American Camp, San Juan Island National Historical Park
At the south end of the island lie the prairie and forest of American Camp, home to U.S. soldiers during the U.S./British occupation in the mid-1800s.
As of September 2019, the 42-year-old visitor center closed in preparation for the construction of a new, permanent facility on the site. A new, lasting facility will be built to greet visitors with state of the art exhibits, books, and guides to island history and wildlife. Ranger-led nature and history walks take place on weekends from June through August. Here you’ll find some historic points of interest, including an earthen fortress/lookout called the Redoubt, a small artifact museum, and historic buildings.
Several miles of trails take you through grassy prairies scattered with rocky outcrops, and down to South Beach, the longest public beach in the islands, with views over the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains. Other trails lead up 285-foot Mount Finlayson with views of Cattle Point Lighthouse, and down to Jakle’s Lagoon and 4th of July Beach.
A seasonal residence of more than 200 species of migratory birds, American Camp is home to a nesting pair of bald eagles, an abundance of red foxes, orcas and other marine mammals that are frequent visitors to the waters off South Beach. The park is located about a 15-minute drive south of Friday Harbor.