During my recent visit to Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, I had the opportunity to have a small but intriguing taste of Deception Pass State Park. This is the most visited state park in Washington. Sadly, because of the pandemic, the campgrounds were closed, and the Civilian Conservation Corps interpretive center at Bowman Bay was as well. I’d have dearly loved to have checked that out. I hope to do so in happier times. No boat or kayak rentals were available either.
It sounds like I did nothing. But in fact, the trails were open, and they provide spectacular views of the pass. You wander among some of the oldest growth forests still extant in the state. You walk under and/or over the breathtakingly high bridge, and look down upon the waters rushing through the narrow pass when the tide is going in or out. The current can get up to 8 knots, and can produce standing waves, whirlpools and eddies. You might even catch a glimpse of seals or whales going through (we didn’t). You’re even more likely to see boats waiting for the tide to change direction before they make transit.
The park is 3,854 acres, some on the Whidbey side, some on the Fidalgo side, and it also includes 10 islands. There is plenty of fishing, camping, hiking, boating, beaching and tidepooling (which isn’t a word, but you get the idea) to do. I’m particularly intrigued by the rentable cabin that is only accessible by rowboat.
Deception pass was named by the explorer George Vancouver, because he felt deceived by that narrow pass. He thought it was simply a river, and didn’t even realize that Whidbey was an island until his lieutenant, Joseph Whidbey, circumnavigated it. That’s why Vancouver named the island after him. But as with all European “discoveries”, the Coast Salish tribes had already settled the area.
If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend that you visit Deception Pass State Park. Here are some of the pictures we took during our all-too-brief visit.
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