Shark Reef Sanctuary


Shark Reef Road
Lopez Island , WA 98261


Every day Dawn - Dusk


A minimum impact nature area, Shark Reef Sanctuary provides a great opportunity to view wildlife in this relatively untouched parcel of land. Named after a nearby reef, the sanctuary is home to native sea birds as well as seals and other marine life. If you’re going to visit a park on Lopez, Shark Reef should be your first destination not just for the wildlife but also for the impressive view.

A country road leads to the park entrance and primitive trails wind through the woods to the sound. Both the trail and the park are relatively primitive--bikes, camping and fires are not permitted. The path through the park is not passable in a wheelchair, with many roots and logs crisscrossing the route. A brief, 15-minute walk will bring you to the main attraction of the park, the rocky cliffs overlooking the water.

From here, visitors look out on a sweeping view of San Juan Channel between Lopez and San Juan Islands. On a clear day, the Olympics are clearly visible to the southwest. Some scrambling down the rocks takes you to the water and the kelp beds, rock formations, and tide pools which are prime for exploration. Your best bet is to time your visit with an ebb tide; the current flows rather quickly along the cliffs on the tide change.

Perhaps the most interesting part of a visit to Shark Reef is watching the seals from the cliffs. A well-worn path leads south to a spot parallel to some offshore rock piles. Throughout the year, seals lounge on the rocks and cavort in the surrounding slow waters. They can usually be seen with the naked eye but binoculars help. The best time to see the seals is between tides, when the turbulent waters of the channel move much slower. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the seals crossing the channel to swim within a few feet of onlookers.
Written By: Glen Berry
On: 10/4/2000


Follow Ferry Road to Lopez Village and Fisherman's Bay Road. Take Fisherman's Bay for a mile or two until you find Airport Road (look for the signs). Airport Road connects with Shark Reef Road after a short distance, which will bring you to the park.


Walking Trails


Copyright 1998-2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED