What's black and white and wet all over? You guessed it: an orca! And just like these cool sea creatures, you can hang out with your family while having a whale of a time in the San Juan Islands. It's a perfect natural playground. With mountains to climb. Waterways to paddle. Tidal pools to explore. And plenty of games for the whole gang. Like stone skipping. Berry picking. Starfish spotting. Ice cream eating. Shorebird skirting. Constellation naming. Lopez Island waving. It's all waiting for you. You and your pod.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
Tents & Sleeping EssentialsOur roomy four-person dome tents accommodate two adults and two small children snugly, without luggage. Sleeping bag, sleep sheet and an extra-thick inflatable sleeping pad are all provided to make sleeping on the ground more comfortable. Backroads does not supply pillows, so please bring your own. No lighting is provided in your tent, so a small flashlight is essential.
Restroom FacilitiesRestroom facilities are available at each campground. The restroom floors can be wet, so be sure to bring flip-flops! We also recommend bringing a hanging toiletry bag since space is limited and surfaces are wet. Be advised that outlets and mirrors are few. Backroads does not supply towels, so please be sure to pack your own.
ConnectivityKeeping your cell phone charged while on a camping trip is usually done during the day via a car charger in the Backroads van. Backroads will provide car chargers with USB ports, so please make sure to bring your USB connecter cord with you. You’ll be responsible for plugging your phone in and retrieving it at a later time.
Day 1 Mount Constitution, with 360-degree views of the San Juan archipelago, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and the Olympic Range After taking the ferry to Orcas Island, delight in an awe-inspiring day of hiking around Moran State Park, a nature-lover's paradise of 5,000 wooded acres Kids (and kids at heart!) can cool off with a swim in Cascade Lake.
Days 2-3 After a morning hike to the sound, board a chartered vessel for a wildlife-watching cruise to Lopez Island Picturesque rural terrain lines the bike route to our scenic campground Pedal to Agate Beach and Shark Reef Sanctuary, where the younger crowd will have fun exploring tide pools Lopez Village's cafés and galleries invite a visit.
Day 4 An array of activities showcasing the best of the islands - San Juan Island is next on our list After landing at Friday Harbor, hike to Young Hill and relish breathtaking views of the sound The younger set is treated to a pizza party and private tour of the Whale Museum.
Days 5-6 Paddle through peaceful inlets and vast kelp beds, spotting harbor seals, otters and bald eagles Bike along rolling terrain to Friday Harbor, where you may want to stop in at the Whale Museum yourself before our final ferry ride.
- Explore San Juan, Orcas and Lopez islands by foot, bike and kayak
- Paddle through peaceful inlets and vast kelp beds, spotting harbor seals, otters and bald eagles
- Look for tiny sea creatures among the tide pools at Shark Reef
- Whale-watch on Haro Strait, the "Whale Highway"
- Mount Constitution, with 360-degree mountain and island views
Moran State Park Campground (1 night): Our campsite is near the shore of tranquil Cascade Lake, a great spot for a refreshing dip.
Spencer Spit Campground (2 nights): Set out in the sound on a slender spit, this campground offers stunning vistas over the water.
Lakedale Campground (2 nights): Surrounded by 50 acres of lakes, this site offers a beach for swimming and a large grassy area for games of all kinds.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of
interests and fitness levels. We know your pace may vary from one
day to the next-and your traveling companion's may differ somewhat
from yours. So we present a range of mileage options, and each
day you decide exactly what and how much you want to do.
Routes For All Abilities
|Daily Route Options|
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3||Level 4||Level 5|
|miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain|
|Other||Lopez Island wildlife-watching cruise (3 hours)|
|Kids||Berry picking (1 hour)|
|Kids||Games on the beach (1 hour)|
|Kayaking||In Roche Harbor (3 hours)|
On this Family Trip, our routes follow rolling terrain. Liberal van shuttling is incorporated into the itinerary to facilitate our activities and mileage is kept moderate to enable you to spend more time exploring on your own. The level of difficulty assigned to each day's routes takes into account the elevation gain and road surface. (Roads in the San Juans tend to be gravel-sealed, creating more rolling resistance.)
