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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.
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 visited back in 2016 – 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
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
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.
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
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
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)
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
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.
When you’re ready to go back up to Point Roberts Monument Park, the trailhead back up is marked
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!”
Have you ever been to Point Roberts Washington? What did you think?
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You made it! I must say, your trip was much more interesting than mine, I never knew about the Monument Park, I wish we had stopped there. Did you find the border guards were friendlier at Point Roberts than at the Blaine crossing?
I found all 4 border guards to be about the same – fairly bemused as to what exactly I was doing 🙂 Each border crossing to Point Roberts and back took about 15 minutes
how was the wait at the Peace Arch? That crossing can get crazy.
About 15 or 20 mins. Going northbound, there were signs that you could get off the highway to an alternate border crossing that had minimal delays, but I didn’t go for that
the other crossing is the truck crossing, also open to cars. If you want duty free going into Canada you need to go to this crossing. I have found that the lines usually seemed to move faster at this crossing.
what a waste of time
What, specifically, did you find to be a waste of time?
1. My going to Point Roberts Washington?
2. My writing about my trip?
3. Your reading my writeup, with the VERY deceptive title of “Point Roberts Washington”?
4. Your bothering to comment on the post?
5. My bothering to reply to your comment?
Depending on which of the 5, I might agree with you!
Maybe he thought your trip was rather lame. Perhaps, in his view, if you aren’t always flying to the Maldives in Etihad’s First Apartment, your trips don’t measure up to the standards set by other bloggers.
Maybe they could put up some of those awesome signs along the Mexican border also. This might limit illegal crossings there as well 🙂
Yes! They were definitely a HUGE deterrent 🙂
Apparently, there are no high schools in Point Roberts, so kids there have to cross the border 8 times a
Day to go to school.
Why eight? Why not four? Twice on the way to school, twice on the way home. Surely they don’t go home for lunch.
There is a hike in Bellingham we like to do. You climb really high and it is a beautiful view and always fun to look over to that small bit of land and say “Look, there’s, Canada”!
I grew up in Tsawassen (border town on the Canadian side). I have been to “The Point” hundreds of time for cheaper gas. US Gas is almost $1.20 per gallon cheaper than Canadian prices due to the tax structure.
Although a sleepy hollow, they did have murder suspects on the run from the law in the USA cross into Canada here:
Nice! I didn’t notice the difference in gas prices, though I did see that the gas in the US was still on the Canadian price structure (per liter)
Very interesting story, I did visit seattle but should have checked this out!
I always found Pt Roberts, and that tiny part of “the longest undefended border in the world,” to be an interesting place. Good to see that there’s still nothing in the way of border fortifications.
There may not be much to do there, these days, but going back quite a few years (I won’t say how many), “the Point” used to be the place to go for a beer and great music on Sundays (back when the Canadian bars and taverns had very limited hours on Sundays). The parking lot of the “the Breakers” tavern (now long closed) and “the Reef” tavern were full of “British Columbia” license plates. These days, it’s a nice, quiet place for a small number of permanent residents, weekend homes for Canadians, and also a convenient and cheaper place to live for a few dual Canada-US citizens who work in Vancouver.
Glad you got there, if only for a few minutes!
You better watch it or our Republican candidate WILL be putting up a big fence and having Mexico-oops I mean Canada-pay for it. 🙂
Way to bring politics into this conversation. Now go back down to your basement and play video games.
What about going by boat? 🙂
Going by boat (or plane) IS an option!
Is it possible to get to Point Roberts from Seattle by public transportation?
I don’t think so – it’s at least a 2 hour drive from Seattle, and I don’t believe there is any scheduled ferry service at this time
May I have your permission to use one of your photos in a Wikipedia entry on monuments along the 49th parallel?
The signs all seem to indicate that coming into Point Roberts is a crime, but can you just drive into Canada?
Just sell/give it to Canada.
Interesting article. Never knew there is a portion of Washington when I crossed the border into Canada. Maybe next time I’ll take a side trip to visit Point Roberts. Thank you.
I find oddities like this so fascinating. Thanks for sharing this!
I was a reef netter for six summers at Point Roberts . Our skiff was at the bottom of that trail to monument park and I went up and down that trail every day during the season. I lived in a cabin on South beach.
Living in Pt Roberts was definitely easier pre-911. Back then, the sole gas station was always busy with Canadians filling up on US-priced gas.
During the time of COVID border restrictions I seem to recall a part of the US only accessible via Canada was in a world of hurt. This must be the place.