San Juan Islands
- Distance: 30 miles
- Routes: Washington State Ferry
- Estimated Driving Time: 1-2 days
The San Juan Islands include 172 habitable islands and several hundred tide-washed rocks clustered in the northern waters of Puget Sound and the southern extremity of Georgia Strait. The International Boundary Line, zigzagging through a maze of waterways, leaves a hundred or more islands to Canada; all are a part of the same submerged mountain chain that rises above sea level to a maximum of 2,454 feet in Mount Constitution.
Along the jagged shores of the islands, sinewy red-trunked madronas and wind-stunted green conifers stand above tawny rocks, white sand, and gravelly beaches. The woods present a leafy tangle, brightened in summer with gleaming white dogwood and rose-red flowering currant, each shaded sanctuary adorned with delicate green ferns, honeysuckle, trilliums, and other wild flowers. The breeze-swept adjacent waters contain an extraordinary variety of marine life; no less plentiful is the island fauna.
While the names of some of the islands embody the long record of successive explorations, from the Spaniards in 1790–2 and the English in 1792, to the American Wilkes and others of the 1840s, physical peculiarities are responsible for many homespun names such as Peapod, Goose, Dot, Ripple, Flattop, Saddle Bag, and Hat Islands.