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Best Parks on Whidbey Island for Picnicking and Camping

Mary's articles are inspired by her hobbies and love for the Lord. She loves writing, art, photography, crafting, and being a grandmother.

Mt. Baker in background and sailboats during Whidbey Island Race Week 2008

Mt. Baker in background and sailboats during Whidbey Island Race Week 2008

Welcome to Whidbey Island

Hello and welcome - I would like to introduce to you some of the awesome parks that we have enjoyed during the years we have lived on beautiful Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island has campgrounds for every interest and includes dry camping, partial hookups, and full hookups. Some have a water view and some are in woodsy areas: you get to pick. I've included some other fun events and activities in surrounding areas you may want to partake in. Whidbey Island has some of the best fishing found anywhere in the Pacific Northwest: Dungeness crab, all types of clams, mussels, and especially salmon. The best crabbing is right in front of our home, that is just an added blessing.

If you ever decide to take a trip to Washington State, Whidbey Island should be on your list of places to visit. If you are going to come experience Whidbey, be sure to do it during June through September, for the best weather. Fortunately, we do not have as much rain as Seattle does because we are in a rain shadow, but we do have a few gray days. The temperature during those months is very mild and ranges from 60 to 80 degrees in the warmer months of July and August. Whidbey Island is approximately a 2-1/2 hours drive north of Seattle. When driving from Seattle you would take I-5 north towards Canada and take the highway 20 exit which will take you to Oak Harbor.

It's a pretty drive that will bring you to Deception Pass Bridge, where your eyes will not be able to fully take in the spectacular views from the top of this bridge. Whidbey Island is approximately 50 miles in length and has many quaint small towns. The summers on Whidbey Island are so pleasurable and pleasant - as you will find out for yourself.

When you complete the drive all along Whidbey Island, you will reach the town of Clinton, which is the southernmost town. This is where you can take the Mukilteo ferry which will take you to Mukilteo on the mainland, and then onto I-5 towards Seattle. Those are the only two ways to drive onto Whidbey Island, unless you have your own boat or fly in on a small plane. There is a small airstrip, Harbor Airlines, which allows small planes to come and go on Whidbey. We figure that this is the reason why the crime rate on Whidbey Island is so low, hardly any at all. It's because criminals would have a heck of a time getting away really quick.

My goal in this article is to bring you as much information about our beautiful parks, areas of interest, events and other places to stay. Each module features a different park with a link to more information online for reservations and pricing. I do hope you find it helpful, happy camping to you all!

Entrance to Deception Pass State Park

Entrance to Deception Pass State Park

1. Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park has to be the most popular state park in the state of Washington. It features a very large camping area for RV's and for tents, some with dry camping and full hook ups. There are 167 tent sites, 143 utility spaces. five hiker/biker sites, two dump stations, seven restrooms and six showers. These sites are spread out in three different locations in the park. The maximum campsite length is 60 feet.

In the park you can walk to Cranberry Lake, go for a swim (in the warmer summer months), or fish right off the edge of the lake. There is also a walking beach area where your view of the bridge is amazing. Take a picnic lunch and sit on the picnic tables and just have a fun day where the kids can play along the shoreline. You can also fish for salmon right off the shore under the bridge. This is an area where salmon are in abundance when the salmon are running.

At Deception Pass State Park you are close to Fidalgo Island which is just north of the bridge, yet just a few minutes drive to Oak Harbor. Whatever it is you decide to do at this park for relaxation and pleasure: it has it all.

Deception Pass Bridge as seen from the state park beach area below. Great place to picnic and beach comb.

Deception Pass Bridge as seen from the state park beach area below. Great place to picnic and beach comb.

Jet boat that will take you on a grand tour of the straits of Juan De Fuca.

Jet boat that will take you on a grand tour of the straits of Juan De Fuca.

Take a Boat Tour Under Deception Pass Bridge

Each year about a million people come across this iconic bridge called Deception Pass. It separates Fidalgo Island from Whidbey Island. At the top of the bridge, you are treated to some very spectacular and breathtaking views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Mountains. The swift-moving water below churns itself into a frothy mosaic of upwellings, tide-rips, and whirlpools. This turbulence is caused by huge volumes of water passing through the narrow constriction between the islands. At peak current flows the velocity of the water can exceed 8 knots. Deception Pass Bridge celebrated its 75th birthday on July 31st and was built in 1935 by a Seattle construction company. This is an attraction in itself but the state park is located just a few miles down where all the fun begins.

