Drive through Whidbey Island to Deception Pass
|Mileage||47 miles (76 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||1 hour|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||All Seasons|
|Roadways||Washington Highways 20 and 525|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, hotels, pharmacies, etc.||Oak Harbor, WA▼|
3.0 average from 143 votes
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A trip to Whidbey Island immediately evokes that out of town feeling. Discover charming seaside communities, each with it's own unique flavor, five state parks with ample opportunities for recreation, historic sites, and endless water views.
This scenic drive begins in Clinton on Whidbey Island and is a section of the Cascade Loop. You can get to Whidbey Island via a 20 minute ferry ride from Mukilteo. Be sure to head to the upper decks and take in the views. If you're lucky, you'll spot a sea lion or passing whale.
Once you exit the ferry, head west on WA-526. Langley, is known as the "Village by the Sea" and is home to vibrant art community and a hub for performing arts. Explore the many galleries, visit open studios, take in a performance at the Whidbey Children’s Theater, or pack a dinner picnic and enjoy free outdoor theater during the Island Shakespeare Festival which runs from June to September. At Seawall Park (H1), watch bald eagles, great blue herons, sea lions, and otters. Nearby, you'll find many restaurants and shops.
Along the route, you'll notice vineyards taking advantage of Whidbey's micro climate. Stop for wine tasting (responsibly), and meet the wine-makers to learn more about what makes these wines special. Pair your wine with fresh produce from local farm stands, and you have the makings of the perfect picnic. If you're here on a Friday, don't miss the Langley’s Second Street Market and Art from 2:00 - 6:00pm.
The drive continues on WA-526 toward Freeland. South Whidbey State Park (W1) features two miles of pristine beach perfect for swimming, crabbing, and exploring tidelands. Hike 3.5-miles of trails through old-growth forest, boasting trees more than 250 years old. All Washington State Parks require a day use fee or annual Discover Pass. Note a license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting.
Maintained by the Seattle Rhododendron Society, the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens (A1), in Greenbank are a delight. Between mid-April and end of May, the gardens dazzle with colorful rhododendron blooms. Winding paths, relaxing sitting areas, gorgeous flowers, and native plants create interest year-round. There is a small fee for adults. Kids 16 and under free.
In Coupeville, WA-525 becomes WA-20 and you'll see an exit to Fort Casey State Park (H3). Built in the 1890s, the fort was part of the Triangle of Fire, protecting Puget Sound from attacks. A fascinating blend of history and scenery, you can walk on the remnants of the military Batteries, see cannons, and take in the stellar views. There is a lot of open space, perfect for kids to run free and explore. Climb to the top of Admiralty Head Lighthouse which also features exhibits and a gift shop. Hours vary upon season. From here, you can hike a four mile trail along the beach to Fort Ebey State Park (H8).
The ferry to Port Townsend leaves from Fort Casey State Park. This is a great way to expand your trip to include the Olympic Peninsula Loop and the Hood Canal. Adjacent the ferry is Keystone Spit State Park. Walk the driftwood strewn beach, or do some kite-flying and bird-watching. The Fort Casey Underwater Reserve is popular for scuba diving.
The Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve (A2) is a 22-square mile district that includes prairie-landscape, farmland, historical buildings, parks, beaches, and the town of Coupeville, all preserved as a living museum, very much like when Captain George Vancouver first arrived here in 1792. A stroll through charming Coupeville is a must, with it's quaint boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. The town sits along Penn Cove, renowned for its mussels. Many of the local restaurants serve this fresh delicacy. In spring, Coupeville hosts the annual Penn Cove Musselfest replete with chowder tasting, mussel farm tours, cooking demonstrations, kid's activities, and yes, a mussel eating competition.
At the intersection of Coupeville’s Main Street and WA-20, consider taking a side trip to Ebey’s Landing (H5). There's a sandy beach and an easy bluff trail that delivers sensational views. About a mile west of Coupeville is Fort Ebey State Park, which features World War II gun batteries and bunkers from when the park was a military base. Enjoy more than 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, and camping, saltwater coastline along Juan de Fuca and the freshwater Lake Pondilla.
Instead of taking WA-20 to Oak Harbor, consider taking West Beach Road for a coastal island scenic drive. To reach it, turn left onto Libbey Road and West Beach Road is on the right and leads to Joseph Whidbey State Park (W3), another great place for picnics, beach walks, and wildlife viewing. Occasionally, there will be noise from jets flying from nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey. To get to Oak Harbor from here, take Swantown Road to WA-20.
In Oak Harbor, Smith Park (H10) is a nice neighborhood park with white oak trees over five hundred years old. The park has picnic tables and a playground.
you will pass Naval Air Station Whidbey and the drive becomes more hilly and wooded. At the end of Whidbey Island is Deception Pass State Park (H7) which lies on both sides of the beautiful Deception Pass Bridge (B1).
Deception Pass State Park boasts sandy beaches, old-growth forests, and eight islands. Visit Rosario Beach to swim, play in the sand and explore tide pools. Hike the short path to rugged cliffs which overlook Bowman Bay. The pristine water is dotted with rocky islands - home to oyster-catchers and other birds. Kayak rentals are available on site and are a great way to observe the wildlife and take in extraordinary views. Don’t miss the interpretive center depicting the early days of the Civilian Conservation Corps and their incredible impact on the parks we continue to enjoy today. Make it an overnight with camping or cabin rentals. Nearby Cranberry Lake features a designated swimming area and concession stand.
Stop at the parking lot either before or after the Deception Pass Bridge and take a walk under and over the bridge to the other side, featuring outstanding views of the pass and surroundings.
If you don't plan on spending time in Deception Pass State Park, at least stop at the parking lot either before or after the Deception Pass Bridge and walk across, as well as underneath for outstanding views of the pass and surroundings.
Our drive officially ends here, but you can continue the Cascade Loop by continuing on the WA-20 and onto the North Cascades Highway. The Cascade Loop will then continue onto Winthrop to Wenatchee and then onto Stevens Pass Greenway. The entire loop is a long drive for one day, especially if you want to savor the experience.