Tips on Traveling by Ferry 2018-07-05T01:14:21+00:00

TIPS ON TRAVELING BY FERRY

Getting to Lopez:

The Washington State Ferry (WSF) system allows reservations to be made for travel from Anacortes to Lopez Island and they are highly recommended especially from May through September.  Please be sure to check out the information at their website: About the Reservation System.

Release dates:  Reservation spaces will be released in groups: one-third 2 months before a new schedule goes into effect,  one-third 2 weeks prior to a sailing and one-third 2 days prior to a sailing.  Spaces are released at 7AM.

Availability: Remember that when you first try to book a reservation, it may appear that there is no space on the sailing you want.  But if you wait until the next release date to get a reservation (2 weeks or 2 days before) you may be able to reserve a spot.  Also, there is at least 10% standby space available on every sailing. Depending on the number of reservation cancellations, this number can be higher.  On the day of your sailing, the Anacortes Space Availability chart is very helpful.

Travel tips: WSF hopes that the reservation system will reduce congestion in Anacortes.  But there still may be waiting lines to reach the ticket booth, so be sure to allow extra time. You must go through the ticket booth in order to pay your fare.  You must arrive at the ferry and be through the ticket booth no later than 30 minutes prior to sailing in order to use your reservation.  We recommend getting there 60 to 90 minutes in advance to make sure you have time to get through the lines and onto your chosen ferry.  If you miss your reserved ferry, you can still show up and travel stand-by.  If you missed your reservation, be sure to show the person at the ticket booth your reservation confirmation so you will get credit for traveling on the same day and avoid the no-show fee.

No Show Fee: If you make a reservation and don’t use it on the intended day, you will be charged a $10 No-Show fee (for standard vehicles.  More for longer vehicles).

Changes/Cancellations:  Reservations can be changed up to 2 hours before sailing time – but it’s best to do it the day before to avoid confusion.  You can cancel your reservation without penalty up until 5 p.m. the day before your reserved sailing.  There is one free change after 5 p.m. of the previous day, but it has to be done before the lockout period, which is 2 hours before sailing time.

General Release Policy

WSF releases the reservation space in multiple tiers, as follows:
Release When Available % Regular Height Space Available % Tall Height Space Available
1 2 months before the schedule begins for all sailings for that season. 30% 90%
2 2 weeks prior to sailing* 30%
3 2 days prior to sailing* 30%

*Reservation space is released at 7:00 a.m.  For example, spaces on a 5:00 p.m. sailing on Wednesday are released at 7:00 a.m. on Monday.

Leaving Lopez:

NOTE: Reservations cannot be made for travel from Lopez back to Anacortes, so plan to arrive at the Lopez ferry terminal well ahead of the time you hope to depart.  Please be advised that in the busy season (May through September and especially July and August) the heaviest traffic leaving Lopez is on a Sunday (or Monday in case of a 3 day weekend).  Fourth of July is our busiest holiday and traffic on July 5th is always extremely heavy.  You may need to arrive two hours (or more) before your sailing time on the busiest days.

Make sure you have activities and food with you in case you have to wait longer than expected.  There is no food service or drinking water available at the ferry landing. Restrooms are available but may be a significant distance from where you are parked in line.  Taking a walk or bike ride (if you have your bicycle with you) are about the only activities available while you wait.

Each ferry departing Lopez is assigned a number or quota of vehicles and those spaces are filled on a first in line/first boarded basis.  The ferry quotas listed below can help you judge how early you need to arrive.

Summer 2018 Ferry Quotas
(from Lopez to Anacortes)
:

June 24 – September 29, 2018

6:20 AM 12
7:15 120
  10:45 139
2:40PM 43
 SUN/HOL ONLY 3:05 23
  6:15 139
THUR — MON 7:35 141
11:20 16

NOTE: Quotas are subject to change without notice by WSF depending on operational conditions and are NOT guaranteed.

When is the best time to travel? WSF has provided charts of congestion patterns from past seasons to help you decide when to travel.  Visit the Current Schedule and click on Best Travel Times, on upper right side.

Lopez Ferry Landing: (360) 468-4095  (please be aware this phone does not take messages and will not be answered when the ferry landing is very busy or  when there is a ferry in the dock.)

Webcam at the Lopez Ferry Landing

WSF  has installed a webcam system at the ferry landing – with a view from the bottom of the hill looking up at the holding area, and another view from the top of the hill looking at the holding lane that stretches back along the road.  This is a great way to get a feel for the traffic on Lopez. View Webcam.

Helpful Links:

Sign up for Alerts – Create an account and receive bulletins by text or email. Includes reservation and standby status updates, sailing time status, as well as changes in the schedule for any reason. You select the route and the level of information you want to receive.

Summer Schedule – June 24 – September 29, 2018                                 Make a Reservation                                                  About the Reservation System

Current Ferry Bulletins – Want to see if there are any delays or schedule changes? View all the posted bulletins.

Anacortes Space Availability – This helpful chart shows how many spaces are left on each ferry sailing  today – updated by the minute (also shows Anacortes webcams).

Vessel Watch – See where the ferries are enroute.                             Ferry Fares

Contact WA State Ferries:

  • Statewide:
    • Dial 5-1-1
    • 1.888.808.7977
    • 1.800.843.3779 (automated)
  • Out of State: 206.464.6400
  • Seattle: 206.464.6400