Deception Pass Boat Tours just began its services a few years ago. This jet boat will take you under Deception Pass Bridge, which will give you a whole different perspective of the awesome size of this two-span bridge. You may also get to view orcas and bald eagles, and now they have added a trip to view harbor porpoises. A pod of these harbor porpoises was spotted in April of this year; the owner of Deception Pass Tours was greeted by groups of five to ten just off Deception Island during his daily tour.

They are referred as little "puffing pigs" by the crew because of the sneezing sounds they make when they surface for air.

Enjoy the day boating if you do not own a boat, it's very affordable at $21 a person, it's well worth the money.

Majestic Mount Baker

Majestic Mount Baker

North Whidbey RV Park - close to the bridge, Deception St Park, beaches and lake

North Whidbey RV Park - close to the bridge, Deception St Park, beaches and lake

2. North Whidbey RV State Park

You will enjoy clean and spacious North Whidbey RV park. It features pullthroughs and level and paved sites. There are BBQ pits and a playground and it is very close to Deception Pass Bridge and Deception State Park. This park is still only a few minutes from downtown Oak Harbor for major shopping or restaurants. You can enjoy amazing fishing in the freshwater lake, or walk the beautiful picturesque beaches: your call.

Stay Sail RV Park at City Beach Park, close to downtown Oak Harbor, features 56 full hook-up sites. This park is also next to Windjammer Park which is a recreational area with swings and fun activities for the kids. This park is a large stretch of waterfront featuring picnic tables all along the beach area where you can enjoy a picnic. Or if the weather is a bit on the cool and wet side, there are covered areas and a gazebo where you can take cover. Windjammer park has a wading pool for younger children, fully fenced, and a lagoon for the older children. Summer time is a fun and enjoyable time here at Windjammer Park. There is also a nature walking trail that runs all around this beautiful park and areas for wildlife viewing. They have upgraded this park with new gravel and wider spaces. Now you can even reserve spots, which you were unable to do before, and they now have WiFi!

The Oak Harbor Marina, within a few blocks from the park and features both covered and uncovered morage. This is where the sailboats launch from during Whidbey Island Race Week in mid-July. During Whidbey Island Race week, hundreds of sailboats meet to compete in this sailing regatta which begins at the marina, and sail over to the Coupeville area. As you drive down the Island the race is visible almost from every area along Oak Harbor and Coupeville, with beautiful colorful spinnakers and sails.

This is Island living at its best.

City Beach area next to Stay Sail RV Park and Windjammer Park

City Beach area next to Stay Sail RV Park and Windjammer Park

Cliffs at Ft. Ebey's Landing awesome walking beaches great park!

Cliffs at Ft. Ebey's Landing awesome walking beaches great park!

4. Ft. Ebey State Park, Coupeville WA

Just a few minutes south of Oak Harbor, off Highway 20 you turn off on Ebey Road and drive to Fort Ebey State Park. Very easy to get to and well worth the drive. This 645 acre camping park on Whidbey Island was originally a coastal defense fort during WWII. There are three miles of shoreline on the Strait of Juan De Fuca. There is also a lake, Lake Pondilla, where you can freshwater fish and miles of hiking and biking trails. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains as well as awesome sunsets.

This park has about 40 standard campsites, 10 utility campsites with full hook-ups, and one water trail campsite which is available to those who arrive in watercraft. There is one restroom and two showers, and 100 feet is the maximum site length. There is no dump station at this park. There are also 25 uncovered picnic tables, so reservations are recommended for camping and large group events. Have fun!

Yes, that's me....we're having fun now!

Yes, that's me....we're having fun now!

Historial Admiralty Head Lighthouse is within walking distance from Ft. Casey State Park

Historial Admiralty Head Lighthouse is within walking distance from Ft. Casey State Park

5. Fort Casey State Park, Coupeville

Even further south on highway 20, about 10 minutes from Oak Harbor, is the quaint historical town of Coupeville where you will find Fort Casey State Park. With a historical waterfront, a wharf, and great restaurants, this is a town you will not want to miss. There are also a lot of Victorian homes here and B&B's.

Fort Casey State Park features RV campsites right next to the Keystone ferry, which will take you to the Olympic Peninsula and Port Townsend. These campsites are ideally located because no matter where you set up camp you have a great view of the water: sweeping views of Admiralty Inlet and the Straits of Juan De Fuca. The only utility here is water, unfortunately, but if you have a generator or want to rough it, this is the place. You have a beach you can walk on, and there is also a restaurant within walking distance of the campground. The 467-acre park is first come first served; no reservations can be made ahead of time.

Also within a nice hike is the old military fort, Fort Casey, a lot of military history here. Fort Casey was constructed in 1890 and was the last of its kind. It was a part of the US Army's three-fort defense system protecting the entrance to Puget Sound. This coast artillery post features two historic guns and 10,810 feet of shoreline on Puget Sound.

