Lime Kiln State Park

Lime Kiln State Park is set on the west side of San Juan Island, a gem in the archipelago north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and off the northern coast of Washington State. National Geographic named it the third best summer destination on the planet; just one of the reasons for that is this magnificent 36-acre day-use park!

Lime Kiln State Park

Lime Kiln Point is internationally renowned as one of the best places in which to view whales in the world. The park features a diverse environment including wooded uplands and a rocky shoreline. Minke whales, orcas, sea lions, otters, seals and porpoises all cruise the shoreline with bald eagles frequently spotted soaring through the skies and perched on tree branches.

What you need to know about visiting

Getting to the island is part of the fun. The scenic adventure begins by taking the ferry from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal, which brings passengers on a journey through sparkling waters weaving through small forest islands until reaching the town of Friday Harbor.

Friday Harbor

Lime Kiln State Park is located 9 miles from downtown Friday Harbor on the island's west side where you'll find spectacular views and trails that are lined with pacific madrone trees and picnic tables near the water's edge. The park is open from 8 a.m. until dusk every day of the year and requires a Discover Pass available for $10 for the day or $30 per year.

What to do at Lime Kiln State Park

Take a walk down the short paved path to Lime Kiln Lighthouse, first lit in 1919 and the last major light established in the state. It still serves as a navigational beacon for ships in the Haro Strait, with the light blinking about every ten seconds.

In 1978 the lighthouse was declared a Historic Site by the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and placed on the Washington Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places. In 1985, the lighthouse and surrounding waters were dedicated as a whale sanctuary and research station for marine mammal scientists.

Marine mammal scientists based in the lighthouse track the movements and the behavior of orca whales. While you're there watching for whales, there is a good chance that one of them will be watching along with you and they are often happy to help you spot them and perhaps provide some educational information too. On a clear day here you'll be rewarded with dramatic views of the Olympic Mountain range as well as the shores of Vancouver Island; frequently the weather is rather misty but if you sit and listen you might just hear the song of a whale.

San Juan Island Whale Watching

The lighthouse also posts a board with information as to when the last whales passed by. Information is available on the orcas, seals and porpoise in the area to help you distinguish which is which.

Lime Kiln Point State Park is surrounded by 200 acres of county land and includes a variety of short walking trails ranging from easy to fairly moderate. There are a number of whale watching boats as well as guided kayak trips that operate from the park, offering an excellence chance at a more close up look at some of these magnificent creatures.

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