Top Ten 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.

Quick FAQs

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)


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