Home Water Island Camping

Island Camping


It’s a great time of year to check out the islands. They aren’t crowded at all and on a warm April weekend they are as inviting as any time during the summer, as long as your heart isn’t set on swimming and sunbathing on the beach.

We drove onto the ferry in Anacortes on a Thursday evening and enjoyed the ride out to Orcas Island. With no idea where to go from the ferry terminal, we followed the line of traffic until it dissipated, then kept going. We drove through Moran State Park, passing gated campsites and tempting side roads.

After rounding a few bends and approaching the southeast terminus of the island, we saw signs for Obstruction Pass State Park. The long dirt road looked promising and we pulled in as the last rays of the day faded.

The parking lot was empty. A map at the trailhead showed camping sites along the waterside. We put $12 in the fee envelope, packed up our stuff and set out on a mile-long headlamp trek.

When we reached the water, we couldn’t really see where we were. We pitched our tent on some flat ground that seemed like a designated campsite near the edge of a seaside cliff. Light rain and soft waves lulled us to sleep. In the morning, we were stunned to see our surroundings: red-barked madrona trees, lodgepole pines and a tranquil bay opening  onto the straight between Orcas and Lopez islands.



After we packed up our stuff, making sure not to leave a trace, we walked out on a different trail than the one we took in. Interpretive signs explaining the geology and ecology of the place were subtle and informative enough not to be intrusive. The place was so lush – everything was a vibrant hue of green.

Orcas path
We left the park in search of breakfast, and we didn’t have to go far. At a corner in the road we found a long wooden building that looked unassuming and interesting at the same time. A sign said Olga’s Cafe, and even though there were no cars in the driveway we decided to take a chance, mostly out of curiosity.

Inside, the building had exposed beams and art covering every inch of wall space. Turns out Olga’s is an art gallery too. Our waitress was super kind and soft spoken, and the food was an unreal blend of flavors and colors. Really, unexpectedly tasty. I got baked eggs with salmon, tomato, capers, onions and dill sauce, and a scallion biscuit with a side of home fries and fruit.

After breakfast we perused the glass, woodwork, paintings and sculptures in the art gallery. Most of it came from the surrounding communities. There were some beautiful pieces, including a small desk with intricate woodwork.

On our way out we saw some goats: Orcas Goats

…and then we had to be on our way. We were the last car onto the ferry to Lopez, where we switched to another ferry to Anacortes. It was a blitz of an island trip – the first of many.

–Ian & Kat