Motors Allowed?
Difficult / Class C
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The 25-mile trip from Anacortes to Friday Harbor is not for the faint of heart. The route crosses the Rosario Strait, follows the southern edge of Lopez Island, and goes through Cattle Pass, an area notorious for swift currents and tidal rips. The trip should be planned around the tides, with an ebb when crossing Rosario Strait and a flood by the time you reach Cattle Pass. Since passengers boarding the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor are charged a round trip fee upon boarding, the trip back for kayakers is free; just make sure to pack your wheels!

To begin, kayakers can either put-in at Washington Park (parking is $9 per day) or directly to the west of the Anacortes Ferry Terminal (parking is $5 per day) and cross the Rosario Strait to Lopez Island. Along the way, kayakers can paddle by Bird Rocks, a resting spot for birds, sea lions, and seals, before continuing toward the rocky and diverse shores of Lopez Island. Once there, paddle south toward Iceberg Point, which is a great spot to have lunch and wait for the tides to change before heading toward the whitewater and tidal rips that occur in Cattle Pass. During max flood, you can feel the currents pulling you toward the rough waters that are notorious in the pass. Depending on your comfort in rough water, choose to either kayak down the middle of the pass or skirt the edges where waves can be less intimidating. Either way, it should make for a fun ride during max flood. After the pass, continue to ride the flood toward Friday Harbor, where you can celebrate a long, hard day on the water before wheeling your kayak onto the ferry. There is a dock right in front of the marina office to the north of the ferry landing where kayakers can load and unload their boats for a fee of $5.  

Note that the crossing from Anacortes to Lopez Island is long and the conditions can change quickly with the weather. Kayakers making this crossing should be aware that they are crossing a major shipping channel. Having a VHF radio is highly recommended.


Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Solitude. Great views. Lots of wildlife.


Tidal rips. Strong currents.


Backcountry camping
Whale watching
Bird watching

Site characteristics: Water


Portage required




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