Lime Kiln Lighthouse San Juan Island Washington

Lime Kiln Point State Park

Lime Kiln Point State Park

Lime Kiln Lighthouse San Juan Island Washington Lime Kiln Point State ParkLighthouse at Lime Kiln Point#64945  Purchase

Lime Kiln Point State Park is located on the west side of San Juan Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Facing Haro Strait and Vancouver Island, the park is one of the best spots in the world to view wild killer whales from land.

The park is not very large, and it isn’t a quick drive destination. In fact it can take a bit of prior planning to make a trip worthwhile. This is mainly due to the need to take a ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Since the park and ferry terminal are on opposite sides of the island you’ll also need to take your vehicle along for the ride. But don’t think you can just drive up to the terminal and be loaded on the ferry! The San Juan Islands are a very popular destination, especially on summer weekends. So to avoid ruining your outing you’ll need to reserve a spot in advance. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for some travel tips!

Killer Whales San Juan IslandsKiller Whales off San Juan Island

Marine Life

If you’re visiting Lime Kiln Point for the marine life you won’t be disappointed. The surrounding waters are home to the Southern Resident Killer Whales. They are a group of about 75 killer whales, or orcas, that live for most of the year in this part of the Salish Sea. Aside from orcas, sea lions, seals, porpoises, and minke whales frequent these waters.  On our visit there were numerous sea lions playing close to shore. But don’t expect close up personal views of orcas, they swim farther off shore. Bring your binoculars or spotting scope for good views, predictably we forgot ours. The photo above is from several years ago on a whale watching tour.

It should be noted here that the Southern Resident Killer Whales are considered an endangered species. Their population has dropped from 85 to 75 individuals in recent years. This is mainly due to a drastic reduction of their prime food source, coho salmon. Their situation is compounded by numerous other factors, including increased stress due to noise levels from pleasure boats and freighter traffic. To learn more please check out the Center for Whale Research.

Roche Harbor San Juan Island Roche Harbor  #64910  Purchase

Touring San Juan Island

The park was our main destination for photos, but since we arrived early we had all day to explore the entire island for more subject matter. Another lighthouse at Cattle Point at the southern tip of the island was on my shoot list. However, lighting conditions there we not very good so I’ll need to return in the future to photograph it.

On the northwest tip of San Juan Island lies Roche Harbor, a historic seaside resort town. Here can be found Hotel De Haro, the states oldest continually operating hotel, in business since 1886. Judging by the looks of it Roche Harbor is the go-to destination for the yachting crowd. There is plenty of lodging and dining here, along with a general store well stocked with a variety of wines.

While on San Juan Island you can also check out English Camp and American Camp. These are part of San Juan Island National Historical Park. Not many people know that The United States and Great Britain nearly went to war in 1859 over possession of the island. The only casualty of this near conflict was a pig. Thus the incident went down in history to be known as The Pig War.

Container Ship Strait of Juan De Fuca Salish Sea Container Ship #64926  Purchase

Photographing at Lime Kiln

After our short tour of the Island we drove back to Lime the park in time for evening light and sunset. The lighthouse is the most obvious subject matter here. However, there are also great views south to the Olympic Mountains. I found them to work well as a backdrop for telephoto shots of freighters, and also on their own. Of course there is also the marine life. You’ll definitely need a good telephoto lens for photographing killer whales.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse San Juan Island Washington Lime Kiln Point State ParkLime Kiln Point Lighthouse #64939  Purchase

The lighthouse photographs best in the evening and sunset. There are plenty of excellent spots on the rocky shore to set up different compositions. A variety of focal lengths will work here, from wide to short telephoto. The classic south side view of the lighthouse will be illuminated much better in winter, when the sun is further south. However, at that time you’ll need to create a wide panoramic to include the sunset and structure in the same frame. In summer the north side will be in sunlight. Then you can photograph the lighthouse looking south with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop. Unfortunately from this angle there are few spots to set up your tripod, so getting a good composition may be difficult.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse San Juan Island Washington Lime Kiln Point State ParkLime Kiln Lighthouse #64906  Purchase

How to get to Lime Kiln Point

As mentioned above, you’ll need to review the ferry schedule carefully and reserve a vehicle spot in advance. You can still drive on without a reservation, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. On a Friday or Saturday in summer it appears like everyone in the state is going to the islands. If you are just walking on or taking a bicycle you won’t need a reservation. But remember the park is not within walking distance from the ferry terminal at Friday Harbor.

Ferry approaching Orcas Island dockSan Juan Islands Ferry  #64889  Purchase

There are two ferry routes to Friday Harbor, one is a direct nonstop passage from Anacortes. The other makes three stops, at Lopez Island, Orcas Island, and Shaw Island. If you have the time I recommend the latter. It’s a much longer passage but more scenic as the ferry sails past numerous picturesque islands. If possible try and time your return ferry passage for the evening before sunset. There are excellent photo opportunities then, with the islands and Mount Baker bathed in warm light!

Lime Kiln Lighthouse San Juan Island Washington Lime Kiln Point State ParkLime Kiln Point Lighthouse #64955  Purchase

Thanks for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it. Please consider sharing it with friends family and colleagues!

