Exploring Bay View & Deception Pass State Parks

Two Parks And A Cabin

Deception Pass - Pacific North Wanderers.jpg

This past week we headed north again. We've seen many people share photos of Deception Pass and we also noticed the signs for it on the drive to Oyster Dome from the previous week. We decided it was time to check it out. We wanted to stay the night but we felt that it was still a bit cold for a tent so we started looking for cabins. The only available cabin at Deception Pass State Park was out on Ben Ure Island and required a kayak or canoe to reach it, which we don't have. So we looked around nearby and found one available at Bay View State Park.

In 1925 the Skagit County Agricultural Association donated the original portion of Bay View State Park with the understanding that it would become a state park. The name is derived from the nearby community Bay View. The park provides activities for boating, swimming, beach exploration, camping, and more.

The first European to explore the Deception Pass area was Captain George Vancouver. He originally mistook the island for a peninsula. Upon realizing his mistake he named the island Whidbey, after his assistant Joseph Whidbey who was by his side at the time. The inlet at which he was anchored was then named Deception Pass to commemorate the error. Deception Pass State Park provides over 38 miles of hiking trails, interpretive opportunities, water activities, camping, and more. It's one of the most visited state parks and provides beautiful views of mountains, islands, shoreline, sunsets, and wildlife.

There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.
— Sarah Kay


Bay View


Padilla Bay at Bay View State Park


Positioned on the shore of Padilla Bay, there is a short stretch of shoreline for beach combing. The sound of gently lapping waters, steady breezes, spectacular sunsets and a number of bald eagles are among the amenities to be enjoyed here. The weather is still a bit iffy here, intermittent rain and cool temperatures convinced us to rent a cabin rather than go the tent route. The park boasts several quaint, log cabins that look out onto the water through the trees. The cabins are equipped with bunkbeds and a queen sized bed, table and two chairs, small bench, end table, lamp and most importantly a wall unit heater. Sparse, rustic and perfect. 


Upon arriving at the Park, we read the sign listing our reservation informing us our key would be in the cabin. We parked, inspected our quarters and unpacked. We walked around a bit to get the layout of our surroundings, then decided to drive into town for dinner. Bellies full, we returned and settled in for the evening. 


Rising early the next morning, we were lucky to be visited by a juvenile bald eagle atop one of the trees near our cabin. Calming observing from his out of reach perch, he lingered there for quite some time.  We enjoyed another walk by the shoreline, washed up, packed up and hit the road for Deception Pass...



Deception Pass


Lighthouse Point at Deception Pass State Park


A meandering road into the park lead us to parking lot adjacent to a playground, waterfront with a pier and a trail head. A quick bathroom break and we hit the trail. An elderly gentleman greeted us just as be started up the trail, giving us the "ups and downs" of the trail and assuring us we'd do just fine. It was a friendly gesture and rather sweet. This was a particularly lovely day. It was warm and clear and the sun was out. Here in the PNW we kind of glorify the sunshine. We live in mostly shades of grey for 9 months out of the year, so when the sun is out it is spectacular. 


Feeling extra energized by the weather we roamed over hills and crests, explored rocky ledges and shorelines. The views were amazing. Beautiful, deep emerald shades of the Pacific Ocean against cerulean skies, vivid greens of forests, grass and moss....a buffet of colors. Sea lions played precociously in the swirling currents. Bald eagles and other sea birds circled high overhead. The singing of songbirds, the smell of salt and sweetness of flower blossoms were all ingredients of this perfect day. 


The Pass, we came to see the Pass! As we circled this outcropping of rock we finally arrived  on the side where Canoe and Deception Pass were visible. It's quite a lovely sight. Two Passes with a large rock island between them, the passes are each spanned with a bridge. The bridge is an icon all its own and people come from all reaches to see it. This is a perfect pairing of man made structure and nature. We roamed up and down each trail we encountered. There were very few others hiking and we mostly were able to enjoy the solitude and sheer beauty our surroundings. 


Feeling we had covered most all of the trails in this particular area, we decided to head back and drive to the other side of the park. The other side requires crossing the magnificent bridge we saw from below. There are a number of pull offs before the bridge and we did stop and walk over the bridge. The views are amazing here, the day was clear and we could see for miles. There were a great number of people here taking in the views and appreciating this icon. Once over the bridge we drove on to the rest of the park. This part has much older, giant trees and just has and ancient feel to the forest. We arrived  at a parking lot containing quite a few people and vehicles along a shoreline. We explored just a bit, took photos, and examined a mobile, gray whale skull that the rangers had on display. There was  a raucous group of visitors here with rather loud music. We didn't stay here long. 



Final Thoughts


Deception Pass Bridge


On a sunny day in the Pacific Northwest, it's difficult not to find a lovely spot to be. We are surrounded by beauty. Some places, however, boast more than their fair share of views and Deception Pass State Park is one of those places. Trails, parks, shorelines, wildlife, forests, lakes, and playgrounds are among its charms. The views though, the views are what takes this park to the next level.


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Helpful Information

Bay View Coordinates: 48°29'14.6"N 122°28'48.9"W
Deception Pass Coordinates: 48°23'34.2"N 122°38'50.2"W
Fees/Pass Required: Discover Pass
Wildlife Seen: Bald eagles, sea lions, sea urchins, seagulls, garter snake, banana slugs, song birds, crabs, squirrels, rabbits


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