Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the Mountain Pacific Forts

Picture of American Camp

San Juan Island National Historic Park
P.O. Box 429
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
(360) 378-2902

For it was here in 1859 that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over a pig shot by an American farmer. Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that. Pressures had been building between the two nations over possession of the San Juan Island group since 1846 when the Treaty of Oregon left ownership unclear. Thus came the "Pig War" crisis, at the height of which more than 500 U.S. Army soldiers and three British warships were nose to nose on the island's southern shore, not 10 miles from Victoria, BC. Fortunately, officials on both sides quickly restored calm and the nations agreed to a joint military occupation of the island until the boundary could be decided. The American soldiers and British Royal Marines remained for 12 years until Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, as arbitrator, awarded the islands to the United States. Today the park is an excellent place to hike, picnic, play on the beach, experience wildlife and enjoy a wealth of programming, including the summer living history events.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Grounds at American and English camps are open from dawn to 11 p.m., throughout the year. Visitor Center hours are variable by season. Winter (September-May): American Camp, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Thursday-Sunday; Friday Harbor, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Summer (June-September): American Camp, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., daily; English Camp, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., daily; and Friday Harbor, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Getting There

To Friday Harbor via Northwest Seaplanes; Kenmore Air; or West Isle Air.


Washington State Ferries by private vehicle; car rental in Friday Harbor.


Bellair Seatac Airporter shuttle offers regularly scheduled service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to the Washington State Ferries terminal in Anacortes.

Public Transportation

Shuttle buses stop at both camps daily during the summer season with an abbreviated schedule during spring and fall. Contact San Juan Transit (360) 378-8887.

Getting Around

Ranger-guided and self-guided walking tours only.

Communities and Related Links
Friday Harbor
Puget Sound
Seattle Visitor Information

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