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San Juan Island National Historic Park
Rich in history – the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over it in 1859 – and loaded with fun and exciting outdoor recreations, San Juan Island National Historic Park is a must see when trekking through Washington.
The starting point for any trip to this exceptional NHP should be the American Camp Visitor Center. You can find the American Camp on San Juan Island's southern peninsula.
American Camp is open all year, minus Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
Unlike many of the other national parks and historical areas across the U.S., there is no fee required to enter San Juan Island. There are certain permits required, though, for things like weddings, horseback riding, and large, organized picnics.
If you're traveling with your pets, you're in luck – pets are permitted on all park trails and beaches at San Juan Island – so long as they are on a leash.
Attractions & Activities
San Juan Island is massive, measuring in at 2,141 acres. You'll have no shortage of things to do and places to explore. The Fourth of July Beach is popular during the summer months, Old Town Lagoon yields fun for all ages, and Jakles Lagoon is one of the premier fishing destinations in the Puget Sound.
See one of the oldest – and still standing – lighthouses in Washington. Don't miss your chance to visit Cattle Point Lighthouse, found on the southeastern ridge of San Juan Island – and try some whale watching.
Plan on some hiking at San Juan Island – you'll find a wide variety of trails. Young Hill is a great way to explore the English Camp. It's just over a half-mile in length, takes you nearly 650 feet high, and yields access to the English Camp Cemetery.
Don't pass on your chance to explore via the Jakles Lagoon Nature Walk. This is a self-guided tour within Jakles Lagoon Natural Area is roughly one full mile, start to finish, and yields exceptional bird watching.
Be sure to visit San Juan Island the last weekend in July for the annual Encampment at English Camp. This re-enactment features actors, and blends visitors into the showcase – it's like you're really in the 19th century. It's all highlighted by the Candlelight Ball, held on the last Saturday in July.