Welcome to hosting information for Moran State Park!

We are Friends of Moran State Park, a nonprofit 501(3)(c) organization.

Our mission is to support park staff as they manage Moran State Park.  We strive to enhance the visitor experience by providing educational opportunities related to the cultural, historical and natural environments at the park.

Each year we reach out to our hosts to offer information and connections as you prepare to come to one of the most beautiful islands in the Pacific Northwest. We encourage you to learn more about us on our website.

Here’s the state paperwork Individual Volunteer Application.  Fingerprints and background checks are required.  You should mail in application along with fingerprints and PLEASE DO NOT bend fingerprint cards!

Once we have your completed paperwork and your dates of arrival and departure, we’ll send you various links to helpful literature about MSP and Orcas Island.   We’ll include information about park history, ecology, native species and the flora and fauna of MSP in case you’d like some light reading before, during or as you arrive on Orcas Island.

Camp Hosts who work at least eight days per month in our Summit Gift Shop and/or Summit Learning Center, and Summit Hosts who work 28 hours per week, and stay two months can have one time ferry costs reimbursed by FOM. You may submit your receipts to us when you arrive. Reimbursement will be provided before you leave at the end of the season, subject to prior FOM board approval (certain conditions may apply). Here is the current ferry schedule.

You will be getting an email from us regarding the scheduling of time in the Gift Shop.  Reply to our volunteer coordinator to chose your eight days.  Scheduling in the Learning Center for Summit Hosts will be coordinated with the Educational Chair.

Please find a collection of FAQ and helpful host tidbits that have been passed along from the  park office, hosts and local volunteers with some editing.  We hope this will be helpful.  Visit the links provided or email us with any questions you may have.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

How were these islands formed?

The San Juan Islands’ unusual geologic features are a result of the glaciation of the Puget Sound region.  Around 15,000 years ago, a glacier over one mile thick pushed a lobe of ice into the area we now call Puget Sound.  The ice scoured out an intricate system of channels and islands over a period of about 3,000-5,000 years.  With its tremendous weight and southward movement, this sheet of ice eroded the landscape and changed it into what we see today.  Because of this movement you can now see exposed bedrock on the shorelines of the San Juan Islands, and prominent rock formations like Mount Constitution, Mount Pickett and Turtleback Mountain. Glacial deposits of gravel, sand, clays and other eroded materials were left behind in the lower places that had been created as the glaciers receded over three thousand years.  About 11,000-12,000 years ago, glaciers left large amounts of water in the area as they melted and receded for the last time, thus creating many ponds, lakes, and Puget Sound.

What about the weather here?

Although located in the midst of the rainy coastal Pacific Northwest, the San Juan Islands boast lower rainfall amounts than typical cities on the coastal mainland of Washington State.  This is because of the “Rainshadow effect” brought about by our location behind the higher mountains of Vancouver Island and the Olympic Mountains.  As the prevailing west winds bring moisture from the Pacific Ocean, the air is forced up and over these mountains.  As air rises it cools, and cool air can hold less moisture.  The rain or snow therefore falls in the mountains, leaving the air with less moisture as it passes over the San Juan Islands.

This also explains why Mount Constitution is often cloudy and rainy when the rest of Orcas Island is not. Mount Constitution is the highest point in all of the San Juan Islands therefore when weather reaches its peak at 2,409 feet, it forces the air up again, creating a moist microclimate of its own.  Mount Constitution has a rainfall amount that is more than double other places in the San Juan Islands.

Use the chart below to compare the annual average rainfall of Mount Constitution to other cities and towns near here.

 

City/Place Rainfall (inches)
Mount Constitution 54
Olympia 52
Tacoma 38
Bellingham 37
Seattle 35
Everett 35
Olga (south Orcas Island) 29
Eastsound (north Orcas Island) 28
Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) 22
Lopez Island 19

 

Why is it so much cooler on Mount Constitution?

Mount Constitution not only has a wetter climate because of the air rising, it also has a cooler climate.  Air cools as it rises, making the temperatures atop Mount Constitution 5 to 7 degrees cooler on average than the temperatures at sea level. The average January temperature atop the mountain is 32° Fahrenheit.  This makes the mountain an irregularity in the San Juans since it frequently gets snow in the winter!  The average July high temperature is only 60° Fahrenheit.  This unusually cool and wet climate allows a rich diversity of plants that are usually found only at high elevations in the Cascade Mountains.

What kinds of wildlife can we see?

There are many kinds of wildlife you can see here on Orcas Island including black tailed deer, rabbits, squirrels, river otters, raccoon, shrews, bald eagles, great horned owls, hummingbirds, pileated woodpeckers, crows, ravens, wrens, robins, juncos, chickadees, great blue herons and more! Campers and hikers may be happy to know that there are no large predators on Orcas Island. Up until the 1800s there were large predators living on this island, but they were all hunted or trapped out along with a few other species of less dangerous quality. Historically there were black bear, wolves, cougars, beaver, and elk on Orcas, but due to the high demand of their pelts and furs in the 1800’s and to the increasing number of people living on the island, these animals no longer reside here. Due to the lack of these predators on the island other species, such as the black tailed deer, are thriving.  WARNING: Animals in the Park may seem docile and domesticated but please keep your distance and do not feed them. This will help them stay wild, and keep both you and the animals safe.

What types of trees and plants are there?

Moran State Park is home to one of the largest undisturbed hemlock forests in the state of Washington. It also has the largest continuous old growth forest in the Puget Sound Trough. There are four dominant coniferous trees on top of Mount Constitution and throughout the park. They include western hemlock, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and western red cedar (see picture below). Because of the islands’ moderate climate, there are many trees and plants that stay green year round. Grand fir, salal, Oregon grape, sword fern, Pacific madrona, and salmonberry are all evergreen species that you may see during your visit to Orcas Island. The peeling red-barked trees are madrona trees. They have white flowers in spring and red berries in fall. The tall shrubs with white flowers that turn brown later in the summer are ocean spray. The bell shaped purple and sometimes white flowers that grow on stalks are foxglove.

