On April 17, 2022, Deception Pass State Park, Washington State’s most visited park, will celebrate its 100th Anniversary.
With the park being about 90 minutes north of Seattle and just under 2 hours south of Vancouver, British Columbia, it is a popular destination for day trips and long weekends alike. The unbeatable, rugged beauty of this area’s landscape attracts outdoor adventurers all year long.
Visitors flock to Deception Pass State Park because it is relatively close to urban areas, making it easy to visit and enjoy. From its inception, the accessibility made this “wilderness” park attractive to folks from 1922 to today. By 1924, over 26,000 visitors came to the park each year, and today that number easily reaches the millions. The majesty of Deception Pass State Park has stood the test of time and has remained a beloved recreational area for many a Pacific Northwesterner.
Cast your imagination back to the year 1922, when this 3,854-acre marine area and campground officially became a state park. The gentle giants of old-growth trees, many of whom still shade the serpentining trails today, were merely teenage saplings. And those trails we love to traverse through wooded glens and marshy banks, bringing us in jaw-dropping view of the Deception Pass Bridge, were all blazed by the newly formed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Much of today’s terrain inside the park gives a nod back to those days of yore and those men who implemented a non-intrusive ethos that kept the “rustic” and natural design of this well-loved park.
Join in the birthday celebration this summer by taking a road trip and enjoy one, or all, of these specially scheduled events.
Free Events At Deception Pass State Park
Beginning in April and running through the summer are various free events specifically designed to commemorate the park’s anniversary. Entry to the park requires a Washington State Discovery Pass, which can be purchased annually or for day use. Once in the park, there are many free and community-centered areas including beaches, picnic areas, trails, boat launches, and campgrounds.
Pro Tip: The annual Discovery Pass costs $35 per vehicle and the day-use pass is $10 Passes can be purchased at designated kiosks inside the park or at the ranger station.
Past Park Manager Commemoration
Nothing in the park would be as it is if not for the park rangers who have served here. There will be a commemoration ceremony in their honor on April 22 at the Park Administration Office, which includes recognition for all the positive contributions made by the park rangers over the last hundred years. An exhibit of this living history will be presented by volunteers of the park.
Earth Day Restoration Project
Additionally, on April 24th, an Earth Day restoration project is planned by an Americorps team along with some much-needed trail maintenance and clean-up. Keeping the spirit of this park alive for many generations to come, these volunteers will spend the day residing in nature while giving some of the better-known trails a beautifying makeover. Check the Deception Pass Foundation for further details and locations.
All Summer Long Programs Kickoff
On Memorial Day weekend, the park kicks off its many summer programs along with an exploration into the history of this area over the last 100 years.
Some of the summer activities include bird watching, beginning with a morning walk hosted by the local Audubon Society, or a guided forest walk led by park staff. Learn all about the importance of the various tree species and their role in our ecosystem. The guided hike is 2.5 miles round trip happening every Sunday. It is free, open to all ages, and meets at the Cornet Bay Marina.
Arts In The Park Concert Kickoff
Arts in the Park concerts held at the park amphitheater kick off the season on July 2 with music happening every Saturday through August 27. This is a free event with no registration necessary. Come as you are, although you may wish to bring a lawn chair or cushion to sit on – unless you plan to dance the evening away to the rhythms of the American Roots Concert Series. The amphitheater is framed by the bay behind it and the setting sun as daylight turns to dusk, creating a truly magical place in the woods to kick back and enjoy some good music.
Community Picnic In The Park
Head to East Cranberry Lake inside the park on Saturday, July 23 for an old park tradition: a community picnic. In the style of 1922, the celebration will continue with music, entertainment, food, craft vendors, and a beer garden. This event is free and fun for all ages.
Vintage RV Rally And Classic Car Show
Come show off a piece of eclectic history and bring your vintage RV or automobile to the park July 22-24. And why not make a full Pacific Northwest weekend out of it by camping in the park? Tickets to the rally include two nights of camping plus all the rally events and park activities. Take in a whale watching tour with Deception Pass Tours or try your hand at kayaking from the boat launch at Bowman Bay. Rally tickets range from $20 to $125 and may be purchased through Eventbrite.
At Deception Pass State Park there are outdoor Pacific Northwest activities all year round for everyone to enjoy from hiking and camping to boating and cruising, and of course, a good romp or sunset walk on the beach as the sky over the waters of the Salish Sea says goodnight.
Pro Tip: The Deception Pass Bridge may be the majestic symbol for the park, yet it was not originally in the park’s plans. Built later in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, it connects Whidbey Island with Fidalgo Island, allowing over 20,000 cars to make this crossing each day!
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