Turning into Active Cove between Patos and Little Patos islands, you'll feel like you're landing on the moon. A pebble beach leads to a bare, gray, rocky outcropping. Once you have beached your craft or dinghy, walk to the top of the butte and savor the out-of-this-world views.
The landscape shifts as you wander up, into a colorful forest of Pacific madrone trees and follow the half-mile path to a lonely lighthouse run by the U.S. Coast Guard. The dramatic rock formations at the point are punctuated by yellow lichens and kelly-green moss.
Up for a scavenger hunt? Find the Coast Guard international boundary marker in front of the lighthouse and take the paved path back to a former Coast Guard station, now a ruin, and spy the former helicopter landing pad. Patos is only a couple miles from Canadian waters, and is the northernmost of the San Juan Islands.
If you're planning on a longer stay, grab one of the park's first-come, first-served campsites, pitch your tent and take in the beauty of this rare, haunting isle.
Patos Island is a 207-acre marine park with 20,000 feet of saltwater shoreline that is owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Washington State Parks manages the campground at Active Cove on the west side of the island and maintains the two mooring buoys and a 1.5-mile loop trail. The group campsite is often reserved for the local volunteer group that maintains the lighthouse. There is no potable water on the island and visitors must pack out what they pack in.
PICNIC & DAY-USE FACILITIES
There is no potable water or garbage service on Patos Island. Visitors must pack out what they pack in.
WATER ACTIVITIES & FEATURES
Located in San Juan County in Puget Sound, Patos Island has two mooring buoys in Active Cove.
The park offers seven campsites, one picnic site, one composting toilets, and one vault toilet at Active Cove. Camping is available on a first come, first served basis. Campers must register at the bulletin board near the beach. There is no potable water or garbage service on Patos Island. Visitors must pack-out what they pack-in.