When you dock at Jones Island, your welcoming committee wagon may include otters and deer.
Among the most enchanting of the San Juan Islands, Jones Island Marine State Park is the place to let your heart and feet wander. Your wheels can wander too, as the paved trail through the park’s interior meets ADA standards.
Stroll down that trail, through a forest of moss-covered nurse logs and trees, to a lawn with a small apple and pear orchard. Rest there, grill up a picnic in the shelter and take a short stroll to an untamed beach. Deer may approach in search of a fruit handout. Please don’t be swayed by their big brown eyes. Feeding wildlife does not benefit them and is discouraged.
Enjoy a hike on the island’s perimeter. Check out cliff-side campsites (first come, first served) and picnic tables with million-dollar views of Spieden Island. Pitch a tent and settle in, or keep exploring. Look for elusive cacti, or check out a book from the informal “Jones Island Public Library,” that's located in one of the restrooms.
Whether you stay for one day or three, you’ll be enthralled by the park’s diversity. You will leave Jones Island with the recognition that you just had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you’ll long to return.
Accessible only by boat, Jones Island Marine State park is a 188-acre marine camping park with 25,000 feet of saltwater shoreline on the San Juan channel. The park provides mooring buoys on two coves, an ADA dock and trail, a Cascadia Marine Trail campsite and 24 primitive campsites.
Drinking water is available May through September. There is no garbage service to the park. Visitors must pack out what they pack in.
Visitors often feed the deer resulting in their becoming dependent on handouts of unnatural foods and potentially dangerous interactions between wild animals and humans. Feeding wildlife is prohibited by law in state parks. Violators may be fined and evicted.
Located in San Juan County on Puget Sound, Jones Island provides seven mooring buoys and 128 linear feet of dock moorage at the North Cove. The removal of the moorage dock at North Cove begins in October and installation begins at the end of March. All floats will be installed no later than May 1. Mooring buoys remain in place year-round.
Anchorage is good at both the North and South Coves, but boaters are exposed to continuous boat wakes due to heave boat traffic during summer months. There are no good anchorage sites on the east or west side of the island.
During periods of high atmospheric pressure, strong northerly winds may develop causing rough water conditions at the North Cove moorage area. During low atmospheric conditions, the South Cove may be subjected to strong southerly wind.
There is a marked reef at the northeast entrance to North Cove and several unmarked, but charted rocks along the southeastern shore. Mariners should consult their charts in these areas.
Moorage fees are charge year round from 1 p.m. to 8 a.m. All boaters must register upon arrival. Boats rafted to another boat, on a park facility, must also pay the appropriate fee.
Latitude: 48º 37' 4.99" N (48.6180) Longitude: 123º 2' 47.76" W (-123.0466)
The park has 24 primitive campsites which are on a first come first serve basis. Two of the sites are part of the Cascadia Marine Trail and strictly reserved for those arriving by human- or wind-powered watercraft. Drinking water is available May through September. The park has six composting toilets. There is no garbage service to the park. Visitors must pack-out what they pack-in.
The group camping area at the South Orchard area may be reserved by calling (360) 378-2044.
Jones Island was named by Commander Charles Wilkes, an American explorer and naval officer, during the United States Exploring Expedition in 1841. It was named for U.S. Navy Captain Jacob Jones, the master commandant of the sloop-of-war Wasp, which captured the British brig Frolic in 1812.
The first Euro-American settler on the island was named either Robert Kittles Sr. or Allen C. Kittles (accounts vary). Kittles established a homestead on the island with his wife Nellie, a native Lummi woman. Their son, Robert, was born on the island in 1866 and lived there until his death in 1897. Remnants of the family’s fruit orchard can still be seen on the island along with the foundations of their home and outbuildings.
Jones Island was later used as a fox farm before being set aside by the federal government as a lighthouse reservation. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission began managing the island as a state park under a lease from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1959. State Parks acquired the island from the Bureau of Land Management in 1982.