Located on the southeast corner of San Juan Island , American Camp sits on a windswept grassy peninsula six miles from Friday Harbor. This is a wonderful place on a sunny summer afternoon, with both the Cascades and Olympics in view. It’s also a satisfyingly lonely place to explore on a rainy winter day.
Two buildings remain at American Camp—an officers’ quarters and a laundresses’ quarters—along with a defensive fortification (redoubt) constructed by Henry M. Roberts of Roberts’ Rules of Order fame. A long white picket fence circles the grounds, and a trail leads downhill past the old Hudson’s Bay Company Farm site on Grandma’s Cove.
Other nature trails take off to Mt. Finlayson (hardly a mountain at just 290 feet) and through the forests along Jackle’s Lagoon, or you can explore driftwood-jammed South Beach, a wonderful place for a sunset walk on the sandy shores. This is the longest public beach on the island.
The park is also home to thousands of rabbits whose ancestors were brought to the islands as a food source, but the inevitable happened and they keep multiplying. Birders come to American Camp to see the only nesting Eurasian skylarks in the United States; they were introduced to Vancouver Island early in the 1900s and a small number ended up here.
The American Camp Visitor Center is open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily in the summer, and 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Thurs.–Sun. in winter. It houses historical exhibits.
At the tip of the peninsula is Cattle Point Interpretive Area, where you'll find a picnic shelter in an old powerhouse, and trails to a nearby lighthouse and beach.