There are all sorts of marine parks in Washington State’s San Juan Islands. Some are whole tiny islands, others are parks on larger islands with marine access. Some have docks, others are just accessible by kayaks or other small boats. There are lots of state parks in the San Juans, but Odlin Park on Lopez Island is a San Juan County Park.
We found Odlin County Park by chance. After fueling our boat in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island we googled for a nearby marine state park with a dock and found Odlin County Park instead. This park has a day-use dock as well as mooring buoys for overnight stays and a primitive launching ramp. We had packed a picnic before leaving our cabin on Decatur Island, and found a picnic area near the dock. Lucky for us there was nobody else there. The picnic area had a couple tables so we made use of one of them. My husband John, grandson Justin, and dog Piper were all there. John’s sister Vicki stayed back at her cabin on Decatur Island because the wildfire smoke enveloping the area bothered her lungs any time she went outside in spite of wearing two masks.
We could see some tents grouped up at the far end of the beach. According to their website, the park has 31 campsites of which 10 are on the beach – handy for those who come by kayak. There are vault toilets and potable water, but no showers for the people camping there.
Next to the table was a cute sign with a cow and a sheep informing people of Covid-19 mask requirements for San Juan County. We all had masks with us, but did not come near enough to any strangers at this park to actually need them – though we had all needed them in Friday Harbor where having one on is required for getting fuel at the dock as well as for visiting any of the shops in town. I took a walk up to a store there and everybody had a mask on, except the many dogs which nearly everyone on the street seemed to have one of.
Just up the hill from the picnic area we found a couple of the vault toilets next to a cannon with a sign saying it was a war memorial for people from Lopez Island who fought in World War 2. One of them died in an ammunitions facility fire in Japan shortly after the war ended and the other it said was abandoned at sea with no other information to what must be an interesting story. There were also garbage and recycling bins next to the bathroom. Although there were just 2 stalls each entered individually from the outside for only one person at a time they were marked one for males and the other for females. Probably because of Covid 19, there was a hand sanitizer dispenser hanging outside as well as one in each stall with instructions to use it before and after as there were no sinks or water in those restrooms.
Near to the bathroom was an office with nobody in attendance and instructions on where to leave payment for campsites or moorage. Firewood could be purchased there too, but we were there during a time when the entire west coast was shrouded in smoke from distant wildfires and the whole area was under a burn ban. Their sign said no charcoal fires either so people camping there were limited to camp stoves or other fueled appliances for their cooking. No campfires or BBQ’s with briquettes. So no fire roasted hot dogs or s’mores, the two most traditional camping foods in existence (at least in this area.) Nearby a very primitive phone booth sat on the roadside – no coin collection, just a phone in a wooden box.
We walked on up the hill and found the road entrance to the park. It’s just a mile from the ferry dock so probably gets a lot of visitors from there. Along the way we saw a trail going into the woods so we took a hike down the trail. A ways in I remembered that I had my garmin watch on, but it never managed to find our location until we were nearly back to the boat dock so I didn’t know how far we went. The map says it is a half mile trail and we went to where it comes out on the road so we must have gone a mile there and back.
Along the trail we saw some big trees that looked like they had burned at some point. None of the smaller trees appeared burned so the fire must have been quite a long time ago. Piper found a large fallen tree quite fascinating. It must have fallen across the trail as it was cut in pieces next to the trail.
We had not seen anyone until we got back to the picnic area where someone had parked in front of the gate to the road out to the boat dock. We put our masks on to walk past them, which was the only time they were needed at that park since we did not see any other people while we were there.
There were 4 otters swimming around between the dock and shore and as we got back to the dock they were right next to it. Of course as soon as I got my camera out they dived under the water and must have swam away because they never resurfaced.