In northwestern Washington lies the beautiful San Juan Islands, where you’ll find Orcas Island campgrounds. Some of the best whale-watching happens off the coast here. You can see the giant orcas year-round while also viewing humpback whales, gray whales, sea lions, and other wildlife. Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands. Let’s take a closer look at what camping options you have when you visit.
Table of contents
- Can You Take Your RV to the San Juan Islands?
- Which Is Better: Orcas Island or San Juan Island?
- Can You Camp on the Beach on Orcas Island?
- The 5 Best Campgrounds on Orcas Island
- Is There Dispersed Camping on Orcas Island?
Can You Take Your RV to the San Juan Islands?
The San Juan Islands don’t have a bridge, but you can board the ferry with your RV. Keep in mind that there may be limited space for vehicles over 22 feet in length. While the islands can accommodate larger RVs, camping options are very limited for rigs over 30 feet. Be sure to plan your stay before you go with a larger RV.
Which Is Better: Orcas Island or San Juan Island?
If you want a more developed area, then visit San Juan Island. But for a more remote, secluded, and dense woodland experience, take a trip to Orcas Island, where you can visit Moran State Park. It offers excellent hiking trails, beautiful scenery, and lots of wildlife.
Can You Camp on the Beach on Orcas Island?
You can’t pitch a tent on the beach. However, you can find some waterfront sites available at different Orcas Island campgrounds. You’ll only have access to primitive tent camping sites near the beach as they don’t have any RV options at the water’s edge.
The 5 Best Campgrounds on Orcas Island
If you’re heading out to Orcas Island with your RV, pay attention to which campgrounds offer RV campsites. Although the island has many beautiful locations, only a few campgrounds have room for RVs. Most areas are better suited for tent camping. Let’s look at five of the best Orcas Island campgrounds.
1. Moran State Park – North End & Midway
Address: 3572 Olga Road, Olga, WA 98279
About Moran State Park: You’ll find three camping areas around Cascade Lake in Moran State Park: the northern, central, and southern shores. The North End campground offers the largest sites; thus, it’s the most popular area for RV camping. Keep in mind there is limited availability for RV’s 30 feet and over.
The North End is near the day-use area, kids playground, dump station, picnic shelters, and several trailheads. If you bring a boat, stay at the Midway campground next to the boat ramp. It has tent sites on the shore and RV sites across the road.
Types of Camping Allowed: North End and Midway have glamping, RV, and primitive sites available. Make sure to call ahead to verify where RV camping is permitted.
Our Favorite Features: If you want an Orcas Island campground with miles of hiking, you’ll enjoy Moran State Park. Trails are open year-round for hikers and seasonally for bikers and equestrians. Because of the diverse terrain, hikers of all abilities can find an appropriate path. Hikers looking for an easy route may enjoy trails along the lake.
More advanced hikers and backpackers will appreciate the longer hikes up the slopes of Mount Constitution and Mount Pickett. Cascade Lake is a beautiful, family-friendly area for swimming, boating, paddle boarding, fishing, and kayaking. Plus, the Sugar Shack is open seasonally for snacks, drinks, and ice cream.
2. West Beach Resort
Address: 190 Waterfront Way, Eastsound, WA 98245
About West Beach Resort: If you want to rent a cabin on Orcas Island, West Beach Resort offers beautiful beachfront units with stunning views. This campground doesn’t have waterfront RV campsites, but it’s only a short walk to the beach. Since 1938, West Beach Resort has provided its guests with an authentic San Juan Islands experience.
Types of Camping Allowed: You can rent deluxe tent cabins. These are on-site glamping cabins perfect for guests who don’t want to bring their own camping gear. Tent camping sites have a picnic table and fire pit. RV camping is permitted but only includes 30 amp service and water hook-ups.
Our Favorite Features: West Beach Resort is a great location for boaters and fishermen with access to the marina and boat rentals. Guests can also visit the general store, rent kayaks and canoes, and enjoy beachfront food service. This private destination resort is a perfect place to enjoy the natural beauty of Orcas Island.
Pro Tip: Continue exploring Washington by staying at these 9 Best Parks for Camping on the Washington Coast.
3. Doe Bay
Address: 107 Doe Bay Road, Olga, WA 98279
About Doe Bay Resort: Doe Bay has walk-in, drive-in, forested, and waterfront sites for tent camping and small camper van access. Live music, kayaking, and whale watching are all part of the experience. You can also host retreats and group gatherings here.
Types of Camping Allowed: You only have access to tent camping or a camper van in a drive-in site, but no RVs are allowed. Group campsites are available.
Our Favorite Features: This Orcas Island campground has many amenities, including access to a bathhouse, fully stocked kitchen, community fire pit, and playground. The Doe Bay Cafe is also nearby for you to enjoy seed-to-table dining. They grow most of what they serve in their Doe Bay Organic Garden. The Doe Bay Spa offers spa rentals, massage services, and a waterfront yoga studio.
4. Obstruction Pass State Park
Address: 860 Trailhead Road, Ogla, WA 98279
About Obstruction Pass Park: Smaller than Moran State Park, you’ll feel like you’re visiting a more remote area of Orcas Island when coming to Obstruction Pass State Park. Enjoy pebble beaches and rocky cliffs at this 76-acre park.
Types Of Camping Allowed: The Obstruction Pass State Park is open to primitive tent camping. It has no potable water and only ten campsites available. All sites are first-come, first-served.
Our Favorite Features: Guests have access to fire pits, picnic tables, and composting toilets. Enjoy 1.8 miles of hiking trails or go crabbing along the mile-long saltwater shoreline. A 0.6-mile self-guided trail includes information about the land and history of Orcas Island.
Address: Glamping sites are in the middle of Moran State Park (3572 Olga Road, Olga, WA 98279)
About Leanto: Leanto offers a glamping experience in Moran State Park. Five canvas tents, cedar plank, and cast iron kettle glamping sites can accommodate two to four people. It has no water or electricity. It’s a great place to camp off-grid without pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere. You’ll enjoy all of the amenities of Moran State Park while glamping in style.
Types of Camping Allowed: Leanto only has glamping accommodations. No RVs or tent camping.
Our Favorite Features: No need to pack a tent or load up your RV when you visit this Orcas Island campground. Bring your essentials and enjoy the frills of a hotel stay on beautiful Orcas Island. They provide linens and furnishings, but you can choose some add-ons for your stay.
Add a propane campfire when wood and charcoal fires are prohibited, or rent a camp stove for quick and convenient cooking. You can add a campfire kit when a burn ban is not in effect. Other additions include a coffee concierge service, dish and flatware kit, hot beverage kit, and a s’mores kit.
Pro Tip: Unsure what camping style is right for you? Why not try out one of these 15 Types of Camping.
Is There Dispersed Camping on Orcas Island?
Orcas Island does not allow dispersed camping. The best areas for more primitive camping are Moran State Park, Doe Bay, and Obstruction Pass State Park. San Juan County does not allow any dispersed camping. You have to stay at one of the Orcas Island campgrounds.
Orcas Island offers serenity and beauty. They may not have lots of amenities and entertainment, but if you want a quiet, peaceful atmosphere to get away from the stress of life, plan a trip to one of these Orcas Island campgrounds. You have a chance to see beautiful killer whales off the coast throughout the year. And the greenery of the island makes it feel secluded from the rest of the world.
Are you heading to the Northwest soon? Which campground best fits your camping style? Drop a comment below!
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