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Free Camping in the San Juan Islands

    Before you pack up and get on your way, let's define what free means and where the San Juan Islands are located.  For some, free may mean no charge for camping but may fail to add in the cost of a new boat or kayak and tons of gear.  For others, anything less than the price of a five star hotel and plane ticket is a steal.

    The San Juans are arguably defined as part of an archipelago including but not limited to the islands of San Juan County Washington. Therefore, including nearby islands  with other zip codes seems appropriate when planning a camping trip to the San Juan's

    Washington State DNR land (department of natural resources) is not state park land it is DNR land and offers five amazing and free camping spots in the San Juan Island area.  All are first come and no reservations and only accessible by boat. All are pack it in and pack it out.  Facilities are maintained by local volunteers and clubs.

  1. Pelican Beach on Cypress Island
  2. Cypress Head  on Cypress Island
  3. Lummi Campground on Lummi Island
  4. Pt Doughty on Orcas Island
  5. Griffin Bay on San Juan Island
     Grifffin Bay:       
     Five campsites, each with tables, fire rings, one pit toilet. Bring your kayaks ashore or anchor off and come ashore by dinghy. One anchor buoy is provided. Enter this latitude and longitude into google search or your gps or your boats plotter to find the campsite 48.475944 N, 123.009857 W Another method would be to  cruise along the west shore of Griffin Bay ( San Juan Island side) looking for a beach landing  and buoy halfway between Fourth of July Beach and Low Point on your NOAA chart.

Free DNR campsite on Griffin Bay
Griffin Bay free camping

     Point Doughty:
     Three campsites, fire rings and a toilet are on this lonely and exposed point on the north side of Orcas Island. Use this lat. and long. to locate on a map or chart, 48°42'42.2 N, 122°56'58.3 W

     Lummi Island campground:
 is easy to find but here are the coordinates.  48.659223 N, 122.614348 W.

Beachfront free camping in the San Juan Islands

Kayak campground marine park San Juans

Free camping  in DNR campground in the San Juan's

Lummi Island Campground is reached from a small cove on the southeast side of Lummi Island 
just south of Smugglers Cove, Inati Bay,  and  Reil Harbor. 
Your best landmark clue will be the sign on the bluff.

     Cypress Head Campground:
This kayaker and boaters and hikers dream destination is on Cypress Island a short 5 mile paddle from Anacortes or Washington Park. Cypress head is the eastern most tip of Cypress Island jutting out into Bellingham Channel just north of Deepwater Bay. The gps coordinates are 48.568919 N, 122.670692 W

Free camping in the San Juans on Cypress Head
Cypress Head point creates a nice protected bay with anchor balls and a very dinghy and kayak friendly gravel beach. Trails connecting to the the rest of the island are across the narrow isthmus.

     Pelican Beach:
     This free waterfront campground on Cypress Island is very popular with kayakers, power boaters, sail boaters, everyone likes Pelican Beach.  It even has ADA compliant composting toilets. The shore is lined with about half a dozen campsites, each with tables and fire rings, directly offshore are anchor buoys. The easy trail up to the top of Eagle Bluff begins at the water edge. To find Pelican Beach simply follow the east side of Cypress Island north about one mile past the Eagle Harbor anchorage. If you run past the end of the island, turn around, you're a quarter mile too far. Here are the coordinates.  48.603400 N, 122.704134 W
Free San Juan Island camping at Pelican Beach

Free San Juan Island camping at Pelican Beach

Free San Juan Island camping at Pelican Beach

That's it for free camping in the San Juan Island area.  The Washington DNR has lots more free camping in other areas that are highway accessible.