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Deception Pass State Park is a Washington state park that encompasses parts of Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands and a historic bridge (with two spans) that connect them. The park, which was established in 1923, is named after waterway separating the islands called Deception Pass. The bridge was constructed in the 1930s. The park is historically significant for its association with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which was a federal program that provided jobs to workers during the Great Depression. The CCC built the facilities and infrastructure still used today including the trails, roads, railings, and buildings. The bridge, which was designed in the cantilever style, is also significant in that it represent the evolution in cantilever bridge building in the early 20th century. The park features campgrounds, hiking and interpretive trails, a boathouse that is now the CCC Interpretive Center museum, and boat docks. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.


  • Deception Pass State Park encompasses parts of Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands and is connected by the bridge of the same name.
  • The park features beaches, hiking trails, boat docks and other amenities.
  • The bridge, which consists of two spans, was built in the mid-1930s and is 1,487 feet long.

Local Coast Salish tribes inhabited the area around the pass for thousands of years. The first Europeans arrived in 1792. Captain George Vancouver led an expedition that mapped the the pass and nearby islands. He thought the pass was a mouth of a river but after learning from one of his lieutenants, Joseph Whidbey, who sailed south, that the land was actually an island, Vancouver named the waterway Deception Pass. Vancouver also named the island after Whidbey. Another European, Captain Salvador Fidalgo, explored the area around the same time and Fidalgo Island is named after him (other places were given Spanish names as well including Rosario Beach on Fidalgo Island).

Before Congress designated the area around Deception Pass for the public in 1922, it was first used as a military reservation. In the early 1920s, the government actually wanted to sell the land to developers but local residents prevented this from happening. As a result, the park was created the next year. Until the CCC developed the park, there were no facilities for the people who did visit. The CCC established two camps, one at each side of the pass and built the park's facilities following a rustic style to match the scenery.

The bridge significantly increased the number visitors to the park. Before it was built, the only way to access Whidbey Island was by a boat operated by a woman named Berte Olson. The boat made infrequent trips, mainly due to poor weather conditions. Locals had been calling for a bridge since the 1890s but Berte, who had a fierce reputation (she was called "Little, but oh my!"), fought for years to prevent it from being built. Local residents built the bridge and members of the CCC built the roads leading to it. After a year of construction, the bridge was completed. Its total length is 1,487 feet.

"Deception Pass, Canoe Pass." Historic American Engineering Record Inventory Form - Department of the U.S. Interior. August 1979. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/1cc55042-3c8d-4669-a734-2471763435d5.

"History of the Park." Deception Pass Park Foundation. Accessed February 19, 2020. https://deceptionpassfoundation.org/explore-deception-pass-park/history-park.

"History." Deception Pass State Park. Accessed February 19, 2020. https://parks.state.wa.us/497/Deception-Pass.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

J. Brew, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deception_Pass_Bridge_03.jpg

Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park