacortes 8:25 a.m. and 2:50 p.m., and Friday Harbor 9:45. More »

  • Lopez Ferry Run from Anacortes Cancelled Friday

    On Friday, 8/1, the 6:15 a.m. departure from Anacortes to Lopez and the 7:15 a.m. departure from Lopez to Anacortes are canceled due to vessel repositioning throughout the system. 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.

  • 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 »

Things To Know Before You Come

Cyclists pause to enjoy the view on the Redoubt Road at American Camp
Cyclists pause to enjoy the view on the Redoubt Road at American camp. The Olympic Mountains loom in the background.
NPS Photo
 


1. Have a place to stay before you arrive on the island.

This is a common mistake by visitors, especially during the summer months. Sleeping in an automobile is no fun, especially after you've been sitting in the ferry line for six hours or more. The best resource for finding a room in advance:

San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau, tel. 888-468-3701

2. If you're flying in, boating in, or walking onto the ferry, plan a way to tour the island

If you don't do any of the above, you'll find yourself stuck in Friday Harbor, which isn't all that bad, but there's so much else to see. Check out our web page Transportation on San Juan Island or contact the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau.

3. Read up on the history and natural history of the San Juan Islands.

You will know exactly what you want to see and do and because most of the attractions provide directions, you may know your way around better than some islanders. To learn more about the Pig War read The Pig War:Standoff at Griffin Bay (Discover Your Northwest/University of Washington, 18.95), Outpost of Empire: The Royal Marines and the Joint Occupation of San Juan Island (Discover Your Northwest/University of Washington Press, 15.95) or The Pig War (Arcadia Publishing, 19.95). All three titles are by park historian Mike Vouri. For good overviews of the San Juan Islands, see The San Juan Islands (Afoot and Afloat) (The Mountainiers, 16.95) and The Moon Guide to the San Juan Islands (Monn Handbooks, 16.95). All of these titles are available through the park's Discover Your Northwest Online Store.

4. Stay posted to the park's Summer Program Schedule.

It is scheduled to be finished by April 1. If you're especially interested in coming to Encampment (July 26-27, 2014) or our other activities this will help you plan your visit.

5. Bring a raincoat, a fleece and long pants.

Because of the marine climate, it is possible to feel cold on San Juan Island in any season. That's why park staff and volunteers wear layers and islanders carry a pile of external wear clothing on the back seat of their vehicles. Moreoever, the climate can change from one end of the island to the other. For example, the mean rainfall at American Camp is about 22 inches a year, while at English Camp it is 36 inches. And in the summer, hot weather usually brings a chill fog that may linger into late afternoon.

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...