Lime Kiln Point State Park

Lime Kiln Point State Park boasts 36 acres along the western coast of San Juan Island. It is considered one of the best places in the world for whale watching from the shore. During the peak orca season from May through September, it is not unusual for whales to breach within 20 or 50 feet of where you are standing. Also common are seals, sea otters, and dolphins. This is a day-use park, closing at dusk, so the nearest Lime Kiln Point camping will be found at San Juan County Park.

The County Park is located in Smallpox Bay about two miles north of Lime Key, and is a popular put-in point for kayaking excursions. Most of the kayaking excursions will come along the shore where the Lime Kiln Point State Park Lighthouse is located. The lighthouse was built in 1919, and is still operational. Whether you are enjoying Lime Kiln Point hiking or have arrived in a car, you can enjoy the wonderful views along the coast throughout the year and join lighthouse tours during the summer months.

Those visitors interested in Lime Kiln Point hiking can take advantage of about two miles of trails within the park. About one-fifth of a mile of those trails are ADA accessible. Another 200 acres of county land surround the park, and they are open to the public. Therefore, you can enjoy Lime Kiln Point hiking in a much larger area than the park itself. Public access takes you down to the water where beachcombing and bird watching are popular activities. Common along the water are American bald eagles, ospreys, owls, ducks, and gulls. In the forested areas, you can view woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and many other forest birds. Wildlife includes deer, elk, fox, otters, and raccoons. This is a favorite fishing spot for many operators, with cod and salmon the most sought after species. There is good scuba diving here, but it is strictly for experienced divers due to strong currents. There are picnic sites scattered along the shore near the lighthouse that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The naming of Lime Kiln Point State Park refers to its history as a lime production area. This is the product that created the nearby "company town" of Roche Harbor when the richest deposit of limestone in the Pacific Northwest was discovered here in the 1860s. The cliffs in this area were quarried for limestone and kilns were built to fire it, thereby producing lime. One of these historic kilns had been restored and you can book interpretive tours to learn more about this period in the San Juan Islands.

In addition to camping, other accommodation in the area includes a few bed and breakfasts and a number of vacation rentals. Typical are the charming cabins available at the Mar Vista Resort in False Bay, about six miles to the south. The cabins have one, two, and three bedrooms as well as fully equipped kitchen and kitchenettes. You have even more choices in Friday Harbor, located on the opposite coast of the island. The town is only about five miles away, so you still have easy access to Lime Kiln Point. In between, you will find some working farms operated as bed and breakfast inns. Here you can stay in charming accommodations, help feed the chickens, and still visit the beautiful coast within a few minutes time.

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