Experience Pristine Islands: Visit the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge

By | May 20, 2015
Photo Courtesy of topratedtravel.net

Photo Courtesy of topratedtravel.net

The San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge consists of 83 small islands that are scattered throughout the San Juan Archipelago. These 450 acres were designated as a wildlife refuge in order to protect colonies of nesting seabirds, but they also attract a variety of other wildlife, such as bald eagles and harbor seals. For the protection of the animals, most of these islands are off-limits to visitors, although for wildlife viewing purposes you can get as near as 200 feet from the shoreline in a boat. Only two islands included in the refuge allow limited public access: Matia and Turn islands.

Matia Island is located north of Orcas Island and east of Sucia Island. Of its 145 acres, only two, surrounding Rolfe Cove, are designated as a camping area. Because of its status as a wildlife refuge, pets, wood collecting, and campfires excepting those in camp stoves are all prohibited. The island features a pier, a moorage float, and two moorage buoys. Use is first come, first served. In addition to the 6 primitive campsites, the campground offers a composting toilet. No potable water is available. The wilderness trailhead is also located at the campground, which is a 1.2 mile loop through the interior of the island, which is otherwise closed to the public.

Turn Island is a 35-acre marine park located near the eastern shore of San Juan Island. There are three mooring buoys available for public use near the cove on the northwest harbor. Turn Island has 12 campsites. As with Matia, pets and fires are not permitted, although campers may bring camp stoves.

Both of these islands offer exceptional opportunities to view the San Juan Islands as they were before human development, and a stop at one or both of these parks would be a highlight of your charter.

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