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Part of being a map geek is being drawn to geographical oddities, parts of the map that stand out, for one reason or the other.  One of these oddities is the town of Point Roberts Washington, which is what they call an exclave – “a portion of a state geographically separated from the main part by surrounding alien territory”.  In this case, Point Roberts Washington is a tiny part of the Tsawwassen Peninsula that extends below the 49th parallel.

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Point Roberts Washington is only accessible on land by crossing into Canada and then back into the United States.  While on my recent trip to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, I took a trip up to visit Point Roberts Washington

Getting to Point Roberts Washington

If you’re coming from Seattle or the rest of the continental United States by car, a round trip to Point Roberts Washington will have you crossing the US / Canadian border 4 times.  You can also get to Point Roberts Washington by crossing Boundary Bay by sea or air.  There is a small airport and a marina, though no scheduled commercial air service nor scheduled ferry service.

I drove up on I-5, crossed the border on to BC-99 then went west on BC-17 to 56th street, which goes south directly to Point Roberts Washington.  No “Global Entry” here, though I am glad I don’t live at one of these houses

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It was about a 15 minute wait to cross the border – though Nexus cardholders get their own special lane.

(SEE ALSO: Do you need a passport to go to Canada?

Navigating around Point Roberts Washington

It’s not that hard – Point Roberts Washington is only about 5 square miles 🙂  There is only one Point Roberts border crossing, and if you stay on that road (Marine Road), it loops around most of Point Roberts.  I briefly visited Point Roberts Lighthouse Marine Park, which is on the southwest of Point Roberts, before realizing that was not where I wanted to be.  Continuing north on Marine Road brought me to Point Roberts Monument Park, where I spent a bit of time, before heading back over the border into Canada.  On my way back, I went east on Gulf Road near the Point Roberts post office

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If you’re just heading to the Point Roberts Monument Park, there looks like there is a way to cut through a neighborhood and go on Roosevelt Way paralleling the border directly to the park.

Exploring Point Roberts Monument Park

In the northwest corner of Point Roberts lies Point Roberts Monument Park.

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Point Roberts Monument Park has… (wait for it…) a monument!  It was erected in 1846 to commemorate the westernmost boundary marker between the United States and Canada

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The monument supposedly marks the exact 49th parallel (and thus the border), though you are free to walk all around the monument.  I am not sure if that “counts” as being in the US and Canada at the same point, but I totally did it.  The house that you can barely see to the right of the picture is in Canada, and you can see the hedges and fence that is a more visible sign of the border.

They really don’t want you to cross the border here

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Just on the other side of the parking lot, you can see the road on the Canada side that I believe once was a valid border crossing.  Here’s what Point Roberts Monument Park looks like from Canada (don’t worry – picture taken after I had legally crossed through the border crossing back into Canada)

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You can see the parking lot for Point Roberts Monument Park, and the park and the actual monument are off to the right

Hiking down to the Point Roberts Washington boundary beach

From Monument Park you can take a trail down to the beach.  The trailhead is right off of the parking lot near the Point Roberts Monument Park sign.

The trail down to the beach is rocky and has several switchbacks.  It’s passable but I would recommend caution if you’re unsteady on your feet or have small kids

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Again, there is no actual fence or border controls, though I would not recommend crossing the border this way.  The actual boundary marker is on a white rock about near those logs in the above picture – here I am, standing on the border rock.

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When you’re ready to go back up to Point Roberts Monument Park, the trailhead back up is marked

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What to do in Point Roberts Washington?

Wait, did you miss the part where I mentioned that Point Roberts is only 5 square miles? 🙂

Besides the marina, and Point Roberts Monument Park, I did notice a diner at the corner of Marine Road and Gulf Road.  If you want anything more than that, you’re best to head back over the border to Canada and get something in Delta

Had a great time in Point Roberts Washington, but as I told the border patrol officer on my way back “Had a good time but I’m unlikely to ever go back!”

Point Roberts Washington is an awesome geographical oddity that is ONLY accessible by driving through Canada.  Visit the beaches and parks but don't cross the unmanned boundardy!

Have you ever been to Point Roberts Washington?  What did you think?

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