The other must-visit historical marker within a few minutes walk is the Admiralty Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1861 and rebuilt in 1903. This lighthouse guides tall ships toward the Whidbey Island shore. Admiralty Head was the last brick lighthouse designed by German architect Carl Leick: its walls were built 18 inches thick which could withstand the earthquakes that shake western Washington. But don't worry, the last earthquake we had was really mild and that was years ago.

There are really nice views from every direction at Fort Casey park. Kite flying is a sport that is very often seen out in the fields next to the forts. Great picnic areas with tables, a relaxing place to spend the day while camping at Fort Casey. I know you will really love spending time here.

The other point of interest near the campsite is the Casey Conference Center, which hosts numerous large groups for meetings and educational classes. This park is a favorite of fishermen because you can launch your boat next to the ferry terminal and catch some of the best salmon around. Or if scuba diving is your thing, this is the place to do it also. Lots to do here at this park that is for sure. Enjoy!

Fort Casey features 2 large guns used in fighting off intruders onto Whidbey Island

Fort Casey features 2 large guns used in fighting off intruders onto Whidbey Island

Entrance to South Whidbey State Park lots of fun to be had here!

Entrance to South Whidbey State Park lots of fun to be had here!

6. South Whidbey State Park, Freeland

If you are looking to get closer to nature and want to stay near the water this is the place. South Whidbey State Park features has nice campsites with picnic areas and barbeque pits. South Whidbey's best attribute is its forest, over 250 years old, featuring huge cedars and Douglas-firs. This has to be one of the finest tracts of old growth still remaining on the Puget Sound shoreline, and was very close to being logged in the 1970s. Today a trail weaves through the park, named after the couple responsible for stirring up support to protect the forest.

You are bound to find things to do while relaxing and taking in nature and the ocean scenes. Like taking a hike on an extensive trail through forest areas, or take the high bluff trail down to a secluded and sandy beach. Whatever your interests you will love South Whidbey.

This park is near the Clinton Ferry terminal which will take you across to Mukilteo, then on to Everett and I-5. This would be the other way to get onto Whidbey Island coming from the south end of the Island.

Orca breaching - an awesome sight!

Orca breaching - an awesome sight!

Island County Fairgrounds - Langley WA

Island County Fairgrounds - Langley WA

7. Island County Fairgrounds, Langley

There are RV hook-ups, tent camping, and showers at the Island County Fairgrounds in Langley. It is within walking distance of the quaint and peaceful town of Langley. The annual Island County Fair runs from August 15 - 18th. We've never stayed at this RV park, before so I cannot really comment, but if you want to visit Langley or the Island County Fairgrounds and not stay in a B&B or hotel this is an ideal location.

Jet skiing is a very popular sport around these waters!

Jet skiing is a very popular sport around these waters!

Tulip Festival

When traveling to Whidbey Island in the springtime, be sure to stop in at LaConner near Mt. Vernon off of Highway 20, only about 45 minutes drive from Whidbey Island. I suggest stopping in at the Skagit Valley Fairgrounds and tour the beautiful fields of tulips, in every color and style. This is an annual event you will not want to miss. The festival lasts the whole month of April, so be sure to check the website for more information, and don't forget to bring the camera; I guarantee you will get to take some awesome photos of colorful tulips.

Things to Do and See, Places to Play and Have Fun!

  • Skagit Tulip Festival
    The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a tourist destination in Northwest Washington State. Each year more than 1 million visitors come to see over 300 acres of brightly colored tulips. This site provides information about festival events, places to sta
  • Island County Fair - Langley Wa
    Ever been to a County Fair, you know there is so much going on and the entertainment is always first class. Enjoy!
  • Greenbank Farm Whidbey Island, Washington
    Greenbank Farm - Producing Fine Wine Since 1904, gift shops, art gallery and then you can feed the geese at the large pond.
  • Whidbey Island Race Week 2011 (17th - 22nd of July)
    Enjoy a fabulous time watching the hundreds of sailboats that come from all parts of the world to compete in this awesome regatta. Great photo opportunities.
  • Penn Cove Water Festival
    The Penn Cove Water Festival features annual tribal canoe races, Native arts and crafts, demonstrations, storytelling, dance performances, artist demonstrations, authentic Native foods, children's activities, and exhibits and displays.
  • Whidbey Playhouse
    Great plays to see at Whidbey Playhouse, check in with the website to find out what the latest one will be. Hopefully you can catch one while visiting Oak Harbor.