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Waldron Island is in San Juan Islands of Washington State.

the sun setting over Waldron Island and the Canadian Gulf Islands in the distance


Waldron Island is off the beaten path, even by San Juan Island standards. Although the dock and roads are public islanders do not generally greet tourists with open arms and there are no facilities on the island.


In 1941 Waldron resident June Burn featured Waldron prominently in her autobiography Living High and described her family's experience building a log cabin on the island. Her daughter-in-law, Doris Burn, also wrote several books while living on the island. The last store on Waldron closed in 1942 and no regular ferry service has been offered to the island. Since 1976, Waldron has been a 'limited development district'. No large-scale mining of natural resources is allowed. No marinas or breakwaters can be built. No large homes or paved roads or public utilities, residents declared in the early 1990s with a lopsided vote (82 percent)


During a Spanish expedition in 1791, Francisco Eliza named the Island "Lemos." However the current name of the island was set in May 1841 when Wilkes Expedition officer Lieutenant Case of the Vincennes and his party "made a careful survey of Puget Sound from Vashon Island southward". During this survey, one of the San Juan islands was named after one or other of a pair of Waldron brothers, Richard Russell Waldron or Thomas Westbrook Waldron.

In the nineteenth century Waldron Island sandstone was mined for use in various buildings. Coal deposits were also discovered on Waldron Island. Homesteaders settled the island in the nineteenth century.

Get in[edit]

Waldron Island is accessible only by boat or airplane, there is no ferry service to the island and only one county dock.

Get around[edit]

The county roads that cross the island are unimproved dirt roads and since there are so few cars they serve more as foot or bike trails through the thick forests.


480 acres of the island are owned by the Nature Conservancy and day use is allowed.



What Puget Sound beaches lack in white sand and warm water is more than made up for in the amazing scenery as the clear waters play against wild coastlines and snow peaked mountains scatter on the horizons. Waldron Island's nature preserve is an excellent place to start a beach combing adventure offering 1000's of feet of public shoreline which is mostly rocky offering and offering excellent tide pools. Small crabs, moon snails, sea stars and sand dollars are common sites and tide pools can offer hours of exploration.

Be warned that sea shells and driftwood are considered part of the natural environment and should not be removed, however the often rocky and wild shores are havens for creating and revealing beach glass and anything artificial found is fair game for removal. Be respectful of private property and gentle with sea creatures. Keep a wide distance away from nesting birds, seals and other shore animals and always put back anything removed from the shoreline.


Bald Eagle are common site in the San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are in the Pacific coast flyaway which extends from Alaska to South America and almost 300 species of birds have been observed on the islands. The islands offer an extensive variety of environments from rocky sea shores to lush wetlands offering a large number of habitats for birds in a relatively compact area including the nature reserve on Waldron Island. The San Juan Audubon Society holds regular meetings, bird counts and postings of bird activity on their website [dead link]. Bald Eagles, Great Blue Heron, Kingfishers and Cormorants are all common sites on the islands but rare birds are sometimes seen migrating through the area.


Sport crab fishing is popular in the area with most fishermen looking for the elusive and meaty Dungeness crab, but other less popular crabs are plentiful in the area. Crab season starts with a two-day opener July 1st and 2nd and follows up with crabbing every Thursday through Monday through Labor Day weekend. A wide array of crab traps are available from a variety of area sporting goods stores and the red and white buoys marking the traps are a common site on the water during the short crabbing season. Fishing permits are required and can be purchased from a variety of local stores, more information is available from the Washington Dept of Fishing and wildlife

Sea kayaking[edit]

Sea kayaking can be a rewarding way to explore the San Juan Islands miles of coastline allowing the paddler a closer and slower look at their surroundings and excellent opportunities to view wildlife, making the San Juan Islands one of the most popular areas to kayak in Puget Sound. Thick forests of majestic pine and deciduous trees and hundreds of creeks and estuaries dot the coastline. Harbor Seals, Otters, Sea Lions, Bald Eagles and Blue Herons are common sites while the occasional viewing of an Orca or Grey Whale is not out of the question.

Kayak trails[edit]

Organized trails offer overnight camping options and maps of appropriate lengths and scenic travel destinations. Waldron Island is not on the trail however it does pass nearby.

  • Cascadia Marine Trail. This inland sea trail is a National Recreation Trail and designated one of only 16 National Millennium Trails by the White House. Suitable for day or multi-day trips, the Cascadia Marine Trail has over 50 campsites to visit including many in the San Juan Islands. People can boat to the campsites from many public and private launch sites or shoreline trailheads.






Go next[edit]

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