• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

Traffic & Travel Tips

ferry in the islands
A Washington State ferry winds its way through the San Juan Islands. The passage from Anacortes to San Juan island takes about an hour on an express run; about 90 minutes with a stop at Lopez Island.
Lynn Kesling
 

Driving To Anacortes
The Washington State Ferries terminal is 85 miles north of Seattle and 90 miles south of Vancouver, BC. Exit Interstate 5 and take State Route 20 west (Exit 230) from Interstate 5 at Burlington, Washington. The route to the ferry is well signed, but if you would like to consult a map click here. Traffic along Interstate 5 (and its alternative 405 that loops east around Lake Washington) is intense throughout the day, as it is the only freeway running north-south across the state. Bottlenecks are scattered border to border, but the worst are within the city limits of Tacoma, Seattle and Everett in that order. Try to avoid transiting these areas during the Monday-Friday rush hours.

Boarding the Ferry
All ferries carry passengers and vehicles. As no reservations are necessary for boats to the islands, plan on arriving one hour before sailing during the winter months and at least two hours or more in the summer. Vehicle reservations are required for the Victoria crossing during the summer season. For automobile traffic, waits of six hours or more are not unusual at peak season so bring books, snacks, drinks and Frisbees, but watch out for the traffic in the ferry lines.

 

Tips for Ferry Riders

The ferry system is complex, governed by law and the employees work under high stress during the summer months. They do not make the rules, so if you're frustrated by long waits, placement of your vehicle on board, or cancelled or delayed runs, please don't take it out on them.

Once aboard, don't set the alarm on your vehicle. The pitch and vibration of the vessel will set it off.

No pets, other than service dogs and small animals in carriers are allowed on the passenger deck.

Food and beverages may not be available on board except in vending machines on some runs. Check with Washington State Ferries for boats with food service. You may want to consider eating before you board or bring a picnic lunch.

Did You Know?