Jackson Beach

Color photograph of a driftwood covered beach with water nearby
Jackson Beach is known for its recreational opportunities on and off shore

Quick Facts
Friday Harbor, WA

Beach/Water Access, Benches/Seating, Bicycle - Rack, Canoe/Kayak/Small Boat Launch, Cellular Signal, Fire Pit, Grill, Parking - Auto, Pets Allowed, Picnic Shelter/Pavilion, Picnic Table, Restroom, Scenic View/Photo Spot

Once a bustling fisherman’s community known as Argyle, today, Jackson Beach is a popular local park, operated by the Port of Friday Harbor. At Jackson Beach, visitors can launch their kayaks and boats, build a bonfire in fire pits, have a large picnic in the picnic shelter, stroll the rocky beach, and observe nearby Lopez Island and the distant mountains of the North Cascades. Dogs particularly love Jackson Beach and they are often seen with their owners, walking its rocky shore.           

At the western edge of Jackson Beach is the hulking remains of a salmon cannery. In the early 20th century, salmon canning was a major business on San Juan Island, because prior to widespread refrigerated transportation salmon had to be preserved near where they were caught. San Juan Island had some of the best salmon fishing anywhere in the Pacific Northwest because the Salmon Bank, a long, shallow shelf offshore from South Beach provided a key place for migratory salmon to feed during their spawning journeys. Hundreds of people worked in the salmon industry or profited from it including Eliza Jakle,Henry Cayou, and hundreds of Chinese immigrants who worked in the cannery. Unfortunately, overexploitation led the salmon industry to decline, leading to the closure of these canneries.

Nearby Jackson Beach is a pristine natural area known as the Argyle Lagoon Biological Preserve. This 14 acre area administered by the University of Washington includes a tidal creek and a massive lagoon where shellfish and fish research occur. Beside the cannery is another, less trafficked beach known as North Bay Beach which is also open to the public. If you explore the Argyle Lagoon respect the rules that prohibit fishing and shellfish gathering so that this area, once home to a massive fishing operation can flourish and the University of Washington's scientists can continue to learn about our marine world from this special reserve

San Juan Island National Historical Park

Last updated: August 17, 2022