All photos on this post are available as fine art prints, and for commercial licensing.

Liberty Bell Mountain North Cascades

New Images Autumn North Cascades

New Images Autumn North Cascades

Liberty Bell Mountain North CascadesLiberty Bell Mountains, North Cascades  #64469  Purchase

My final group of images from 2018 is now online and ready for viewing. As with the past several new releases I have added a selection of highlights to the New Images Gallery. You can see even more by visiting the Washington Gallery or searching by keyword/location.

This past year I have been very fortunate to have been able to visit some exciting new locations in the Midwest and Appalachian Mountains. However, it somehow seems fitting that the year is finishing up with a successful fall trip on my home turf. Washington Pass and Rainy Pass along North Cascades Highway are two of the most scenic sections of the state. This area holds many fond memories for me, so I’ll jump at any chance I can get to photograph there. On this most recent visit in early October I was lucky to have both fresh snowfall and sub-alpine larches at their peak color.

Liberty Bell Mountain North CascadesLiberty Bell Mountain from Washington Pass Overlook  #64568  Purchase

The other location included in this set is even closer to home, Heather Meadows Recreation Area. Just an hour up the road, I’ve been their many dozens of times, for photography, skiing, and hiking. This area of easy access can be very crowded in every season. So on this occasion I hiked the Ptarmigan Ridge trail on a quiet Monday in spectacular fall weather. The next morning I photographed near the ski area just as a few clouds drifted in to herald a change of weather.

Alpine Larches North CascadesSub-alpine Larches North Cascades  #64608  Purchase

Cutthroat Pass Larches, North CascadesBlack Peak and sub-alpine larches, North Cascades  #64521  Purchase

Table Mountain North Cascades WashingtonHeather Meadows Recreation Area #64649  Purchase

Heather Meadows in autumn North CascadesTable Mountain, Heather Meadows Recreation Area  #64642  Purchase

 

Lady Washington and Mount Baker, Semiahmoo Bay, Washington.

Lady Washington

Lady Washington at sail in Semiahmoo Bay, Washington.Lady Washington Semiahmoo Bay  #62496  Purchase

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take an evening cruise on an authentic tall ship. The Lady Washington and her companion, the Hawaiian Chieftain, were spending the weekend in Blaine Harbor. Both of these ships are owned by the Grays Harbor Historical Society, in Aberdeen Washington. Throughout most of the year they cruise to ports in Washington and Oregon, and down to California in the fall. When both are in a port at the same time they offer an afternoon mock battle cruise and then an evening sunset cruise.

The Lady Washington is a replica of the original eighteenth century ship. She was the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America. Her smaller companion, the Hawaiian Chieftain, was built in 1988 for cargo trade in the Hawaiian Islands. Fans of the Pirates of the Carribean movies may recognize the Lady Washington as the ship featured in The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Lady Washington and Mount Baker, Semiahmoo Bay, Washington.Lady Washington and Mount Baker  #62509  Purchase

Sailing in Semiahmmo Bay

I’m a great fan of historical sailing ships. During my youth one of my hobbies was building scale models of various eighteenth and nineteenth century ships. Back then I could rattle off the names and function of all the sails and rigging. So I took advantage of their visit to Blaine Harbor and bought a ticket for the evening sunset cruise. Of course my other motivation was to make some photos of the ships at sail in the evening light.

Most folks on the evening cruise that day chose to sail on the Lady Washington. That was also my first choice since it is the bigger and more dramatic looking of the two. However, since I was out to make some photos, I chose the Hawaiian Chieftain. That way I could photograph the Lady Washington at sail. My choice in vessels was perfect, as we set out to sail the Lady Washington was out in front with a beautiful golden sky as a backdrop. Even the crew took time to grab their cameras!

Lady Washington at sail in Semiahmoo Bay, WashingtonLady Washington at sail in Semiahmoo Bay  #62537  Purchase

The cruise went on for about three hours out in Semiahmoo Bay, and I was able to make many photos in the changing light. Some of the most notable were of the Lady Washington with Mount Baker as a backdrop. However, the only disappointment was the lack of wind. There was only an occasional slight breeze to fill the sails and push us on at 1.5 knots per hour.

If you would like to know more about the ships and their schedule please check out the Grays Harbor Historical Society website. I hope you enjoy these photos, I’ll definitely be adding more the next time these ships are in port!

Hawaiian Chieftain masts rigging and sails.Hawaiian Chieftain Sails and Rigging  #62582   Purchase

Hawaiian Chieftain Square Topsail KetchSailing on the Hawaiian Chieftain   #62515  Purchase

Lady Washington at sail in Semiahmoo Bay, Washington. A historic replica of the original 18th Century brig. Owned and operated by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, Aberdeen, Washington. 3 pound gun swivel mounted gun on the Hawaiian Chieftain is in the foreground.Lady Washington at sail in Semiahmoo Bay  #62523  Purchase

Ferry crossing Admiralty Inlet, Washington

Fort Casey State Park

Ferry crossing Admiralty Inlet, WashingtonFort Casey State Park  #62178b  Purchase

Back in late April I made a brief visit to Fort Casey State Park located on Whidbey Island. Years ago, when we lived on South Whidbey I would make regular trips to this scenic and historic park. Later we would bring relatives there when visiting from back east. But although I’ve always wanted to spend some time photographing the park it never seemed to fit into the schedule. That is until this April, when I planned an Olympic Park coast trip. Coming down from Bellingham I stopped for the day at Fort Casey before taking the Keystone Port Townsend Ferry, adjacent to the park, the next morning.

