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Deception Pass State Park

The park is notable for the variety of its land and seascapes; along its borders are wave-tossed, and placid, bays. Rugged, fjord-like shores of rock shelve up to deep forests; across Rosario Strait, to the northwest, lie the tumbled forms of the San Juan Islands; to the southwest, across Juan de Fuca Strait, where ocean sunsets flame in the summer sky, are the rugged contours of the Olympic Range. Eastward are the peaks of the Cascades.

The Deception Pass Bridge, was completed in 1935, after many years of agitation by the residents of Whidbey Island for such a link with the mainland. The bridge has a total length of 1,350 feet, its 22-foot roadway bordered by railed pedestrian walks. Constructed by the Public Works Administration, the span links Fidalgo and Whidbey islands, and connects Island and Skagit Counties, thus increasing the islanders’ market range. Pass Island, a natural support for the bridge at its center, is a cone-shaped rock pier dividing the channel into Canoe Pass and the wider Deception Pass.

The narrow channel was named Boca de Flon by Quimper for a Mexican governor, and so recorded on Eliza’s chart of 1791; it was renamed Deception Pass in 1792, when Captain George Vancouver’s expedition learned it was not a closed harbor. Near the center of the bridge, on Pass Island, a memorial commemorates the naming of the pass by Vancouver, and notes that the channel has a tidal velocity of from 5 to 8 knots an hour, and a depth which varies from 4 to 37 fathoms.


Ca. 1940 view of Deception Pass Bridge, looking south.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

1936 image of the community picnic shelter in Deception Pass State Park. Overlooking Rosario Beach and Puget Sound.

Source: State Parks and Recreations Commission, Recreation and Development, Photographs of State Parks and Park Development, 1933-1938, Washington State Archives