Camano Island State Park was designated as a park in 1949 and in one day it was developed by nearly 900 volunteers. The park is 134 acres and has over a mile (1.6 km) of rocky beaches littered with driftwood.
Visitors have built driftwood forts and picnicking at one of the more than 100 picknick benches is popular. I found that walking along the beach was both beautiful and somewhat difficult since the beach is very rocky. High cliffs make the shoreline very scenic and many birds use the area for nesting.
The park is open form 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. in summer, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in winter.
What are those funny little critters on that farm?! They look like baby llamas! Como se llama? Those would be alpacas, known to knitters everywhere. These short, cute, Patagonian relatives of the llama are apparently in high demand as pets.
Unexpectedly, our simple getaway to the beach had connected us with faraway Patagonia. This farm and it's mother farm in Punta Arenas, Chile represent the work of a couple who have dedicated their lives to raising alpacas for the pet trade. It turns out that a $1200 alpaca requires only about 1/2 an acre, eats grass, doesn't bark and can be left alone while you're on vacation. Compared to a designer dog this sounds like a pretty good deal. But of course you'd miss out on all the face licking, trash eating and back yard digging that make a dog like Lucky so loveable. ;-)
In any case, no trip to Camano Island would be complete without at least a stop to view the alpacas. Next time we go to Camano we're going to visit the farm. Their web site says that visitors are welcome but you might want to call first. They were shearing the day we drove by.
Water, sand cliffs, rocks, clams, driftwood -- we must be on the shores of Puget Sound. Beach play is the main reason to come to Camano in the first place. So get on down to Camano Island State Park and let the child within have free reign for a few hours.
(To see the entire Camano coastline from the air check out these shoreline photos.)
The 'obvious' way to Camano Island from Seattle is to take I-5 north to exit 212 and then head west on Route 532 to Stanwood. But you'd miss some lovely countryside if you only did what was 'obvious'.
Instead, say goodbye to I-5 a little earlier at exit 208 and take the Pioneer Highway through Silvana and the lower Stillaguamish Valley. The Pioneer Highway skirts around the north side of these rich bottom lands or you can turn west on Norman road to drive right through this lovely farm country. For me, the vacation starts when I get onto the back roads.
The Elger Bay Grocery is really just the grocery attached to an Exxon station. Like many other quick-stop groceries it has an ATM and various sorts of junk food. But, as the only store in the southern half of Camano, it also has a good collection of the basics along with fishing and camping supplies. And with pony rides for only 25 cents it's a guaranteed favorite with any little ones you may have in tow.
If you're driving along the Pioneer Highway you'll see the sign for the "Little White Church on the Hill" just after you cross the Stillaguamish river. It's just off the road and is as pretty a church as you'll see in rural Washington.
Built by Norwegian pioneer families in 1890, it is a perfect example of Norwegian religious architecture in Washington State. This church is still used for weddings and weekend services in the summer by Peace Lutheran in Silvana.
When you're down at the beach be sure to walk over to the sand cliff and take a closer look at the layers that are visible. Just above the cobble and dirt is a layer of pure sand. Not sandstone, just sand. Immediately above that lie several layers of 'glacial till' -- that mix of sand and small rocks that retreating glaciers left throughout Puget Sound 10,000 years ago.
What's interesting here is that you have unconsolidated sand above the high water line -- evidence that Camano Island has been uplifted by several feet in relatively recent times. Of the several faults known to exist in western Washington, evidence like this demonstrates how the Seattle fault lifts the land north of Seattle up while submerging points to the south.