Camping Orcas Island, Washington
Summer is just getting into full swing and we are already planning our fall get away trips. The crowds will have taken the mosquitos with them and gone home. It will be time for us to enjoy some of those beautiful and less crowded campgrounds in the San Juan Islands. Orcas Island camping can be a full week experience or you can island hop and enjoy some of the great camping on Lopez or San Juan Island.
Where to Camp on Orcas-
- There are more camping options on Orcas than other islands and if you are a tent camper this is the place for you. We like Moran State Park with its 5000 acres of hiking, biking and great camping for tents and RVs. The Mountain Lake campground puts you right at the start of many trails. Make reservations in advance.http://moranstatepark.com/
- If you are a tent camper and want to be on the water be sure to check out Doe Bay Resort and Retreat Center. They rent cabins and yurts but also have some very unusual walk in tent sites with stunning views.https://doebay.com/
- West Beach Resort has a few tent and RV sites but their biggest attraction are their west-facing shoreline beach cabins.http://www.westbeachresort.com/
- Families with children should check out Mount Baker Family Campground. This is a relatively new campground with several walk-in tent only sites. They have a full gage railroad that runs through the property and several farm animals to entertain the whole family.https://mountbakerfarm.com/
Camping at Doe Bay
Moran State Park
Activities on Orcas-
- If you are a hiker there are 30 miles of trails in Moran State Park. Challenge yourself by hiking up to Mount Constitution from Mountain Lake. Walk through a beautiful forest on your way. The top of the hike is 2409 feet and while others usually drive up, you will enjoy a great sense of accomplishment if you hike to the top. Pack a lunch and enjoy the view.
Hiking Mt. Constitution
- There are five lakes to explore in the park. Rent one of the boats, paddleboards or canoes at the park concession on Cascade Lake.
- Drive toward West Sound and take a hike in the Turtleback Mountain Preserve. The reward after a gradual 800 foot climb is a beautiful view to the west looking toward Victoria B.C.
- While you are near West Sound be sure to stop at Orcas Island Pottery. This beautiful gallery has been open since 1945 and their collection is astounding. They bring in visiting artists from around the country and their resident potter regularly adds to the collection.https://www.orcasislandpottery.com/
- Make a picnic lunch and drive down to one of the few public beaches on Orcas located on the southeast tip. Obstruction Pass State Park has a great walk in campground with beautiful views to the south and a pebble beach. Watch the seals and shore birds as you eat your lunch.
Where to eat on Orcas– The restaurants on Orcas feature local, organic foods prepared with great care and at very reasonable prices. Here are just a few of the places to eat on the island. Discovering new places to eat makes this island a food lovers paradise.
- Drive toward Olga and stop at Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. You select your own oysters stored in fresh seawater. Take some home to grill or buy a glass of their wine and use one of their oyster knives to have fresh oysters on the half shell. You could continue down to Obstruction Pass State Park and have your Oysters there.http://www.buckbayshellfishfarm.com/
- Stop at Island Hoppin Brewery and taste some locally made beer. We usually bring our own snacks to eat with the beer but they also have a small selection of food available. You will enjoy the small town atmosphere of this great little brewery.http://www.islandhoppinbrewery.com/
- Our van rental customers always return with rave reviews of Hogstone’s Wood Oven in East Sound. They are only open for dinner but their farm-to-table menu with specialty pizzas will give a nice break from camp food.http://www.hogstone.com/
- Another East Sound favorite is Roses Bakery Café. Be sure to make time to have a late breakfast or lunch here. Their café is attached to a gourmet shop and their wine selection ranges from local wines to a wide variety of European wines. Their food is all locally sourced and reasonably priced.http://www.rosesbakerycafe.com/
- If you are camping at Moran, the Doe Bay Resort and Retreat Center is nearby and has a great little restaurant and bar. Try their Grilled Asparagus with fried wild mushrooms and poached duck eggs all covered with Hollandaise Sauce.
A sign at one of the campgrounds says “Slow Down…..You are on Orcas now” That certainly sums up the island experience. The locals are friendly and always ready to make suggestions about where to camp, eat or hike. Take some time to “Slow Down” and spend a weekend or a week on Orcas. Let us know if we can help you with your vacation plans.
Bob and Maureen Jorgenson