Lopez Island

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Lopez Island locator map.svg
Location of Lopez Island in the San Juans
LocationPacific Northwest
Coordinates48°28′44″N 122°53′31″W / 48.47889°N 122.89194°W / 48.47889; -122.89194Coordinates: 48°28′44″N 122°53′31″W / 48.47889°N 122.89194°W / 48.47889; -122.89194
ArchipelagoSan Juan Islands
Area29.81 sq mi (77.2 km2)
United States
CountySan Juan County
Population2,588 (2017)

Lopez Island is the third largest of the San Juan Islands and an unincorporated town in San Juan County, Washington, United States. Lopez Island is 29.81 square miles (77.2 km2) in land area. The 2000 census population was 2,177, though the population swells in the summer, as second homes, rental houses, and campsites fill up.


Iceberg Point at the southern tip of Lopez Island overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca

The ancestors of today's Northern Straits Coast Salish people began to appear in the wake of the continental ice sheet that started to recede 11,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that the island supported hunting and gathering between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. The marine culture encountered by the first Europeans to the area developed about 2,500 years ago, and traces of its once thriving villages remain in the shell middens found along the shoreline of American and English camps and throughout the San Juan islands.[1]

During the Wilkes Expedition, Lopez Island was given the name Chauncey Island, after the American naval commander Isaac Chauncey. When the British reorganized the official admiralty naval charts in 1847, Henry Kellett systematically removed many of Wilkes's names. He renamed the island Lopez, for Gonzalo López de Haro, the Spanish naval officer who was the first European to discover the San Juan Islands archipelago.[2]

The Lopez Island Historical Museum collects and preserves the regional history of Lopez and the San Juan Islands. The museum features artifacts reflecting Lopez's contributions to the maritime, fishing and farming industries. The museum has an extensive archive of local historical documents as well as artifacts depicting life on Lopez Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[citation needed]


2010 Census[edit]

As of the 2010 census, there were 2,383 people, 1,204 households, and 719 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 93.6% White, 0.3% African American, 0.9% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 1.2% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.6% of the population.

There were 1,204 households, of which 14% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.3% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.97 and the average family size was 2.45.

The median age in the city was 56.9 years. 12.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6%, 28.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.[3]


Lopez Island is flatter than most of the other major San Juan Islands. It is also the most rural of the larger islands, and has rolling terrain of forest, farmland, and beaches. The island is longest in the north–south direction.


This region experiences warm and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Lopez Island has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[4]


There are no highways on Lopez Island, and no bridges connecting to the mainland or other islands. The primary means of travel to and from Lopez Island is by ferry. The ferry terminal is located at the extreme north end of the island.[5] It is the first stop of four on the Washington State Ferries’ San Juan Islands run. A typical sailing from Anacortes takes approximately 40 minutes.

Lopez Island Airport is the main airstrip for the island, located on its west side, offering daily commercial flights. Charter floatplanes land in Fisherman Bay at Fisherman Bay Seaplane Base, located approximately three-fourths mile north of the airport. A small private airstrip called Windsock Airport is located less than one and a half miles from the ferry terminal.[6]

Economy and tourism[edit]

Lopez is home to a large number of tourist-related businesses, largely country-style bed and breakfasts and rental houses, many with ocean views. There is a vineyard, one hotel and resort, two public marinas, several restaurants and cafes, a Zagat-rated gourmet restaurant,[7] a small bookstore, and two coffee shops. The summer months' Saturday Market in Lopez Village is filled with arts and crafts, local farm produce, and community activities.

Lopez Island is a popular destination for bicycle tourists. Bicyclists are advised to avoid Center Road, which is not as wide as other island roads. But overall, the drivers are bicycle-friendly and the roads are easier to ride than those on the other San Juan Islands with lower speed limits.

The island is known for the longstanding custom of waving at every motorist, bicyclist, or pedestrian encountered on the island's roads.[8][9] In 1996 Paul Allen bought a large Sperry Peninsula site on Lopez Island.[10] The purchase displaced Camp Nor'wester, a summer camp for local children that had been running for 50 years.[11][12]


Shark Reef Park
  • Agate Beach County Park — This picnic area and beach is at the end of MacKaye Harbor Road at the south end of the island.
  • Odlin County Park — This park is used for camping and picnics and has a boat launch. One of the most popular beaches on the island, Odlin Park resides just south of the Ferry Landing and is a popular stop during the summer.[13]
  • Otis Perkins Day Park — This park has one of the longest beaches in the San Juan Islands.
  • Shark Reef Park — This park offers long views west over San Juan Channel. It includes a half-mile trail through some old-growth trees.[8]
  • Spencer Spit State Park — The focus of this park on the northeast side of the island is a long, low sandspit that almost connects to small Frost Island just offshore. This 130 acre (53 ha) park has a camping area, picnic sites, and mooring buoys for boats.
  • Upright Channel Park — This state-operated facility offers several picnic sites and a hike down to a sandy beach.


  • KLOI-LP - local low-power FM radio station based on Lopez Island.


  1. ^ "The First Ones". San Juan Island National Historical Park. National Park Service. Retrieved April 25, 2022. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Phillips, James W. (1971). Washington State Place Names. University of Washington Press. pp. 81–82. ISBN 0-295-95158-3.
  3. ^ Bureau, U. S. Census. "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  4. ^ Climate Summary for Lopez Island
  5. ^ "WSDOT - Ferries - Lopez Island Ferry Terminal".
  6. ^ "Lopez Island Ferry Holding to Windsock Farms & Excavation". Google Maps. Retrieved 2020-07-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Christopher Hall, "Off the Washington Coast, a Restaurant That Follows the North Star of Localism" New York Times (Sept. 15, 2018) at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/15/travel/ursa-minor-lopez-island-washington-restaurant-review.html
  8. ^ a b Pitcher, Don (June 2005). "Lopez Island". San Juan Islands. Moon Handbooks (2 ed.). Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing. ISBN 1-56691-872-3.
  9. ^ "The laid-back pleasures of Lopez Island," Seattle Times (3 August 2012) http://www.seattletimes.com/life/travel/the-laid-back-pleasures-of-lopez-island/
  10. ^ "The Seattle Times | Local news, sports, business, politics, entertainment, travel, restaurants and opinion for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest".
  11. ^ Rich, Laura (2002). The Accidental Zillionaire: Demystifying Paul Allen (1st ed.). Wiley. p. 170. ISBN 0471234915. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  12. ^ Egan, Timothy (1996-08-16). "In Playground of Rich, Clock Is Ticking for a Camp That Withstood Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  13. ^ "Lopez Island Day Parks - Odlin County Park". San Juan County. Retrieved 2009-01-24.

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