As you’ve no doubt heard, travel on Interstate Highway 5 has been impacted due to a bridge collapse in the Mt. Vernon area. But alternative routes are available, and travelers heading to the San Juan Islands are still able to easily reach the Anacortes ferry terminal.
Heading North on I-5 From Seattle
Travelers driving north on Highway 5 will have several options to reach the ferry terminal.
From the south take Exit 221, take a left onto Pioneer Highway/ WA 534, then take the second right onto Fir Island Rd, which winds across the delta for six miles. Just past the fruit stand turn left on to Best Road to cross the north fork of the Skagit River. Continue straight to State Route 20. Take a left on State Route 20 and continue into Anacortes.
Alternate: Exit 226, SR-536 through Mount Vernon to SR-20 and then to Anacortes. Here is the Google Map.
Heading South on I-5 From Bellingham
Travelers driving south on the highway have options.
Exit 231 (Highway 11 – Chuckanut Drive). Take Josh Wilson Road exit at the roundabout. Head west on Josh Wilson, turn left on Farm-to-Market Road, head south on Farm-to-Market Road, turn right on State Route 20 and continue to the Anacortes ferry terminal.
Alternate: Exit 230 will lead you to State Route 20, which heads west toAnacortes and the Ferry Terminal. Here is a Google Map for driving from theBellingham area to the Ferry Terminal.
Making Ferry Reservations
The most often means of travel to Orcas Island is by the Washington State Ferry System which is both an automobile and passenger (walk-on) ferry. Other ways to get here are by air and to the ferry terminal in Anacortes by airport (SEATAC) shuttle bus .
Getting here is half the fun aboard a Washington State Ferry and reservations are now available at www.takeaferry.com to help make trip planning easier and more predictable. Here are some tips for making your ferry travel stress free:
- We recommend making a reservation, especially from May through September and for holiday weekends.
- You'll need to make 2 reservations -- one coming to the islands (west bound) and one leaving the islands (east bound) if you're visiting Orcas or San Juan islands. The system will prompt you to make a round-trip reservation.
- If you can’t get a reservation on your desired day or sailing, no worries, reservations are released in 3 tiers to accommodate long and short-term planning by visitors and residents. Walk-ons don't need a reservation;
- The first 30% are released 2 months before the start of each of the four seasonal sailing schedules, for all sailings during that season, meaning that these reservations may be available up to 5 months in advance. Find more detailed info here.
- The second 30% are released 2 weeks prior to the specific sailing date.
- The third 30% are released 2 days prior to the specific sailing date.
- Each tier release of space opens online and by phone at 7:00 a.m., www.takeaferry.com or 1-888-808-7977.
- The remaining 10% on each sailing is set aside for those without reservations, emergency vehicles, and customers with medical documentation. Approximately 15-20 drive-up/stand-by spaces are often available on most ferries, so if you don't have a reservation, don't let this stop you from visiting. See the "Anacortes Terminal & Cameras" web page to view the approximate number of available spaces on sailings that day.
- You must check in at the toll booth at least 30 minutes ahead of your sailing time or you will lose your reservation and will travel standby. It is recommended that you arrive in line for your reserved sailing 45-90 minutes in advance of the sailing departure time due to possible long lines, staging requirements, and loading time. Bring your printed reservation sheet with barcode for easy scanning.
- There is no extra charge for a reservation, however, to secure a reservation you must provide a debit or credit card which will only be charged $10 if you are a ‘no show.’ (Ferry tickets are purchased separately at the Anacortes terminal or online. Tickets include a round trip, although be sure to make 2 reservations -- one coming and one leaving the islands, as mentioned above.)
- There are several sailings each day to and from Orcas Island and each of the 3 other islands islands which almost assures that you’ll get your first, second or third choice of sailing time with a reservation.
- Walk-ons don't need a reservation. You can leave your vehicle at the Anacortes terminal and walk on the ferry with your luggage and/or bicycle or kayak. You'll find parking rates and a variety of island transportation options, including a seasonal transit bus and car, bicycle and moped rentals. If you're headed to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the ferry arrives within easy walking distance to activities, attractions, lodging, dining and shopping. If you're headed to Orcas Island or Lopez Island (or somewhere other than Friday Harbor on San Juan Island) you'll want to check into transportation options.
- Questions about reservations? Call WA State Ferries at 1-888-808-7977
To help plan your trip, you'll find everything you'll need at www.takeaferry.com. From this page, you can also find more information about Washington State Ferry terminals, including addresses and directions, ferry cams, amenities and ADA information to make your trip go more smoothly. Web cameras are also available to view the ferry lines at Anacortes, Orcas Island, Friday Harbor/San Juan Island, and Lopez Island. You can also view an aerial image of the Anacortes terminal to find parking, toll booths, and more.
Directions to the Anacortes ferry terminal from Seattle
- Take I-5 north
- Take Exit 230 to Burlington/Anacortes (or Exits 221 or 226 through scenic Skagit Valley)
- At the first light, turn left toward Anacortes onto Highway 20 west
- Follow Highway 20 west to Anacortes for about 16 miles
- Once you reach Anacortes merge right into the traffic circle and another right onto Commercial Ave.
- Take a left at 12th St,, where signs point you to the San Juan Islands ferry, and follow for about 2 miles to the terminal
- Allow a comfortable 1-1/2 to 2 hours to enjoy the drive and the scenery from Seattle, or Vancouver B.C., to the Anacortes ferry terminal.