Deception Pass State Park
Deception Pass is Washington's most-visited state park for a reason. Mysterious coves, rugged cliffs, jaw-dropping sunsets, and a stomach-dropping high bridge make this park a go-to for locals and international travelers alike.
Families can fish and swim in Cranberry Lake. Beach explorers look for shells along miles of Puget Sound beachfront. Hikers can trek through forests and out along bluffs. And birdwatchers fill their field guides with notes. You may see a whale or a family of seals as you gaze on wild waters.
Your inner explorer will delight in learning Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) history at Bowman Bay. The CCC was Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era "Tree Army;" it employed nearly 3 million men and built many of America's state and national parks. An extended stay at Deception Pass will have you peering into tide pools at Rosario Beach, boating at Cornet Bay, strolling on North and West beaches and gaping up at Hoypus Forest, a lowland old-growth forest.
You, your family and your out-of-town guests will be awestruck by the area's beauty and history, and you'll soon be planning your return.
Deception Pass State Park spreads over 3,854 acres, a marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline and 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. The park is actually located on two islands — Fidalgo to the north and Whidbey to the south. The Canoe Pass and Deception Pass bridges connect the two islands, creating a gateway for exploration.
Kukutali Preserve on Kiket Island is the newest state park property at Deception Pass. Co-owned and co-managed by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Washington State Parks, this area welcomes visitors to bask in its old-growth forest, which ends at stunning views of Fidalgo, Hope, and Skagit islands. Flagstaff Point beyond a neck of land is off-limits to people, to protect a rare environment called a "rocky bald," which supports fragile native plant communities. Pets are not allowed in any area of the preserve.
Automated pay stations: This park is equipped with automated pay stations for visitors to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass and boat launch permit.
Please note: U.S. Navy jets from nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island periodically fly over the campground while engaged in local training. Depending on the direction of the wind, their flight pattern may put them above the park, creating noisy conditions for campers. At various times during the day and night, the aviators may engage in Field Carrier Landing Practice for imminent operations aboard aircraft carriers. The park and naval station have been neighbors since 1942. Although State Parks cannot be responsible for the jet noise, we do share visitor concerns with our representatives of Naval Air Station Whidbey.
- 1.2 miles of ADA hiking trails
- 3 miles of bike trails
- 6 miles of horse trails
- 38 miles of hiking trails
The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT) is a 1,200-mile-long footpath through some of the most spectacular and scenic terrain in the United States. It stretches between the shores of the Pacific Ocean in the Olympic National Park and the Rocky Mountains in Montana, connecting the varied landscapes and communities of the Pacific Northwest.
In Deception Pass State Park, you can climb the PNT to enjoy sweeping views from the summit of Goose Rock or explore nearly ten miles of the trail system. You might be inspired to visit the PNT in four other Washington state parks, or even to see it all! Every year, adventurous backpackers from around the world attempt to walk the entire trail. In summer, these thru-hikers will spend an evening camping in the state park before continuing on their long-distance journeys. To plan your trip on the Pacific Northwest Trail, visit at www.pnt.org.
WATER ACTIVITIES & FEATURES
- 450 feet of dock
- 710 feet of dock
- 1,980 feet of moorage
- Boating (freshwater/saltwater)
- Fishing (freshwater/saltwater)
- Watercraft launches (5)
- *New for 2021! Deception Pass welcomes Blue Otter Kayaks to the shores of Cranberry Lake! Kayak, SUP and canoe rentals are available daily from 11-5 through Labor Day. For more information, visit them online or on Instagram.
- Anacortes Kayak Tours - For some of the most beautiful scenery in Washington State, come take a tour with Anacortes Kayak Tours. Tours run from April through September. They are located in the parking lot of the Bowman Bay boat launch. For additional information and tours, visit them online or on Instagram.
- Campstuff Coffee brews up fresh espresso from their vintage camp trailer from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. They are located at the camp loop entrance across from Cranberry Lake. For more information look them up online or Instagram.
- Sister Sister Kettle Corn serves up fresh kettle corn, a variety of beverages and ice cream near the West Beach parking lot. They are open weekends, mid-May through mid-September. Visit them on Instagram.
- Deception Pass Tours - A fun ride awaits you with Deception Pass Tours! This exciting n-hour tour takes visitors on an open-air jet boat through the waters around Deception Pass and surrounding area. See wildlife such as bald eagles, seals, porpoises, and maybe even a whale! Tours are offered daily April through September. A kiosk is located at the south end of the Deception Pass Bridge or for more information and reservations, visit them online.
OTHER ACTIVITIES & FEATURES
- Amphitheaters (2)
- Beach exploration
- Bird watching
- Fire circles (6)
- Horseshoe pit
- Interpretive center
- Mountain biking
- Wildlife viewing
The Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center is located in the Bowman Bay area of the park. The center was originally a bathhouse built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. In 1987, the building was renovated into a museum by CCC alumni and Washington State Parks staff. The center’s exhibits tell the incredible story of the CCC’s work across the state of Washington during the Great Depression.
