San Juan County

San Juan Island

San Juan is the most heavily populated of the four islands served by the Washington State Ferries. Nearly half of its 4,000 inhabitants reside in the town of Friday Harbor (the county seat), home to a fishing fleet and several hundred pleasure craft. It's the only incorporated village in all of the islands.

Parks, Beaches and Recreation Areas

Cattle Point Interpretive Site Park
Cattle Point is a 10-acre park at the very southeast point of San Juan Island. You'll find sand dunes, a rarity in the islands, and bald and golden eagles. Cattle Point is a day-use area only, and includes eight picnic sites, a shelter, drinking water, and outdoor toilets. There's a lovely, hidden cove just beyond the park's last rise (but don't tell the locals I shared this secret with you).

From Friday Harbor's waterfront, drive southwest on Spring Street. Turn left (south) on Argyle Road and continue for approximately 2.5 miles. Turn left (south) on Cattle Point Road and proceed for 6.5 miles to the park. (360) 856-3500 or (800) 527-3305.

Lime Kiln State Park
This 39-acre day-use park is the only one in the world intended specifically for whale-watching. The park, set on a rocky headland with a lighthouse built in 1919, serves as a prime whale-watching site. It overlooks Haro Strait, on the west side of San Juan Island, and has 2,500 feet of shoreline. From June to September, whales pass about three-quarters of a mile offshore. Orcas are a common sight, swimming in pods of up to 30. Leashes are required on your pooches.

From Friday Harbor's waterfront, drive southwest on Spring Street. Turn left (south) on San Juan Valley Road. Turn left (south) on Wold Road, then right (west) on Bailer Hill Road. Bailer Hill Road becomes Westside Road and leads into the park. (360) 378-2044 or (800) 233-0321.

San Juan County Park
San Juan Island's only camping park includes 20 campsites and a boat launch. Leashed dogs are welcome. It's located at Smallpox Bay, on the western-central shore of the island. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis in the off-season. Car-camping rates are $15 per night, for up to four people. Hikers, kayakers, and walk-in campers pay $5. There are no hookups or showers, but you'll see plenty of eagles and orcas, and there's a great view.

From the ferry landing, turn left (southeast) on Front Street. Drive on Front Street for two blocks, then turn right (southwest) on Spring Street. Spring Street becomes San Juan Valley Road near the western city limits. From San Juan Valley Road, turn left (south) on Wold Road, then turn right (west) on Bailer Hill Road. Bailer Hill Road becomes Westside Road and continues north up the coast. Once you've passed Lime Kiln State Park, look for San Juan County Park Road, which leads into the park. (360) 378-2992.

San Juan Island National Historical Park
This park allows leashed dogs, both in the park and on many of the guided summer tours. It's a wonder and a rarity that the National Park Service permits dogs to enter at all, since there is so much wildlife here, including foxes. However, the rangers are strict about issuing $75 tickets to the handlers of unleashed dogs.

The park is comprised of two areas, about 15 miles apart. American Camp is set on the southern tip of the island, and English Camp is near Roche Harbor, on the island's northwest corner. Both the British and the Americans laid claim to the San Juans, and their former encampments are the historic sites of the Pig War of 1854— an altercation between an American settler and his British neighbor, which led to the shooting of the Brit's pig. Excellent narrated tours are given by park staff on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and you'll find numerous opportunities for hiking, beach-combing, and bird-watching. There's a 1.25-mile trail with fine views of the water that leads from English Camp to Mount Young. At an elevation of 590 feet, Mount Young is the highest accessible point on San Juan Island.

To reach American Camp from the ferry landing, drive on Spring Street to Mullis Road. Turn left on Mullis Road, and drive for approximately six miles to the park. To reach English Camp from the ferry landing, proceed on Spring Street to Second Street. Turn right on Second Street, and drive approximately nine miles to the park. (360) 378-2240.


Cannery House Restaurant: You and your pawed fella can sit outside and share a delicious lunch at the Cannery House. The restaurant is open daily and offers soups, sandwiches, salads, crab, shrimp, Mexican dishes, and fresh baked goodies. You can even get a picnic lunch packed for you. 174 First Street; (360) 378-2500.

San Juan Donut Shop: Hitch your leashed partner to the marquee post out front, and pop in to order a take-out lunch. The donut shop is also a restaurant and bakery. 225 Spring Street; (360) 378-2271.

Places to Stay

Blair House Bed and Breakfast Inn: Blair House accommodates dogs and their humans at a private cottage, only four blocks from the Friday Harbor ferry dock. For $165 to $185 per night (there is no minimum stay, which is a rarity on the island), you get a stocked kitchen, hot tub, deck, barbecue, and four acres of running room for Fido. A full breakfast is included. You'll share the swimming pool with guests staying in the main house. 345 Blair Avenue, Friday Harbor, WA 98250; (360) 378-5907. B&B; hot line: (360) 378-3030.

Lakedale Campground: You can bring your leashed dog to Lakedale for a fee of $1 per night. This chummy, 82-acre campground-bordered by two lakes-includes 125 campsites. You'll find excellent swimming, hiking, canoeing, and trout fishing here. Fishing licenses are not required, but there is a daily fishing fee. The campground also has a small grocery and coin-operated showers. Lakedale is open from March 15 to October 15. Car-camping rates are $24 per night (for two people) during July and August, and $19 per night the rest of the year. In July and August, bicyclists pay $8 per night, and $7 for the remaining months.

From the San Juan Island ferry landing, turn left (southeast) on Front Street. Drive one block on Front Street and turn right (southwest) on West Street. Proceed on West Street for two blocks and turn right (northwest) on Second Street. Turn left (west) on Guard Street (at the Friday Harbor High School) and continue for one block. Turn right (north) on Tucker Avenue. After four blocks on Tucker Avenue, turn left (northwest) on Roche Harbor Road. Lakedale is four miles ahead on your left. (360) 378-2350 or (800) 617-CAMP.

San Juan County Park camping: See above.

Snug Harbor Marina Resort: Pooches are allowed throughout Snug Harbor Resort, located on Mitchell Bay, north of Lime Kiln State Park and San Juan County Park. High-season rates for this marine resort's bungalows range from $80 to $205, and dogs are $5 extra per night; 9 tent sites are available for $15 per day; 25 RV sites cost $40 per day. 1997 Mitchell Bay Road, Friday Harbor, WA 98250; (360) 378-4762.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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