Spencer Spit State Park

crab at the lagoon at spencer spit park

Spencer Spit State Park

Spencer Spit State Park offers natural beauty and recreational opportunities to delight any visitor to Lopez Island. Whether looking for a beach day, a hike through coastal forests, or a chance to see iconic PNW wildlife, Spencer Spit State Park has something for everyone. With its cold waters, sandy beaches, and stunning views, Spencer Spit is a perfect destination while on Lopez Island.

State Park

Tip of spencer spit park
The view at the tip of Spencer Spit looking out to Frost Island.

Spencer Spit Washington State Parks comprises 200 acres of coastal forests and sandy beaches. Visitors can enjoy beachcombing, hiking, picnicking, birdwatching, and more. With several miles of hiking trails, it is a great place to take a hike. The biggest draw to the park is a half-mile-long sandy spit that extends into Lopez Sound. If camping is your thing, the park has a campground with 47 tent camping spaces and group campsites. There is also a small playground for kids, one of only two on Lopez. While this state park is open year-round, the campground is only available from May through September. Visitors without a Washington state parks pass will have to pay to park their car.

Picnicking at Spencer Spit

Spencer Spit State Park is also great for a picnic with friends and family. It also offers picnic tables and fire pits right on the beach, perfect for cooking camp-style or roasting marshmallows. Keep in mind that there is no firewood for sale in the park, so you should bring your firewood or charcoal. Also, remember that fires are allowed only in designated fire pits and are not permitted on the beach. With a bit of planning, visitors can enjoy a lovely picnic in the natural beauty of Spencer Spit State Park.

Bird Watching

birdwatching lopez island
A wise Owl watches hikers pass by at Spencer Spit.

Spencer Spit State Park is a birdwatcher’s mecca. The park is home to many bird species, many unique to the Pacific Northwest. Some of the most commonly seen birds in the park include Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Harlequin Ducks, and gulls. Birdwatchers may spot interesting shorebirds with great names, such as Sandpipers, Marbled Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklets, and Kingfishers. The park’s diverse habitats, including saltwater marshes, sandy beaches, and coniferous forests, make it a remarkable place for birdwatching. So pack your binoculars and birding guides for any trip to this park! 

Spencer Spits Lagoon

Spencer Spit State Park is home to a beautiful lagoon enclosing sand spit that is a must-see for any visitor. The lagoon is located on the north end of the park and is accessible by foot or by boat. It is a marine environment rich in biodiversity and is home to a wide variety of marine life. Some of the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon include exciting species of fish, crabs, clams, and the occasional sea star. Tiny crabs are a favorite critter for young children to watch. While the small crabs will not pinch, large Dungeness and Red Rock crabs will, so be careful. You might spot different types of seaweed and eelgrass, which provide important habitats for many fish species and invertebrates. 


Spencer Spit State Park offers visitors the opportunity to go clamming and enjoy some delicious San Juan Islands seafood. The park’s sandy beaches are home to so many species of clams, including the littleneck, butter clam, and Manila clams. The largest clams found here are horse clams, but they are very tough in texture and require you to grind their meat like you would sausage. Most clammers use a shovel or a clam gun to dig clams.

Make sure to read up on the regulations before you go clamming. In Washington state, you must have a shellfish license, which you get online at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website. You can also get your license on the island at Islands Marine Center. The lagoon is closed to all shellfish harvesting, so keep digging to spencer spit’s beaches. If you are looking for another clamming beach on Lopez, check out Odlin County Park.  

Great campground on a Small Island

Spencer Spit offers a variety of camping options for visitors. The park has a campground with 47 tent spaces and 17 utility spaces. Group camps and a hiker/biker campsite are available. The small group camp accommodates up to twenty people. The campgrounds also offer one dump station and two restrooms with showers.

Tent Camping sites offer a mix of sun and shade, and Most of the park’s tent sites are large and private, featuring picnic tables and fire pits. The campsites are open May through September, and reservations are recommended as the campsites can fill up quickly during the peak summer season. There are a few three-walk-in sites but no walk-in beach sites. Keep in mind that there is no first aid station at the park, so if there is an emergency, you can call Island EMS via 911 or visit Lopez Island Medical Center.

Visitors should be aware that there are no RV hookups at the campground, and RVs are not allowed in the hiker/biker campsite. Spencer Spit State Park is the perfect destination for a camping trip with its beautiful natural setting, recreational opportunities, and convenient amenities. If you are looking for a camping alternative, check out Edenwild Boutique Inn on Lopez Island.

Boating at Spencer Spit

boating at spence spit
Kayaker paddling at Spencer Spit State Park

Spencer Spit is a popular deep-water moorage for motor boats and sailboats. It is one of the few parks offering moorage in the San Juan Islands. There is no dock, so you will need a dingy to make it to shore. If you are into car-top boating, Spencer Spit is an excellent location to launch sea kayaks


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