I've never camped anywhere quite like the beach sites at Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island, Washington. Of course the scenery was beautiful, but something about camping amidst the San Juan Islands and watching the ferries passing by made it a truly special place to spend a weekend. When I consider that it took us about an hour and a half of driving and an hour long picturesque ferryride to get to the park from Seattle - it almost makes me giddy and ready to hop in the car to go back.
About the Park
Spit State Park is a 138-acre marine and camping park that has two sand spits that jut out towards a small island to form a small lagoon. The walk-in beach sites are about a 1/4 mile or so down a dirt trail from the parking lot. I'll warn you now, parts are a little steep and since it was muddy I most definitely slipped and fell. Next time, I'll be bringing my hiking poles just in case.
The park is also part of the Cascadia Marine Trail, and has several sites and moorage buoys reserved for those traveling this route around Puget Sound.
The park has 37 tent sites and three group sites - however, we came specifically to stay in the walk-in beach sites. There are seven beach sites numbering 44-50 and while all of them have a spectacular view the ones on the far end (sites 48-50) are oriented for the best views out across the water. We stayed in site 46, which was very large but didn't seem to have many good flat spots to set down our tent. These beach sites have no tree cover or privacy - however they are significantly sized to give you some breathing room from your neighbors.
Lets talk about amenities - as in, what kind of facilities and conveniences are already provided for you at the campground. Now, I consider myself an all or nothing type of camper. Meaning that if I'm camping I'd prefer to either have no amenities or the ultimate camp luxury of hot showers. However, for the right campsite in the right location, I'll deal with a lack of amenities.
Spencer Spit State Park has bathrooms with cold water and flush toilets. Just remember that you'll have to truck uphill back to the parking lot to get to those. Closer to the beach sites, there is a cold water spigot and a pit toilet. At your campsite, you'll have a picnic table and fire ring to use. While we only encountered some curious crows, it is important to secure your food from other potential critters. The one small food locker for all the beach sites was filled with gluten remnants - so we opted to truck our food up to our car each night.
List of Amenities:
- Flush & Pit Toilets
- Cold Running Water
- Trash & Recycling Receptacles
- Picnic Tables
- Fire Rings with Grills
- Firewood for Sale
- Food Locker (for birds and raccoons)
- Carts to load your gear into for the trip down to the walk in sites
A few tips for camping on the beach at Spencer Spit State Park;
- Bring some kind of shelter in case of powerful sun or rain. Having a shelter over our table saved us from a rained out night of dinner making.
- If you have a canoe or kayak, bring it! You can launch right in front of your campsite and paddle out to a picture perfect small island.
- Think ahead and bring firewood with you. You probably won't want to go all the way back to the ranger station to buy it and the gathering opportunities are limited to rather moist driftwood on the south side of the spit.
- If you're looking for a great weekend get away site with a few friends - these would be perfect sites to reserve. The open nature of the sites combined with their large size lends itself to a group get together.
- These sites are very popular among those who know about them - to make sure you get the dates and site you want, book as far ahead of time as you possibly can. I booked the day campground reservations opened for the year and there were only two beach sites left for a weekend in May.