Deception Pass happens to be Washington’s most-visited state park. The park is filled with coves, rugged cliffs, gorgeous forested hiking trails, and a high bridge over deep green waters. There is lots of beachfront coastline, hiking trails in forest and with overlook bluffs to explore. There is fishing, swimming and kayaking in freshwater lakes and saltwater bays. Whale spottings happen frequently on the water depending on the time of year as well as seal spottings. Rosario Beach has beautiful tide pools, Cornet Bay is a perfect boating location, and The north and West coast stretches of beach on the island are along Hoypus Forest one of the State’s oldest growth. Deception has is 3,854 acres and includes a marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline as well as 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline covering 3 lakes. The park is split across two islands, Fidalgo and Whidbey. Deception Pass Bridge connects the two islands and the park. This is one of my favorite spots to hike on the island and my favorite beaches.
How to get there
Deception Pass State Park is on Whidbey Island and the bridge connects to Fidalgo Island as well. The trails are split between the two island but Whidbey holds the majority of the main parking, trails and bridge entrances. The park is off of the 20 coming south from Anacortes off of the mainland and entering Fidalgo island. You must have a discover pass to park in the bridge parking lot! See below to find out more about the Discover Pass for Washington Parks.
6:30 a.m. – dusk
8 a.m. – dusk
This is the pass that is required for vehicle access to all WA state parks and can be purchased annually for $30. Two car vehicles license plates can be written for each pass. If you have three or more vehicles you need to buy two passes. This grants you access to all national and state parks in WA. Day passes are $10 per day use and so the annual pass saves you a lot of money and supports the state parks. If you are visiting from out of state or country and are just going for the day then a day pass may be worth it, but there are also a list of Discover Pass free days where you don’t need the pass and there is free entrance. Buy a discover pass online here.
Free Park Entrance Days
- Jan. 1 — First Day Hikes; New Year’s Day
- Jan. 21 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- March 19 — State Park’s 106th birthday
- April 20— Spring day
- April 22 — Earth Day
- June 1 — National Trails Day
- June 8 — National Get Outdoors Day (State Parks and Fish & Wildlife free day)
- June 9 — Fishing Day (State Parks and Fish & Wildlife free day)
- Aug. 25 — National Park Service 103rd Birthday
- Sept. 28 — National Public Lands Day
- Nov. 11 — Veterans Day
- Nov. 29 — Autumn day
Deception Pass Bridge
This epic bridge spanning two islands, Fidalgo and Whidbey, is 180 feet high and 1486 feet long. It is a two lane bridge linking the two islands and is one of the most crazy bridges in the world. There are two main sections of bridge and combined the bridge is 1486 feet long. The road on the bridge is Route 20. You can walk on the sidewalk pedestrian side of the bridge to feel your heart drop looking over the edge at the beautiful view. The bridge is made of 1500 tons of steel and it is calculated about 15,000 cars pass over the bridge daily (most of these are over the summer season but split up over a year equal out to this daily). Walking out on the bridge for the view and the pictures is an amazing experience. There is a parking lot at the end of the bridge on the Whidbey island side for parking and there are bathrooms. You must have a discover pass to park!
There are so many beautiful forested trails on the two islands spanning Deception Pass Park. I have listed below seven popular hikes in the area. There are many more trails. My favorite two trails I do each time I return to WA my roots are, Lighthouse Point and Deception Pass Bridge and Beach trail. Rosario Head I also do often as well. The trails are all fairly low elevation and not many hills or climbs like in the mountains. Most of the trails are easy and some moderate. The hiking is forested dirt paths with great overlook points on the cliffs.
Lighthouse Point Via Bowman Bay/Rosario Beach Trail
This is one of the hardest and most beautiful hikes on the island in my opinion. I always do this one when I am yearly visiting the park. This trail has amazing views of the ocean, islands, mountains, deception pass bridge, and includes forrest path as well as cliffside beauty. This is a moderate 2.5 mile loop hike starting in Bowman Bay with 98 meters of elevation. The trail is best August-December and dogs are allowed on this trail. This trail is mostly forrest as well as cliffside views of the water and nearby islands from the edge where the trail is on the outside. More trail information and directions here.
Deception Pass Bridge & Beach trail
This is only about a 1 mile trail but it starts at the bridge and descends 115 m of elevation and is an out and back. This climb on the back is a steeper climb. This is more of a short nature walking trail that takes you to North Beach that you can walk in low tide to rap around to West Beach. You park at the main top parking lot next to the bridge and take the first main trail to the left headed down instead of to the right under the bridge . Trail information and directions here.
Rosario Head trail
This is a 1.5 mile out and back trail on Fidalgo island. The trail is best April to November. This is a short easy trail that has beautiful ocean views. Rosario Beach is one of my favorite Fidalgo and Whidbey island beaches and is the best one in Deception Pass Park. Start the trail at the end of Rosario Beach Road. Follow the trail south. Stay to the left of the totem to go clockwise around the point. You can take the trail to the right of the totem leading straight ahead into the trees to hike the opposite way (counter clockwise). The trail will have a short wooded section before opening onto the point with amazing views in all directions. There are lots of bald eagles flying and nesting near this location. Follow the trail along the perimeter. You will scramble on some rocks and then head into the woods for a short path before coming out at the totem a full loop.
Goose Rock Trail
This is an almost 2 mile loop trail near Oak Harbor on Whidbey island. The trail begins under the Deception Pass bridge and starts off the right side under the bridge heading into the forrest. The path will begin going up right away but not very steeply. There is a steady ascent in the forest that will level off in a rocky “meadow” with open views to the south and east. This is another one of my personal favorites on the island. I do this hike for the great views of Bowman Bay and the island.
