Island camping by kayak

A state parks adventure in Washington’s San Juan Islands

Angela Tomaselle and adventure companions pose for a photo at Jones Island State Park.

The joy of kayaking in calm waters.

A Great Blue Heron balances on floating kelp in the San Juan Islands.

A purple sea star and other shoreline wonders at low tide.

World traveler Angela Tomaselle’s camp at Jones Island State Park.

Alcove by Angela Tomaselle

A peaceful alcove beckons at Jones Island State Park.

Imagine clear blue skies, salty sea­ air in your face, and breathtaking views of Puget Sound via an early autumn kayaking adventure trip up to peaceful and remote San Juan Islands state parks. Angela Tomaselle, a Las Vegas resident and world traveler, shared photos, tips and stories from a recent kayak and camping trip to Jones Island and Stuart Island state parks in mid September of this year.

“This was by far the best camping trip I’ve experienced,” said Angela upon returning from a four-day trip to Jones Island and Stuart Island state parks. “I’m always looking for new places to explore. That’s the number one reason I had been interested in doing this trip. I had planned an itinerary to see as much as I could of the PNW in one trip.” Both state parks, located in the north San Juan Islands, are a part of the Cascade Marine Trail on Puget Sound that includes 66 campsites and 160 day­-use sites designated for non­-motorized, beachable boats.

“We launched out of Friday Harbor, stopped for lunch at Shaw Island, then continued on to Jones Island and camped there for two nights. From there we kayaked up to Stuart Island and camped there one night, on our way, we stopped at Johns Island for lunch.” Angela was traveling with two of her friends from work.

Angela found this trip offered through a guide company called The Clymb that coordinated with a local kayak adventure company called Outdoor Odysseys that ultimately lead the trip. “They provided all the gear needed for this trip, tent, sleeping pad/sleeping bag, food, drinks and wine!” recounted Angela, “I am an avid hiker/camper and had been kayaking before, but never sea kayaking, nor kayak/camping, and the possibility of seeing Orcas while doing all of the above really sparked my interest. I can’t say enough about the company. Tom, our guide and the owner was so personable and knowledgeable about the islands, habitat, kayaking, he made the trip so amazing. And he’s an excellent cook! I’ve never eaten so good while camping.”

“Highlights of my trip… Gosh, it’s really hard to pinpoint. I loved being in the ocean kayaking. It was so different from the kayaking I have done. The scenery was amazing, I saw numerous bald eagles, a sea lion, osprey, blue herrings, seals and tons and tons of gorgeous trees.”

Jones Island State Park is an 188 acre marine camping park located on the saltwater shoreline of San Juan channel in north Puget Sound. Park activities include camping, boating and four miles of hiking trails. Stuart Island State Park is an 85 acre marine camping park along the Cascadia Marine Trail popular for boating, camping, crabbing and diving.

“Waking up to a waterfront scenery was pretty amazing as well. I do hope to get back and explore more of the islands sometime. Both parks we camped at were beautiful.” As a visitor to Washington State, Angela was impressed with the beauty and quality of Washington’s state parks, “I hope the state parks are enjoyed by lots of people, but I also hope people practice the leave no trace ethic. We don’t want our state parks ruined.”

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