Off-the-Rails Adventure

Camping on the San Juan Islands, Washington

The misty fog that lingers around Seattle makes for a romantic and mysterious trip to the Puget Sound; Captain Cook fringed the area on his third and fateful voyage to Hawaii in the 1770s. Island hopping on one of the area's many ferries is a must, as evidenced by the more than one million visitors who set foot on the San Juan Islands each year. But what's there to do once you get to an island? You'll be biking, kayaking, and camping, of course. This isn't a difficult decision when you're dropped in a landscape that includes fir-packed evergreen forest, pastureland, lakes, and views of the Cascades and Olympic Mountains (and distant Mount Rainier on those less foggy days). Wildlife on and around these lush islands includes tawny owls, otters, deer, and orcas. Dotted with state campgrounds, you can easily go it alone, or you can join an organized trip for some more up-scale island touring. One such trip, Bicycle Adventures' "deluxe" camping trip, will have you covering 35 miles a day for five days straight as you cross land and sea between Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands. A wilderness experience you won't forget could include paddling alongside a breaching pod of orcas.

Rail Info
( for full details)

ROUTE: Portland, OR to Seattle, WA
LINE: Coast Starlight
DURATION: 4.5 hours
PRICE: $23 to $36
SCENERY: Redwood forest, snow-covered mountains
ARRIVAL TRANSPORTATION: Pick-up at Amtrak station, airport, or hotel in Seattle for additional $66 if you go with Bicycle Adventures

Activity Info

OUTFITTER: Bicycle Adventures: (888) 509-4210;
WHAT TO BRING: Sleeping bag, hiking boots, flashlight
DURATION: 5 days
PRICE: $998 (bike rental is $116)
WHEN TO GO: June to September

Having earned her B.A. in journalism, Sharael is the climbing guide for and has been published in Working Woman magazine, Outside Online, and Wired News. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, where she enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, and rock climbing.

Published: 27 Nov 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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