San Juan Island was a base for soldiers during the Pig War of the mid-1800s.
The San Juan Islands, located in Washington state, may not be a tropical paradise, but it is paradise none-the-less with hidden coves, swashbuckling storybook island names (Skull Island and Iceberg Point Rocks) sandy beaches and trails to explore.
And it looks as though the San Juans are becoming a hot destination after having been declared a new national monument by President Obama -- along with four other great new American monuments. In fact, TripAdvisor has ranked the San Juan Islands as the #1 island in the US and fourth in the world.
These lands are just waiting to be explored. Here are our some top picks for exploring one of America’s national treasures:
#1 - Mt. Constitution, Orcas Island
Choose your own adventure! Go by car or by foot and take in a 360 degree view of the San Juans archipelago, including some of the islands and rocks designated as part of the national monument. Check out the view from a live webcam.
#2 - Chadwick Hill, Lopez Island
Hike up to the 470-foot summit of Chadwick Hill, Lopez Island’s second highest peak, for some amazing views over Rosario Strait, then beachcomb at one of Lopez’s popular beaches located on Watmough Bay.
Lopez Island, Watmough Bay, flickr, momo go
#3 - Iceberg Point, Lopez Island
Don’t let the name fool you – the short loop trail at Iceberg Point is anything but icy in the spring and summer. Walk through a canopy of salmonberry bushes, inspect gnarly trees and take in the cliffside views out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Make sure to stop by Holly B’s Bakery for their world famous cinnamon rolls.
Resources for Lopez Island
Iceberg Point, San Juan Islands, flickr, LeeLever
#4 - Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island
On the most southern point of San Juan Island, Cattle Point Lighthouse is accessed via a short walk along an interpretive trail. Take in views of the mainland and count eagles in nearby trees. Just north of the lighthouse is American Camp, home to soldiers during the Pig War – and yes, it really involved a pig.
Cattle Point Light House, San Juan Island, flickr, Travis S.