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Washington State public lands parking permit.

Starts July 1, 2011.
Supports our parks.

WDFW Public Water Access sites.

San Juan County parks, trails and natural areas plan 2011-2016. Features water access sites.
Kayaking Lopez Island Kayaking San Juan Islands on a budget, in the winter.

Kayaking Lopez Island in the Island San Juan Islands Washington State, is not just a thing to do in the summer. Kayaking different locations on Lopez Island can be great year round, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each season.

Advantages to paddling Lopez in the winter include so of the following.

1. Fewer crowds on the island during the off season.

2. Cooler weather is better when it comes to paddling and sweating.

Here is a thing about summer vs. winter paddling. If prepared for the cold air and water with the right equipment and skills, winter is in my view much better then summer. That is because the water around here is freezing cold. Well maybe not exactly freezing but cold enough if you fall in it in the summer getting out in a breeze or wind can chill the bones into hypothermia year round. For me it is difficult to wear for the cold water in the summer and the heat of the day. In the winter I am good to go for the cold air and getting dunked in the "freezing" water. Winter is a win win situation.

Now for the down side or disadvantages, because of the fewer crowds some of the water access points like Spencer Spit State Park is not open.

Another big time advantage of winter kayaking is if you budget travel and camp out, there are few if any people at Odlin County Park. With fewer campers you don't have to make reservations. The summer months this park is very busy. It is a lovely location on the north west end of Lopez not far from the Washington State Ferry landing. Waterfront campsites can't be beat and the price is right at $18 a night in the winter as of this publication.

Lopez Farm Cottages camping is not available October through April.

The weather is not all that bad in the winter if you choose the time to visit Lopez and the rest of the San Juan Islands. Temperatures for this trip December 17+ have been in the upper forties and lower 50s. Just right for a serious paddle and camping adventure if you are prepared for it.

One downside of winter paddling is that the day light hours are short. Starts to get light around 7AM and then the darkness shows up again by 4:30 at this time of year. More time around the campfire? Or maybe you are prepared for some kayaking in the dark?

There are printed guides available when you reach the island. 2009-2010 Map & Guide Lopez
Island is a decent map and information about the services including accommodations. This guide can be found on the ferry on the way out or at most businesses on Lopez.

The guide I found most useful for water access points for someone interested in kayaking is called the Beach comber's Guide, Public Beach Access on Lopez Island. Lopez Bicycle Alliance publishes the Beach guide. I found the paper version on a sign post at the corner of Military Road and Fisherman Bay Road. Turns out you can see it now online at Lopez Bicycle Alliance.

Some notes about the innies and outties water access on Lopez Island for kayakers. Generally kayakers need to drive to the innies spot. The Bicycle map is great for cyclists and good for kayakers if you understand there is not adequate parking at some of the locations listed. I could not find the Swifts Bay public access. I think the signs have been removed?

The Lopez Village Beach Access is a short climb down a stairway. Not sure where you are allowed to park. Need to ask the local shop keeps nearby. Oh, there is parking across the main drag Lopez Road by the showers and public toilets that are not open in the winter.

Another draw back to camping on the island in the winter is there is not place to shower.

Other then what has been written here so far, that is the pro and con of camping and kayaking on Lopez in the winter.

I give it an A-. If there was some parking at water access points and more open and if there was a place to shower, it would get an A+.

Go for it!

View the shoreline of Lopez Island at Department of Ecology's aerial photos.

This link is the north end of Lopez Island. Click on the "S" at the bottom of the map to see the southern end of the island.

You can click on the red dots to see the photos of the coastline. Here is a sample link to Iceberg Point the southern tip of the isle. Iceberg Point is BLM, Bureau of Land Management property. Great to hike around it from Agate beach county park parking lot which is close by. Iceberg Point might be a place for an experienced kayaker to tackle if they have the skills and gear under the right conditions.

Fishing Reports, Stocking Reports & Fish Counts from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Things your need to know.
Read Me disclaimer, warnings, paddle at your own risk.

Click for Lopez_Island, Washington Forecast

See some of the weather conditions in Washington State by viewing Web Cams in diffefrent locaitons before you head out paddling.

View Kayaking Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands. in a larger map

Approximate distance from:
Seattle 93 miles.
Everett 65 miles.
Bellingham 58 miles.
Vancouver Canada 107 miles.
Portland Oregon 266 miles.

48.046900,-122.179004 GPS coordinates of innies and outties put in kayak launch site.

Click to view larger Paddle Heaven a world of flatwater kayak canoe put ins, launch sites and routes..

Region: San Juan Islands

Overall rating: 5 paddles.

Launch: See about the beach access guide in the text.

Launch rating: 5 paddles.

Parking: Parking is not always available at the water access sites. Washington State public lands parking permit

Miscellaneous Intermediate and up.

Highlights: Stunning Views, Camping, Wildlife, Friendly people

Warnings: Rocky coastline in places. Currents wind cold water KILLS. Can be quiet but Whidbey Island fighter jets can RUIN the silence.

Fossil fuel noise levels: 5 on a scale of 0-10. 10 being the loudest.

Facilities: Some of the water access sites have toilets.

Services: Food and gas are found in Lopez Village. Some food and gas near the south end.

Budget accommodations: Tent,Cabin,Hostels,Kayak Camps,RV,Yurt.

More information: Visit blog or page.


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Last Update: 08.23.10 3:36pm