Fort Casey State Park is an attractive destination for several reasons. First, it sites on the west side of Whidbey Island with a commanding view of the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan De Fuca, and Admiralty Inlet. One could spend a day sitting on the bluff just watching ships sail by. With the right timing you can even witness an aircraft carrier from the Home Port in Everett sail by. With exceptional luck and a good set of binoculars it’s possible to even see a Trident submarine.

10 inch gun, Fort Casey State ParkFort Casey State Park Battery Worth 10″ Disappearing Gun  #62165   Purchase

Fort Casey State Park, part of the Triangle of Fire

Aside from the views and ships the next biggest attraction of the park is the fort itself. Fort Casey if one of the three coastal forts forming the “Triangle of Fire”. Built around 1890 the forts guarded against invaders attempting to make their way into Puget Sound. At the time the forts were armed with a variety of artillery including state of the art 10 inch guns mounted on disappearing carriages. However, these guns became obsolete in less than twenty years. Most were sold for scrap or placed in forts in the Philippines, but two were eventually brought back years later as historic display pieces.

Fort Casey State Park, WashingtonFort Casey State Park Batteries and Bunkers  #62170   Purchase

Fort Casey State Park, battery bunkers.Fort Casey State Park Bunkers  #62105   Purchase

A visit to Fort Casey wouldn’t be complete without checking out the guns and the concrete bunkers of the batteries. These bunkers are a hands down favorite for families and their children. On a busy summer weekend kids will be running in and out of the bunkers, having a blast playing hide and seek.  If all of the above isn’t enough, there is also Admiralty Head Lighthouse to explore. Plus long stretches of driftwood strewn cobblestone beaches, camping and picnic areas.

Admiralty Head Lighthouse, WashingtonAdmiralty Head Lighthouse  #62218   Purchase

The kid in me loves all of this, but on this trip I also wanted to enjoy making long overdue photos. Fortunately on this visit the weather was beautiful and I had some nice evening light to work with. The park can offer a pleasant afternoon of fun, but I recommend staying a night or two. That way you can enjoy the sunset, and maybe take the Ferry over to Port Townsend the next day. Don’t forget your State Parks Discovery Pass, and to make reservations in advance for camping or for driving on the Ferry. Have fun!

Fort Casey Officers residence, Whidbey Island WashingtonOfficers Residence Fort Casey  #62141  Purchase

10 inch gun, Fort Casey State ParkFort Casey State Park Battery Worth 10″ Disappearing Gun  #62087   Purchase

Forty Casey State Park WashingtonFort Casey State Park Battery Turman  #62083  Purchase

Liberty Bell Mountain Washington Pass

Washington Pass North Cascades

Washington Pass North Cascades

Liberty Bell Mountain Washington PassLiberty Bell from Washington Pass   #61304   Purchase

My last post featured a hike up to Maple Pass along the North Cascades Highway of Washington State. This post will feature the second part of that short trip. Not far up the road from Rainy Pass and the Maple Pass trailhead is one of the premier areas of the North Cascades, Washington Pass. Sitting at 5477′ this is the high point of the North Cascades Highway. It also features one of the best views of dramatic mountain scenery in the state accessible by vehicle. During the winter months the pass closes due to deep snows and hazardous avalanche conditions.

Proudly guarding the pass is Liberty Bell Mountain and its attendant peaks, The Minute Man and Early Winters Spires. All of these and surrounding peaks are composed of a pinkish type of granite carved from the Golden Horn Batholith. The quality of rock attracts climbers from all over the globe, and in early spring ski mountaineers.

Kangaroo Ridge, Washington Pass MeadowsKangaroo Ridge from Washington Pass #61316   Purchase

The aesthetic beauty of the area also attracts photographers, me being one of them. Most visitors new to the pass generally head to the dramatic views of the overlook area. However I enjoy the peaceful solitude of the adjacent meadows and the wonderful compositions it offers. The meadows are the headwaters of State Creek and can be classified more as wetlands. Photographing on the spongy ground requires very light steps to protect the delicate plants. Another requirement is a willingness to get your feet wet and a tolerance for swarms of flying biting insects!

Liberty Bell Mountain Washington PassLiberty Bell reflected in State Creek #61365  Purchase

Autumn is also another great time to visit as the subalpine larches fringing Liberty Bell are turning gold. However the sun is then at a lower angle and doesn’t illuminate much of the north face of the mountain. When the road opens in spring you can also get an idea of how the pass looks in winter conditions.

Washington Pass North CascadesWashington Pass #61343  Purchase