There is less than 5% of riding on hard-packed dirt on this trip. Since the overwhelming majority of the trip is paved, we've elected to use standard road bike tires on our titanium road bikes. Most guests find this to be the right answer. If you prefer to skip the dirt, a shuttle is always a possibility.
* Includes a shuttle
2014 Dates & Pricing*
- 6/16-21 Price: $2098 pp dbl. occ., (+ $100 for sgl. occ.)
- 7/7-12 Price: $2098 pp dbl. occ., (+ $100 for sgl. occ.)
- 8/11-16 Price: $1998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $100 for sgl. occ.)
*Prices may change. Once you book your trip, your price is guaranteed.
Recommended Kids Ages
- Recommended minimum age for the trip: 6 years
- Minimum age restriction to ride own bike: 9 years
- Minimum age restriction to kayak: 6 years
General Info on Minimum Ages:We strongly encourage families to join our Family Trips, designed with kid- and adult-friendly features. Please note that we have a minimum age requirement of 1 year for all Inn trips and 2 years for all Camping trips. Other than that, we do not restrict trips to a minimum age except in the rare case of a hotel age restriction. We do, however, recommend minimum ages based on the following criteria:
- 12+ amount of cultural appreciation, difficulty of activities, routes
- 9+ difficulty of activities/activity age restrictions, routes
- 6+ several longer dinners, routes are difficult for pulling a Burley and therefore not appropriate for younger children, difficulty of activities/activity age restrictions
Private Trips Options & Pricing
Gather your favorite people to share a Backroads adventure on a ready-to-book Private Trip - featuring all the legendary Backroads hallmarks from expert leaders to unforgettable activities.
All Private Camping trips require a minimum of 16 guests. Call us for date availability.
Youth savings do not apply to Private Trips.
Guest Trip Reviews
My children and I had a remarkable time on this trip. I know it had to be an enormous amount of work for the team but they made everything look so easy and every event transitioned so seamlessly. When I asked my 8-year-old daughter to rate Backroads on a scale of 1-10, she gave the trip a score of 9,000,003.- O'Fallon, MO
This was the best family trip we have taken! We all thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and were sad for it to end. We are afraid that if we go on another Backroads trip it couldn't possibly be this good! The families were a good mix and the leaders were so amazing and cohesive. The San Juan Islands are so beautiful and we were lucky to have perfect weather.- Delray Beach, FL
This was my best vacation ever! The San Juan Islands are spectacular. Seeing their beauty close up and 'out there' was so much better than viewing from a car or bus. The biking, hiking, and sea kayaking were perfect. They and the other members of our group made this trip so much more than a typical vacation. We learned a great deal about the San Juan Islands from the leaders and had great fun doing it. I would recommend this trip to anyone! Our leaders worked great together and had as much fun as we did. Their personal touches topped off this trip, from playing wiffle ball with the kids and Backroads 'Survivor' at the campsites to their deep knowledge of the San Juans.- Clearwater, FL
We had an exceptional vacation! The fact that it was a camping vacation resulted in many more opportunities for "spontaneous fun" for the kids, and the guides definitely facilitated and promoted those opportunities. In general, the guides worked fantastically together - they were a wonderful group that did everything they could to make our vacation as enjoyable and memorable as possible. When you add that kind of dedication and service to such a remarkably beautiful location, the result is an absolutely awesome vacation.- Irvine, CA
This was one of my all-time favorite family trips. Everyone in our family had an awesome time and I can't remember one spat between any of our three children during the whole week, which is a rarity with siblings. Each of our children gained self esteem with each hill they biked and with the praise and guidance of our great leaders! The children (aged 8,11,14) were given enough independence to feel really cool, while actually being well mentored and well cared for! It is the first time that neither my husband (an attorney in a high-pressured law firm) nor I (a physician) went a week without calling, or even thinking about "the office" or my patients. We have never been both so active and so relaxed, so in the wilderness (well, not really) and so pampered. Thank you!- Atlanta, GA