Mar 262013
Watmough Bay on Lopez Island

Watmough Bay on Lopez Island

On March 25, 2013, President Obama signed a proclamation establishing five new U.S. National Monuments. Among them is San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington. Residents and friends of the islands have long sought protection for these lands, with a number of community groups and business leaders joining in efforts over the years to gain the National Monument status.

Somewhat unique is that this National Monument is not one contiguous area, but a combination of several locations scattered about the San Juan Islands. Each of the areas has been under Bureau of Land Management control for quite some time, and some were designated as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern by the BLM. National Monument status gives these special places even greater protection, and assurance that they will be preserved, both as ecological habitat and for future generations to enjoy as recreation sites.

Three of the sites are on Lopez Island. Watmough Bay is a lovely little cove, long a favorite of kayakers, boaters and beach goers. It is reached by a short and easy trail down at the southeastern corner of the island. Nearby, a bit longer hike at the southeast tip of the island leads to Point Colville, and great views over Rosario Strait. 

Iceberg Point view

Iceberg Point view across the Salish Sea to the Cascade Mountains.

At Iceberg Point on the southwest tip of Lopez, a network of trails leads along the coastal bluffs with outstanding views across Rosario Strait and the Salish Sea to Whidbey Island and beyond to the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Mountains. Look south across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to more snow-capped mountains, on the Olympic Peninsula. The open, rocky slopes are great for viewing spring wildflowers, too.

Cattle Point Lighthouse

Cattle Point Lighthouse, pre-dawn.

Over on San Juan Island, the Cattle Point area at the south tip of the island is another part of San Juan Islands National Monument. Trails across extensive meadows lead to Cattle Point Lighthouse and down to beaches. The area is adjacent to the American Camp part of San Juan Islands National Park.

For more information about the efforts to preserve these lands, check this website:, which links to a map of the San Juan Islands National Monument lands. For general information about visiting the San Juan Islands, see