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Resting within the borders of Orcas Island, Moran State Park encompasses an area of over 5,000 acres. The diverse terrain consisting of lakes, wetlands, marshlands, woods, and hills, as well as the sheer size of the park, make this place a true jewel of the San Juan Islands. Islanders and visitors from across the state and beyond flock here to boat, fish, ride horses, and take photos atop Mt. Constitution.
The park is named after shipbuilder Robert Moran, who was also a founder of Moran Brothers Company. Moran also built the mansion that's known as Rosario, a large estate which is a separate attraction and a landmark that all guests should visit.
As camping at Moran State Park is one of the best ways of experiencing all this island has to offer, tourists visiting the area often opt to rent an RV. Search for an RV in San Juan County or any of neighboring islands, like Lopez Island, Shaw Island or Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
State park RV camping is all about relaxing and venturing out into nature. Explore the rustic appeal of the park and hike over 30 miles of well-maintained pathways leading to some of the park's centerpiece attractions. The treks vary from the easy and scenic, like Cascade Falls and Cascade Lake Loop, to the steeper and daunting, designed to test the most steadfast climbers, like Mount Constitution loop.
Cascade Lake is probably the most family-friendly place at Moran State Park. You'll easily find an ideal spot for a picnic, or a place to unwind, take a nap, read a book, and sunbathe. You can also grab a quick bite or refreshments here at the Sugar Shack, located near the swim area. Additionally, the lake is popular as a fishing location, or for those who enjoy row boating or paddling.
Finally, to fully experience Moran State Park, make an effort to get to the top of Mount Constitution. It's the best spot to enjoy the pristine beauty of Orcas Island and catch a glimpse of some of the park's animals. You're likely to spot blacktail deer, river otters, raccoons, or mink during your journey across the exposed fields dotted with lilies, asters, and stonecrop. Once you get to the top, pay attention to the marine areas, as you're likely to spot birds of prey like bald eagles, kingfishers, or great blue herons in action.
There multiple campgrounds for RV camping at Moran State Park, including Northend, Southend, and Midway. All 124 campsites are located near Cascade Lake. The campsites have no hookups, so bring your generator and fresh water to last throughout the stay. Each of the campsites has access to restrooms and showers, but the Northend campground is the most conveniently located in respect to a dump station.
The campsites are pet-friendly, but make sure you consult the park’s authorities for the areas that are off-limits to your furry friends. The maximum RV or trailer length that can be accommodated is 45 feet, so larger vehicles aren't compatible for motorhome camping here. The campsites also boast a number of amenities such as a fire pit, gravel pad, and a picnic table. The only campground that is ADA accessible is Southend.
Your Moran State Park camping adventure provides an amazing opportunity to explore the San Juan Islands and see what they have to offer. One of the most popular activities here is whale-watching, and there are multiple tours throughout the season. Bear in mind that if the tour starts off from a different island, you'll have to catch a ferry ride in order to get there. You may want to download a ferry schedule while you're here. When it comes to whales, you can expect to see — you guessed it — orcas. However, during the tour, you might also see humpbacks and grey whales.
Since you're already on Orcas Island, you can drop by the Orcas Museum and learn more about the history of this place. Fun events like Spooky Stories are held here during summer, so if the opportunity presents itself, you can find out more about some of the area's chilling and dreadful urban legends. In general, the museum features exhibits that tell the tale of European-American settlers. Expect to see artifact collections, tools, utensils, ancient remains of bison, and much more.
Catch a ferry to San Juan Island and visit Friday Harbour. Here, you'll find a wide variety of different stores, restaurants, fast food places, bakeries, and gas stations should you need to fill up your tank. Additionally, you should visit the Whale Museum while you're here. The museum strives to preserve the majestic marine life and has an amazing gift shop with lots of orca-themed toys, items, and souvenirs. To truly understand the beauty of these aquatic mammals, visit the Gallery of Whales, which features fascinating art and artifacts along with exhibits of whale skeletons. Alternatively, if you need a more convenient place to shop, dine, or fill up your tank, try Eastsound on Orcas Island.