Proud to be the "gateway to the San Juan Islands," the Port of Anacortes is a popular tourist destination for boaters - with six marinas within the city limits. Life in the Port of Anacortes is island style, but it is located near within an hour of Seattle. The Port of Anacortes offers lots to see and do. Popular with rock climbers, Mount Erie is just seven kilometers (4.5 miles) south of the Port of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. Rosario Beach is a favorite haunt for locals and a popular dive site. Washington Park is just six kilometers (four miles) west of the Port of Anacortes. Fidalgo Island also has seven lakes and the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.
The Port of Anacortes has a cool-summer Mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and mild wet winters that can get chilly. Temperatures in the Port of Anacortes range from an average high of 23°C (74°F) in July and August to an average low of 2°C (36°F) from December through February. Precipitation peaks in January at 9.1 centimeters (3.6 inches), and falls to 2.2 centimeters (.8 inches) in July. Humidity levels in the Port of Anacortes remain steady at about 90% throughout the year. Snow comes to the Port of Anacortes from late October through mid-April, peaking in December at about 12.7 centimeters (five inches) and January at 14.7 centimeters (5.8 inches).
Covering more than 1100 hectares, the Anacortes Community Forest Lands is a valuable natural and recreational resource within the Port of Anacortes city limits. Containing forest and wetland habitats with lakes, ponds, and meadows, the Community Forest Lands have over 80 kilometers (50 miles) of trails open to bicycles, hikers, horses, and two-wheeled motorcycles (in some areas). The highest point in the Forest Lands is Mount Erie (388 meters or 1273 feet), and less than a mile to the north is Sugarloaf, the second highest point (318 meters 1044 feet).
Until the 1990s, the forest was logged extensively, stimulating the formation of the Friends of the Forest and a community-wide effort to preserve remaining forests. The Port of Anacortes Community Forest Lands contains wetlands, bogs, lakes, low mountains, and rock cliffs that offer many outdoor recreation opportunities. A grove of low-elevation old growth forest survives. The upper story contains Douglas fir, Western Hemlock, Shore Pine, Grand Fir, Bigleaf Maple, Pacific Madrone, and Red Alder. Understory species are dominated by Salal and Vine Maple.
The Port of Anacortes' Washington Park is an 89-hectare park with facilities for camping, picnicking, and launching boats. Winding through the forested hills and meadows in the park, a 3.5-kilometer (2.2 mile) scenic loop road offers great views of the San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains. Open throughout the year, Washington Park in the Port of Anacortes has 73 campsites, 46 with water and electric hook-ups. There are three covered picnic shelters in this Port of Anacortes park, one of which can be reserved through the Parks and Recreation Department. There are also ten unsheltered picnic tables with barbecue grills or fire pits. Boaters can use the boat launch for $8 per day and stay as long as 14 days. Annual Boat Launch Passes are also available. Washington Park hours are 6am until 10pm, and the loop road is open from 10am until dusk for vehicles and from 6am until dusk for pedestrians.
The Port of Anacortes is located on the northwest shores of Padilla Bay. This very shallow tidal bay is flooded at high tide, and mudflats are exposed at low tide. The mud flats provide habitat for a wide range of bird and animal species. The Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve covers more than 3200 hectares in Skagit County. The Washington Department of Ecology and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have jointly managed the reserve since it was incorporated in 1980.
While the reserve is primarily used for research about Puget Sound, the Breazeale Interpretive Center (about nine kilometers or six miles across Padilla Bay from the Port of Anacortes) offers exhibits exploring the ecology and natural history of the bay and estuary, a theater, fish tanks, and a hands-on room. There is a public access beach within the reserve and a 3.6-kilometer (2.25-mile) shore trail running along the top of the dikes. The observation deck is wheelchair-accessible. The Breazeale Interpretive Center is open to the public from Wednesday through Saturday from 10am until 5pm, although it is closed on official State holidays. The trails and parking lot are open at all times free of charge.
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