Washington: San Juan County

San Juan County (pop. 15,769) is Washington’s smallest county in land area. It is composed of the 172 named San Juan Islands, plus many more unnamed ones.

The county was named for the islands, which were named for Juan Vicente de Guemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, who sent an expedition to the area in 1791.

Viceroy of New Spain, 1789-1794

The four largest islands – Orcas, San Juan, Lopez, and Shaw – are served by the Washington State Ferries from Anacortes.

Mount Baker in distance

Friday Harbor (pop. 2,162), on San Juan Island, is the county seat, the commercial center, and the only incorporated city in the county,.

Only about 15 miles by air from Victoria, B.C.

Friday Harbor is the home of the “World’s Skinniest Latte Shop.”

Highly rated on Yelp

Lopez Island, just east of San Juan Island, is flatter and more rural than the other large islands.

Downtown Lopez

On Lopez Island, drivers (and cyclists and pedestrians) traditionally wave at each other at every opportunity.

Spencer Spit State Park is on the east side of Lopez Island.

Popular for camping

Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juans. Mount Constitution (elev. 2,407) is the highest point in the county.

The “Little Red Schoolhouse” on Shaw Island, which serves grades K-8, has been in continuous operation since 1890. A second classroom was added in recent years.


washington counties working

2 comments on “Washington: San Juan County

  1. Rick Dodds says:

    I had no idea about San Juan County consisting of only islands.

  2. dot says:

    I’m with Little Ricky: didn’t have a clue. Thanks for doing this! And Mom went to a school house K-8 in Green Mountain Falls, CO……just an FYI. Glad to see one still in operation.

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