The center is free-of-charge and is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. mid-May through Labor Day. Group tours and off-season visits can be arranged by calling (360) 675-3767.
The Sand Dunes Interpretive Trail at West Beach includes an observation deck and signage that explains local vegetation and ecosystems. The Maiden of Deception Pass story pole is located in the Rosario Beach area of the park. The carving depicts the story of Ko-Kwal-alwoot, a culturally important legend of the Samish Indian Nation.
Junior Ranger and other educational programs are offered mid-May through Labor Day at the park’s amphitheater. A schedule of planned events is posted at the ranger contact station.
- A playground is available in the park.
- To prevent serious accidents, hikers are encouraged to stay on main trails and avoid straying to the sides.
- Mountain biking is prohibited except in marked areas.
- Fires and swimming are permitted in designated areas only.
- A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington state parks. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Printable park brochure (PDF).
Located in Island County on Puget Sound, Deception Pass offers five saltwater and two freshwater watercraft launches, plus 710 feet of saltwater dock and 450 feet of freshwater dock. All motors are prohibited on Pass Lake, and only electric motors are allowed on Cranberry Lake. Additional information can be found in the Boating Program.
Launching a boat at a state park requires one of the following:
- An annual launch permit (Natural Investment Permit; or
- An annual Discover Pass and a daily launch permit; or
- A one-day Discover Pass and a daily launch permit. A daily watercraft launching permit for $7 and a trailer dumping permit for $5 may be purchased at the park. Annual permits also may be purchased at State Parks Headquarters in Olympia, at region offices, online and at parks when staff is available.
Latitude: 48° 24' 04.6" N (48.401280)
Longitude: 122° 37' 21.3" W (-122.622588)
The park also offers 1,980 feet of saltwater moorage. Moorage fees are charged year-round for mooring at docks, floats, and buoys from 1 p.m. to 8 a.m. No mooring buoys are currently available, however, there are three 30-foot floating docks. Daily and annual permits are available. For more information, call (360) 902-8844.
A boat pumpout facility is located at Cornet Bay.
Latitude: 48° 24' 02.2" N (48.400617) Longitude: 122° 37' 30.2" W (-122.625045)
The park has 172 tent sites, 134 partial-hookup sites, five hiker/biker sites, one dump stations, 20 restrooms (four ADA) and 10 showers (four ADA). Camping is located at three locations in the park, 18 tent sites and two utility sites are at Bowman Bay, seven tent sites and 49 utility sites at Quarry Pond, and 147 tent sites and 83 utility sites are at Cranberry Lake. Maximum site length is 60 feet (limited availability).
In addition, there are six campsites on Hope Island north shore bay, the pay station is near the east campsite, a vault toilet is in the woods 100 feet south of the campsites. The rest of the island is a natural area preserve and off-limits to recreational use. Standard primitive campsite rules apply.
Check-in time is 2:30 p.m.
Check-out time is 1 p.m.
The group camp accommodates up to 50 people. It has a fire circle, a small picnic shelter, flush toilets and a large lawn area for tent pads. It is at the east end of Cranberry Lake, near the park entrance as a temporary location until a new group camp is built. The group campsite is charged a flat rate fee.
Cornet Bay Retreat Center
The retreat center at Cornet Bay can accommodate up to 186 persons in 16 cabins and one duplex. It offers a main lodge and recreation both with fully equipped kitchens. For more information, please visit the Cornet Bay Retreat Center page.
The Ben Ure Cabin at Deception Pass is on Ben Ure Island near Cornet Bay, with views of Puget Sound and Mount Baker. Access is only by beachable human-powered watercraft such as a kayak or rowboat. The modern cabin is 12-by-24-feet in size and features a large deck overlooking the water, as well as a picnic table, fully furnished electric kitchen, full-size futon, electric heat, lights, bathroom and outdoor shower. Visitors must take along their own drinking water to the site. For more information, visit our cabins and yurts page.
Reservations & fees
Service & supplies
Kayak rentals are available seasonally at Bowman Bay by a concession. Firewood is by purchase only.
- Boat rentals
- Park store
Attracted by its abundant resources and protected shorelines, Coast Salish tribes settled the area now known as Deception Pass.
Captain Salvador Fidalgo of Spain explored the area in 1792, leaving behind many Spanish names that are still used today, including Rosario Beach and Fidalgo Island. At about the same time, Captain George Vancouver of England explored the area. He believed the pass was the mouth of the river until his lieutenant sailed around the land to the south, discovering that the adjacent land was actually an island.
Vancouver named the island after his lieutenant, Joseph Whidbey. Having been deceived by the narrow waterway, Vancouver named the waterway Deception Pass.
In 1866, the United States government set aside the land around the pass as a military reservation. A Congressional Act designated the property for public recreation in 1922, creating Deception Pass State Park. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built roads, trails, buildings and log railings to develop the park for visitors.