At 29.81 square miles, Lopez is the third largest of Washington State’s San Juan Islands. Ferry service from Anacortes links Lopez to the mainland and paved roads make travel around the island easy. There’s also has a small airport and private airstrips. Lopez island has two marinas, a village with shops and eateries, and numerous parks. Lodging is available in campsites, one hotel, and vacation rental homes. There’s even an Airbnb in a treehouse – looks like a fun place to stay.
Biking is popular on Lopez since it is not so hilly as the other main islands with the maximum elevation at just 220 feet. Other island attractions besides forest, beaches, and peace and quiet include a winery and museum and other local places of interest. Activities include kayak rentals, whale watching or fishing excursions, scenic flights and island bus tours.
Lopez Island was named Chauncey Island by an early expedition, but changed to Lopez by the British in 1847. The island is named for Spanish naval officer Gonzalo Lopez de Haro, the first European to discover the San Juan Islands in a 1790-1791 expedition. Haro Strait is also named after him. Lopez Island sits south of Orcas Island and east of San Juan Island, the two islands larger than it. Both of those islands are also serviced by Washington State Ferries, as is smaller Shaw Island northwest of Lopez between Orcas and San Juan. Blakeley and Decatur Islands sit east of Lopez. Haro Strait runs between San Juan and Vancouver Islands, with the USA/Canada border running through Haro Strait.
State and county parks are included among the parks on Lopez with Spencer Spit State Park and Odlin County Park on opposite sides of the ferry dock. Odlin County Park sits about mile south the ferry landing on the island’s west side, while Spencer Spit is 4 miles southeast of the dock on the island’s east side. Both parks are accessible by car or boat and have campgrounds.
Spencer Spit State Park is a 138 acre park with 2 sandspits and a marshy lagoon. Activities include hiking trails, fishing, crabbing, clamming, diving, swimming, kayak rentals, and wildlife watching. Most of those activities are seasonal. Odlin County Park has a boat launch and dock as well as camping and picnic areas and trails. This park also has wildlife.
We made a brief stop at Odlin County park one day for a picnic lunch. We came by boat and tied up at their dock located conveniently a short walk from the boat ramp and seaside picnic area. The highlight of our brief visit was four otters swimming around between the dock and shore. We also took a short hike on one of their trails. This was during a time when the whole pacific northwest was shrouded in smoke from distant wildfires so the sky looked very gray that day. We could see tents on the beach in the camping area, which was not near the picnic area where we were. We did not see any other people at the park until we were nearly ready to leave and saw one car with 2 people. Which is good while on a social distance vacation during the Covid pandemic where other people are the last thing you want to see.
Lopez village has a chamber of commerce with island maps and suggestions of things to do as well as shops, eateries, groceries, a museum, community center, wine tasting, and post office. The village is near to Fisherman’s Bay which has moorage available for those who come by boat.
This island is a great place for visitors who want to get away from the crowds, but still have limited amenities available.
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