 

Host Need To Knows…

Transportation

You will arrive via the Washington State Ferry System. Once you are here, you can take excursions to the other islands on the Inter-Island Ferry, where walk-ons and bicycles are free!

If you’ll be leaving the island a lot, Wave2Go tickets and cards can be quite economical.

Taxi Service

Orcas Island Taxi is a 24 hour taxi service. Reservations are recommended. Call 376-TAXI (8294).

Wildlife Cycles in Eastsound is open daily from May-September for bike rentals.

Mopeds and scooters are available for rental at the Orcas Ferry Landing.

Internet Access

We have cell service and WiFi at the summit.  In Eastsound, there are several WiFi hotspots including the public library, Ship’s Bay and Orcas Online.

The Orcas Library has several computers for the public’s use. An individual can have four computer hours/day totals. There are two “express” (15 minutes only) machines. The library is open Monday-Thursday 10-7, Friday and Saturday 10-5. Sunday Noon to 3pm. Located at 500 Rose Street in Eastsound.

Entertainment

Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce

Music and history on Robert Moran and Rosario Resort program at Rosario music room Saturdays at 4 p.m. by Christopher Peacock.

Sunday afternoon concerts at the Village Green 5-7 pm

SeaView Movie Theater.  376-5724 a recorded message. 2
show times 7 and 9 pm. (1 show off-season only Fri-Saturday).

Solstice Parade (our best of the year) and celebration in the village square. Usually
3rd Saturday in June.

4th of July festivities. Parade is the Saturday of the 4th weekend. Fireworks in Deer Harbor July 3; in Eastsound July 4. Best viewing at the county park or the library hill.

Olga Daze is the third Saturday in July. Parade, garage sale, food.

The Fly In is the first weekend in August. Lots of fun for airplane buffs and everyone.

Library Fair and crafts market/street fair at the village square. 2nd Saturday in August.

Orcas Center Live performances (music, dance, theatre, etc.) 376-2281.

Saturday Farmer’s Market at the Village Square. 10-3pm

Breakfast at the American Legion or Fire Hall in Eastsound (summer weekends).

Your best resource is the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce. You can use the above link.

Outdoor & Around

Moran State Park (of course, but wait till you see the view from the Summit or the Cascade Falls)

Indian Island

The small island off Eastsound is a great adventure when the tide is low. Not always available, depends on the tide. Begin at the County Park across from the Outlook Inn.

Obstruction Pass State Park

½ mile walk down a trail to about 300 feet of saltwater beach access. Rare on Orcas. Beautiful location and great for low-tide walks! Tide charts are free at the island market, you just have to ask. Saltwater boat launching at the County boat ramp next to Lieberhaven Resort at Obstruction Pass.

Land Bank Properties

These public lands have some great trails and jaw dropping views of our island.  Make sure you take a trek to Turtleback while you are here. http://www.sjclandbank.org/orcas.html

Fishing

Fishing in the park is best in Cascade Lake or Mountain Lake. The season for Cascade Lake is that it is open the last Saturday in April through Halloween.

Mountain Lake and Twin Lakes are open all year but you need a fishing license.

Fishing Licenses renew yearly. Fishing licenses are available at Orcas Outfitters Sporting goods store in Eastsound.

Department of Fish and Wildlife stock the lakes:

Kokanee, Cutthroat, Rainbows

The Moran Creek Kokanee Hatchery is an ongoing project in conjunction with WDFW and the Friends of Moran.

Boat Rentals

At Cascade Lake, Orcas Outfitters is open daily 10-7 until Labor Day Weekend. Rent paddleboats and row boats, kayaks and canoes. Guided fishing and supplies.Fishing and crabbing can also be done at the Olga Dock.

Orcas Trail Rides does horseback rides through Moran, they meet near the South End campground.  For reservations call 376-2134.

Firewood

Ed and Fiona Stone are our concessionaires. They come around every night between 6 and 8 p.m. selling from their vehicle, Memorial Day to Labor Day. Self-serve wood is sold at the host sites (South End, Midway and North End) for $5 a bundle for wood and $3 a bundle for kindling. Self-serve is also available at the Welcome Station.

Telephones

Courtesy/Emergency phones are paid for by the Friends of Moran. Phones are located at the Cascade Lake Day Use area, Mountain Lake and the Summit.

Cell phones do not work well in the park if at all. Service is available in Eastsound or on top of Mount Constitution. Sometimes cell phone calls from the top of the mountain connect in Canada.

The phone number for the Gift Shop at the Summit is (360) 376-3111. Summit Learning Center 376-3148.

Propane

Available at Crescent Service (376-4076). Usually open during regular business hours but check if it’s outside those hours or Sunday.

Laundromat

The Country Corner has “coin” (card) operated laundry. (376-6900). Laundry is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Last load in at 6 p.m.

(Hosts may also use the FOM-provided washers and dryers at the park bunkhouse and the machine shop.)

Towing and Vehicle Repair

Auto-Tech (376-8697) or Crescent Service (376-6900).

Island Automotive NAPA Auto parts. Complete auto, truck, marine, farm, industrial parts, and accessories. 100% Recycled Water Car Wash. 8:00 – 6:00 M-F, 9-4 Sat-Sun. Mt. Baker Road, Eastsound – 360-376-4901.

Let us know if you have questions or suggestions to how we may improve this list! FOM