Deception Pass Fifth In US

This is not much of a surprise to us islanders, but now everyone else gets to know. Deception Pass is a great park. Now, there’s even a number for it: fifth in the US for state parks. Way to go Nature. Way to go to the folks who made the bridge happen. Way to go WA State Parks for stewarding it. Way to go, but have you gone there?

Deception Pass can be like our Grand Canyon. Tourists drive to the bridge. Look at it and down from it. Take a selfie or six, then drive away to the next Instagram destination. They’re missing a lot.

Deception Pass Bridge can also be our bottleneck. Two lanes of traffic, no ferry (anymore), and sited near Whidbey’s biggest city. How many commuters curse it (and the tourists who step off the sidewalk) without looking at the view? It’s narrow. Trucks are wide. It’s a bad place for a fender-bender, or worse. Concentrate and stay in your lane, possibly as you and hundreds of thousands of others navigate an old twisty-turny road.

Or, as one commuter put it (paraphrased); “I used to complain about the drive from Langley to Mt. Vernon, but then I realized that twice a day I get to enjoy a ride that people come to from around the country. They drive here to drive a route I get to drive almost every day.”

Deception Pass is more than a bridge. The bridge is the easiest thing to photograph, but the Park is beaches, trails, campgrounds, Cranberry Lake, Bowman Bay, Rosario Beach, retreats, – enough things that the number of people who’ve actually seen and used it all is probably very small. The Rangers and the its volunteer friends are the best bets for what’s going on there. (Make sure you have your Discover Pass, if you intend to drive there.)

The Park is not just for sunny Saturdays in August. Some locals even avoid it and the summer crowds, and show up in the other seasons where there are fewer humans and more wildlife.

If you do want to see the tides surge through the Pass, check the NOAA current charts. Eight knots may sound slow compared to a car, or even a jet ski; but try paddling against that current. Sailing isn’t easy either thanks to narrow channels and tall rock walls that block and swirl the wind. And yet, watch the water for seals and whales that deal with such things.

The story was posted to Travel Lens in November, 2022. USA Today pointed it out in December, 2022. The Seattle Times‘ article is from January 19, 2023. The locals are the first and last to know. As for our neighbors, well, this is Washington State that is naturally beautiful enough that we have an abundance of National Parks. (Hmm. If we didn’t have a bridge going through it, would Deception Pass have some national status, like Ebey’s Landing and Prairie? Of course, the Bridge is one reason the Park is so accessible.)

Check Instagram, Facebook, whatever major social media you prefer, there’s a chance there will be a silhouette of the Bridge at sunrise or sunset, weather permitting. It’s enough to make one wonder if there’s a traffic jam of tripods some days.

(Personal plug: As part of my ten-year photo essay of Whidbey Island I produced Twelve Months at Deception Pass as photos and as a book. Not just photos of the Bridge.)

So, now the more of the world knows more than they did before. Should we tell them about the rest of the parks, or even just the scenic drives; or should we try to keep those as secrets for ourselves? It’s probably too late. We live in a nice place, and sharing is nice, so we might as well be nice about it. But please, let’s hope people stay on the sidewalk.

PS Congratulations to the Park, which is celebrating its centennial. Nice timing.

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