The San Juan Island National Park comprises two historic properties on opposite ends of the island: English Camp on the north and American Camp to the south. These two camps now stand as a monument to an incident in 1859 that nearly led the United States and Great Britain to start a war over possession of the island. The incident in question? An American farmer killed an Irishman’s pig—hence the name Pig War, which thankfully was settled off the battlefield.
One of the most noticeable things about these two areas that make up the San Juan Island National Park is how distinct the landscape is on each end of the island. One sits on wooded acreage, while the other on expansive open meadows. While both parks are picturesque, it is fascinating to see the contrast between them and witness how one 14.5 by 6.5-mile island can encompass such a varied topography.
Before you start filling your itinerary with San Juan Island National Park visits, you’ll want to settle on your lodging accommodations. Our Inn Collection in Friday Harbor is an excellent choice. Just minutes from the ferry landing, our San Juan Island Bed and Breakfast has cozy rooms for two and more spacious suites for family getaways, many of which are pet-friendly. Our warm and welcoming hospitality is unparalleled—join us and come see for yourself. We can’t wait to host you!
San Juan Island National Park: American Camp
Located on the southernmost point of San Juan Island, American Camp sits in the middle of this portion of San Juan Island National Historical Park—which also encompasses a few other favorite landmarks on the island, including the Cattle Point Lighthouse, South Beach, Mount Finlayson, and 4th of July Beach. The landscape of this end of the island offers elevated views from sweeping bluffs with grasslands (often covered in wildflowers in the spring) and driftwood-strewn beaches.
The views include the Cattle Point Lighthouse, Olympic Peninsula, and Vancouver Island. The short, moderately strenuous hike to the summit of Mount Finlayson provides an excellent outlook stretching all the way to the North Cascades. This San Juan Island National Park is the ideal spot to catch golden hour for Instagram-worthy shots and one of the most panoramic and impressive sunset locations.
San Juan Island National Park: English Camp
Thirteen miles away on the Northern end of San Juan Island, English Camp sits on the shores of the calm and serene Garrison Bay. You’ll notice right away how the landscape differs on this side of the island, with forests of Madrona trees and lush pines. Head down to the English settlement to check out the historical buildings and mini-hedge maze still manicured and maintained.
This San Juan Island National Park is the trailhead for the popular Young Hill hike. This route is only two miles round trip and offers enough elevation to get your heart pumping. You’ll weave through some beautiful woodlands, which open up onto a few panoramic vistas worth the climb. After your trek, plan on heading to Westcott Bay Shellfish for oysters on the half-shell, steamed mussels, and your much-earned glass of crisp white wine.
The Best Place to Relax After a Day Exploring
A getaway to San Juan Island is all about unplugging, resetting, and reconnecting with nature. Thankfully, our San Juan Island Inn Collection is one of the best places to do just that. We offer various lodging options that can fit any vacation style, whether romantic, family-oriented, or friendship-building. You’ll also love our list of complimentary amenities included with your stay, like our homemade breakfast delivery service, freshly baked afternoon treats, and beautiful bath products in every room.