Moran State Park has a bit of everything an outdoorsman is looking for in a 5,424-acre park located in the jaw-dropping San Juan Islands. Most travelers are drawn to the San Juan’s to be close to the water. However, Orcas Island will pull you into the forest.
Originally opened in 1921 when former Seattle Mayor Robert Moran originally donated 2,700 acres to create a state park, what we see today is really a bi-product of the Great Depression. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) contributed several features including building structures from locally gathered materials. One of the most prominent is the lookout tower on the summit of Mt. Constitution where you can see both the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges.
Be sure to bring your hiking boots to explore more than 38 miles of beautiful trails, five freshwater lakes, waterfalls, and the tallest mountain in the San Juan Islands.
RV Rentals in Moran State Park
Transportation in Moran State Park
Getting to Orcas Island can be a bit of a journey, and patience is highly recommended during peak season. Taking a vehicle to the island will require the use of a ferry leaving from Anacortes which is about an hour and a half north of Seattle.
Not all of the ferries leaving this location go to Orcas Island, however, so be sure to check the Washington State Ferries site for the most up to date schedules and rates. You should plan to arrive at the terminal several hours early during peak season to ensure you get a spot.
The ride takes about an hour once you depart. Leaving the terminal, follow Orcas Road to Main Street. Turn right and drive through town until you reach Olga Road where you take another right. Continue on Olga Road directly into Moran State Park. Take care to avoid cyclists as there are no dedicated bike lanes in the park.
Access roads in the park can be steep and narrow, so larger RVs may struggle to navigate some of the tighter turns and switchbacks.
Campgrounds and parking in Moran State Park
Campsites in Moran State Park
The Northend Campground is a bit larger with 50 campsites. This campground offers more RV sites than others including some that will allow you to pull through. Access to this area is by steep and narrow service roads. Sites may also require a significant amount of work to level out your RV. Each site will include a fire pit, picnic table, and a gravel pad. A bathroom and shower facility are also available. This campground is located closest to the dump station near the west entrance of the park. Water and electric hookups are not available in any of the campsites in Moran State Park. Generators may only be used between 8 am and 9 pm. You can stay for up to 10 days in a Washington state park between April and September, however the duration changes to 20 days in the off-season.
The Midway Campground also offers 50 campsites which cater to both tent campers and RV’s. There are two bathroom and shower facilities in addition to a boat launch. A launch permit must be purchased in order to use the boat launch. Sites will include fire pits, picnic table, and a gravel pad. As with the other campgrounds here, there are no electric and water hookups so plan accordingly.
The Southend campground has 11 campsites and a handicap accessible restroom with shower facility. Each site offers a firepit, picnic table, and a gravel pad. There are no electric or water hookups within the campsites. It would be best to arrive with enough fresh water for your stay. Pets are allowed in Washington state parks and campgrounds as long as they are on a leash, however, there may be some areas that are off-limits to our four-legged friends. Be sure to follow the pet specific rules for your area.
Seasonal activities in Moran State Park
With 38 miles of hiking trails, there are options for every level of effort and experience. An easy family-friendly stroll along the Cascade Falls Trail will take you to the largest waterfall in the San Juan Islands. You will want to be sure to bring plenty of water if you choose to tackle the 2000-foot elevation gain on the Cold Springs Trail. Follow the steep climb of the Mount Constitution Loop Trail towards the summit for a mix of dense forest and sweeping vistas.
This park may not have direct access to the surrounding salt water, however, it has plenty of freshwater to enjoy. A license is required to cast your line into one of the five lakes available for fishing. Cascade Lake and Mountain Lake are stocked each year with cutthroat, rainbow, and kokanee trout by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Twin Lakes are more secluded for those looking for a more backcountry experience.
Whether you want to explore islands or spend the day fishing, a day on the water on Orcas Island can’t be beaten. Pedal boats, stand up paddleboards, kayaks, rowboats, and canoes are available for rent at both Cascade Lake and Mountain Lake. Moran State Park also has two boat launches for your personal non-motorized watercraft. For those who bring their own boat, you will need to purchase a launching permit to use the boat ramps.
There are 11 miles of bike trails within the park that can be used year around. A total of 25 miles of trails are open between mid- September and mid-May ranging from beginner to expert. Planning your mountain biking adventure maybe best during the winter months when you would have access to all 19 trails within the park. Those with enough experience would certainly enjoy the 1,900-foot descent along the Power Line Trail from the top of Mount Constitution.
Although this park doesn’t have facilities to support equestrian camping, there are six miles of horseback riding trails. Enjoy some the beautiful hiking opportunities in Moran State Park without having to do the walking yourself. Trail rides are available from local guides who can help ensure you enjoy the best the park has to offer.
Orcas Island offers some of the most breathtaking views in the San Juan Islands. Plenty of dense old growth forest, rushing water, and waterfalls make this park an outdoor photographers dream. The lookout tower at the summit of Mount Constitution offers amazing views of both the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Capture the light as it falls on Mount Baker for the perfect photo to remember your trip to this truly beautiful island. If you're lucky, you might even see some of the resident orca, or killer whales, that give the island its name.