Washington State coastal camping

I’d like to keep expenses down by camping on the mainland but close to the Ferry system for the San Juan Islands. Not sure if I’ll bring a sea kayak or not at this point. Maybe just a bicycle and a small motorcycle. I’d probably spend around 4 or 5 days exploring anything of interest in the area. Also interested in scenic hiking trails. I’ll be in a small travel trailer.

I used to kayak a lot, including class-IV WW and rock gardens and surf in the sea kayak but (other then lakes) I’ve been away from it for about 4 year now.

If anyone can offer suggestions based on the above information it would be much appreciated.



intriguing idea
where geographically, do you live at home ?

The state ferries to the San Juan Islands start with hopping over from Anacortes.

The huge state park near Deception Pass has at least two campgrounds. There is also a city campground not far from the Anacortes ferry teminal.

Lots of summer traffic, so be prepared.

Area is reserved
Search in Google Maps: Port Townsend, WA

3 Parks on the map, Worden, Fort Casey in green and Flagler on Marrowstone Island, not in green. Flagler is AAA.

If a ferry ride plans for Fri/Sat then Uneeda ferry reservation.

The area suffers 45 day Canadian summers.

The area is booked solid so go online n check for availability at these Parks.

Bring a baseball cap.

Try Eby’s Head for walking.

The Makah at the end have a large seaside Park. The Makah is the all round World Class choice. Search this. Bicycle, walk down the Coast trail.

, check the boardwalk for coast as was.

, hike up the hill for a view of Tatoosh. Bring binocs.

Lake Ozette has a bar with camping n

wifi. Best hiking .

Rainier’s west side has free camping.

Do not ‘visit Seattle.’


Actually it WOULD be nice to avoid Seattle altogether. If the Port Townsend ferry system serves the San Juan’s, that sounds like a good place to use as a base-camp. And it would open up other options on the Olympic Peninsula. Also might be a less crowded area then Anacortes?


Keep it simple.
My inclination would be to avoid taking the camp trailer on the ferry to the islands. The motorcycle, or walk-on might be the way to go. This pertains to the ferry from Anacortes to the islands. The ferry to, or from Port Townsend is a different matter. Be prepared for a possible long wait.

I would advise not to even think about paddling across to the islands. The Rosario Straits might look very inviting, but conditions can change in a instant. I’ve seen fog move in faster than you can paddle and it sometimes lasts for days. Inside the islands is like a domed mini-climate.

Washington Park (Anacortes) might be the best place for a base camp if you can get a spot. Make reservation arrangements well ahead of time for a campsite.

Ferry does not go between PT & Anacortes

– Last Updated: Jul-08-16 12:55 PM EST –

PT ferry goes to Coupeville on Whidbey Island. From there, you would have to drive to Anacortes to access ferries to the San Juan Islands.

You must make advance reservations to take cars on the ferry.

The Olympic Peninsula is bigger than Anacortes and therefore spreads the crowds out more, BUT it is still filled with tourists in summer. The national park campgrounds and the coastal state park campgrounds such as Forts Worden and Flagler tend to be full even on weeknights. Better plan on making reservations well in advance.

Fort Townsend State Park (NOT Fort Worden but a llittle outside the PT city limits) has a summer-only campground as well, and it *might* be easier to find a campsite there.

There is also a campground at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds which is less likely to fill up. It is in Port Townsend but not next to the sea, if this matters.

With a lot of local events such as big music festivals and workshops scheduled for literally every weekend (and many weekdays) in PT until late September, you should not plan on just showing up with a trailer. If just a motorcycle and tent, the county fairgrounds should be able to accommodate you. Otherwise, call ahead and reserve.

I have heard people complain about missing a ferry out of PT and not having any place to stay, so consider yourself warned. If you can't camp, the lodging is very expensive...if you can get it.

It’s PT to Coupeville on Whidbey Island, not the San Juans. I actually happen to work on the water out of both Port Angeles (on the peninsula) and Anacortes and you’re looking at very different water and wind on the peninsula. We had 6-8 foot wind waves last week on the peninsula while from Anacortes it was just 1/2 foot chop. Please do lots of research before you go if that’s your plan.

ach !

– Last Updated: Jul-08-16 6:20 PM EST –

The San Juans are WA's Martha's Vineyard/Cape Cod.

the place is a place for melding into the landscape.



Given the almost absolute fact there are no more reservations this summer for ordinary mortals to the San Juan Islands, the peninsula is a good deal IF there are available reservations.

AFAIK, the Makah have space n there’s always the dump. The Ozette bar WAS always empty.

I worked with the Orca pod paddling a CD Solstice Titan with hydrophone n Raven out of Smallpox Bay at San Juan County Park.. The County and State were very accommodating. If summer were longer I would live there a while. I’m on the Gulf Coast.

The road to Makah is one of the USA’s top drives.

We may write…..there are NO….and tourists from Manhattan KS will not believe us the advice gong thru one ear n out…. But believe you me THERE ISMNOMMORE AVAILABLE SPACE.

N we’re not gonna tell you HOW either. Are we magooch ?

Doahn go to Seattle. many Euro tourist would speak with me as my rig is impre$$ive...and the Orca were/are my friends.

N I would say 'why not go to blah blah blah' and they would say ...'Well we only have x days so we're going to visit...' Unreal.


Great hiking and kayaking
In the San Juans, you could get a little of both. Hiking in Moran State Park (Orcase Island) is pretty nice. I think it is cheap to take your bike on the ferry. On none of those islands do you need a car. I camped at Jones Island State Park in the San Juans, and we encountered groups of kayakers on guided tours. So, I feel sure you could rent a kayak if you were so inclined.

I overnighted in Camano State Park, between Seattle and Anacortes, but way at the end of a penninsula in August. The place was empty. On the San Juans, anywhere the ferries go, camping was tight.

Not Port Townsend, but I also camped and hiked on the Olympic Peninsula in August. Again camping was tight. I got a hotel one night after finishing my hike across the peninsula, in Quilcene. It was a weeknight and there were vacancies.

As far as suggestions, you need to decide what you want to do and what gear you are going to bring. It is a fabulous area of the country and so many opportunities for outdoor activities.


is downwind an oil refinery. A 2nd on Discovery Bay, 3rd NW of Bellingham.

If you’re too late for reservations for the San Juans, consider coming to SW Washington and paddle the mighty Columbia. This river has it all in spades and then some. Beautiful sandy beach islands all over the place and they’re all free. You can pick your own island and most of the time have it all to yourself. There are dozens of state campgrounds all over the place and they should have plenty of room.

Check out Rainier, Oregon, Kalama, Washington, Paradise Pt. State Park on the East Fork of the Lewis. So much to see and do. If you’re into lakes–we’ve gotem. Try Riffe, Mayfield, Merwin, Coldwater–sorry too late for the best ever Spirit Lake.

Skamokawa County Park ?

– Last Updated: Jul-09-16 2:57 PM EST –


I may have a trip outline here...there's a rental outfit in Skamo...

paddle north ( EAST STUPID EAST)inside then outside n across to next side baylet then west n choose your return channel.

tidal if possible

Brownsmead is a Holland land fill..

excellent beaches

Long Island is the Red Neck Riviera

Bay City is one of a kind and getting there you pass the ranger station...bring the rental yak for a circumnavigation

Bay City is an inside of Wa's tidal flats.

what route / name of ? /start-finish ?

writ a paragraph or 2 ?

interested in the Coppermine ?

The whole archipelago of the San Juan Islands is a great place to paddle,
Provided that you bring a tide table and know how to use it.
When the tide is running, very large volumes of water move between islands and bays sometimes through narrow channels. Currents can easily by faster than you can paddle. Tidal rips can go to 3-4 feet right in front of you in deep water. The water is always cold even in late summer rarely over around 55 degrees. Wear a PFD and dress for immersion.

Give way to power boats, especially barges pulled by tug boats and commercial traffic. Watch out for cetaceans like killer whales and give them room.