Pass Lake Loop Trail
Pass Lake is the quiet small fresh water lake found on the 20 on your left after you cross over Deception Pass State Park heading North or heading into the park coming south. This is my favorite spot to kayak and there is a small beautiful hike here as well few know about. The path goes through woodlands with towering trees, an old logging area, a newer trail to a huge cedar tree, and large boulders topped with moss. This is a hilly 3.4-mile loop trail. From the parking lot, take the trail leading into the forest. A ways in, you’ll arrive at a ‘Y’ and have the option to go left or right. If you go left the trail goes to the logging road. This portion is mostly uphill and in the sun. The path goes back into the forest, you’ll have the option to take the Big Cedar trail. The massive tree sits at the top of a fern filled gully, and the trail goes past several medium-sized cedar trees. The trail is steep with a narrow path here, loose rocks and roots. Here you reach the bottom, you can either take the optional one-way Ginnett Trail to hike further or take the same way back.
3.4 miles, moderate
Hoypus Point Trail
This is a 1.8 mile out and back hiking trail. The trail starts at the Cornet Bay Road. Follow the trail and when you come upon the junctions, take the course : left, right, left, right. This trail has beautiful views of the water, as well as a lot of trees.
1.8 miles, easy
Fishing, Boating, Kayaking
Cornet Bay, Pass Lake, and Bowman Bay are popular spots that are beautiful locations for boating, kayaking and fishing. Cornet Bay has the largest boat launch (6) where you can get to the islands nearby and the pass. There is a huge parking lot here as well. Bowman Bay has only a 1 boat launch with access to the Strait of Juan De Fuca. Fishing in the pass area you can catch Ling cod, salmon, shrimp, smelt, crab, and bottom fish depending on the season. The park has two freshwater lakes, and Bowman Bay and Cornet Bay are calm seawater inlets that are great for boating. The two lakes in the park are Cranberry Lake and Pass Lake. Pass lake is a quiet fly fishing lake that is a great spot for kayaking as well. This is my favorite safe spot to kayak in the park. Find fishing license information here.
1. Rosario Beach
This is a beach on Fidalgo island on the northern part of the park. This is a small rock beach that is a quiet cove with lots of aggets to collect and other beauties. There are tidepools as well as the maiden of deception pass, a totem art landmark that tells a local native american legend of the park. There is Rosario head, a lookout point that is a short 1 mile nature trail with amazing views of the nearby islands and water. This is one of my favorite beaches in Deception Pass. Rosario Head is a grassy knoll with views that is the perfect picnic spot and there are picnic tables and a small dock in a cove for swimming.
2. North Beach
This is a beach in the southern part of Deception Pass Park on Whidbey Island. This beach is right next to Cranberry Lake one of two freshwater lakes in the park. This is a beautiful sandy beach where you can actually lay out and play in sand when it is warm, one of the only more sandy beaches on the island. There is lots of trail hiking access at this beach as well as epic views of the bluffs and ocean. There is a huge campground in this area and boat launch.
3. West Beach
This beach is on the northern side of Cranberry Lake of Whidbey Island. This beach has views of Deception Pass Bridge and is on West Point. You can see Lighthouse point the hike peak from Fidalgo Island across the bridge from here. There is a large camping area next door for the park.
There are three main campgrounds to choose from in Deception Pass, as well as three primitive boater-only campgrounds. Camping is popular and they tend to be full booked far in advance especially for summer. Reservations are strongly recommended. Call 1-888-CAMP OUT for reservations, or visit the reservation site online. Reservations should be made at least a day in advance. (We recommend making your reservation several months in advance.)
- Check-in time is 2:30 p.m.
- Check-out time is 1:00 p.m.
- Maximum of 8 campers per site
- Maximum of one recreational vehicle per site.
- Pets are allowed on leashes
- Campsites may not be held for someone arriving later
- Campers may stay up to 10 days in the summer, up to 20 days in the off season
- Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Generators must be turned off by 9 p.m.
- Extra vehicles are allowed at $10 per night if space permits.
1. Cranberry Campground
This beautiful campground is hidden back in forrest between North and West Beach. This campground is near Cranberry Lake, hence the name, and is the largest campground in Deception Pass. This means the most crowded but also the most facilities and access. There are 234 campsites between a forrest loop and a lower loop. There are 78 sites in the beautiful forest loop with hookups. The lower loop are more the standard sites without hookup (tent). This campground is open seasonally. There are restrooms, showers, and the spots are close to the beach.
2. Bowman Bay Campground
This is a much smaller campground with only 20 sites all close to the beach. There are only two hook-up sites. There is a restroom and showers inside. This campground is also open seasonally.
3. Quarry Pond Campground
This is the only campground that is open year round in Deception Pass State Park! This is the second largest campground in the park. There are 61 sites, 54 hookup and 7 standard. There are restrooms and showers as well as a kitchen shelter shared and a gazebo. There is also a pond in the campground area.
The Ben Ure Cabin
If you are looking for a wild Northwest epic experience this legendary cabin is for you! This is a rustic cozy two-person cabin for rent on a private island on the eastern tip of Whidbey. The cabin has beautiful views of Simik Bay and Mount Baker sometimes. The cabin is outfitted with a stove, refrigerator, cooking utensils, running water and an outdoor shower. You must pack in your own drinking and cooking water, food and bedding. You can only get to the island by kayak or canoe. Only two people allowed and no pets. Ben Ure Island is small and is also home to several private residences. There are several other cool rental cabins as well in the park that are listed on the reservations link below!
- Peak season (all nights) – $91 plus tax per night
- Shoulder & winter season (all nights) – $69 plus tax per night
- Make Reservations here!