SP Campground Review – Deception Pass State Park, Whidbey Island, WA
A pretty, but crazy busy and tight state park at the northern end of Whidbey Island, WA. NOT recommended for big rigs.
- Site Quality = 1.5/5
Site quality is the biggest issue at this park and the main reason I wouldn’t recommend it for other big rigs. There are over 300 sites all gravel, mostly back-in (some pull-through) located around 3 camground loops** -> Quarry Pond, Forest Loop and Lower Loop. There is a mix of dry-camping and partial hookup (water/electric). All sites are very similar in that they are generally small, VERY unlevel, at odd angles and very tightly treed. Separation is very mixed with some sites that have excellent privacy and others that are located side-by-side with nothing but a log to delineate space. Aside from the very mixed quality the potentially bigger issue for larger rigs is that interior camp roads are narrow, curvy and heavily treed. We were able to squeeze our RV through the Lower loop, but it required me walking in front of the rig and negotiating turns at a snail’s pace. We also ended up with one of the very, very few flatter/larger sites that could actually accommodate us. I would estimate 95% of the sites could not. Out of the 3 campground loops, the two on the west side of Hwy 20 (Forest, Lower) are generally nicer/quieter than the campground on the east side of Hwy 20 (Quarry) which sees substantially more road-noise and has the added disadvantage of no trail access to the beach. However this is really a campground best-suited to tenters or small campers, and given the tight access I would not recommend it at all for bigger rigs.
** NOTE/ there is also a small 5th campground loop, Bowman Bay located on the north side of Deception Bridge, but we did not go see it.
- Facilities = 3/5
Decent facilities. The toilets were clean and showers large/spacious. Main ding is that showers are paid ($0.50 for a 3 minutes). On-site dump station with rather awkward access, plus a few water spigots scattered around the campground.
- Location = 4.5/5
Location is the main reason to come here, and for those without a big rig I can see the draw. Deception Pass covers a huge area with water-front/beach, a large lake, lovely Deception Pass Bridge and ~40 miles of hiking trails. Within the park itself there is also a dedicated swimming area (very popular with the kids) as well as lots of spots for hanging and picnicking. Lastly you are only ~10 miles from either Oak Harbor or Anacortes which has all the shopping & eating you can think of. The only slight ding? You are just around the corner from the Naval Air Station which means the sounds of fighter jets roaring through the air all day long.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
Good location for doggie. All trails and shoreline within the area are dog-friendly, although the park does enforce a very strong leash law (with heavy penalties/fines). Poo bags provided around the park area.
Overall Rating = 3.5
BONUS ALERT = Camp within walking distance to Deception Pass Bridge!
Summary: Talk about mixed feelings! This park has some great aspects and some very disappointing aspects. On the plus side it’s in a beautiful location with miles of hiking trails, long beach-front, lakes, swimming access and great access to nearby towns of Oak Harbor and Anacortes. I honestly can’t complain on any of these. On the negative side the sites are, sorry to say, terrible and best-suited to car/tent or small rigs. Many of the sites are very small, at odd angles or so terribly unlevel that there’s no possible way anything bigger than a car could fit. Ontop of that interior roads are curvy, narrow and heavily treed. The only way we were able to get into our site was by me walking through the loop in front of the rig and navigating Paul through each turn by hand signal. This was despite the park telling us we would have “no problem” with our 40-footer (I called and checked before booking). We also had one of the very, very few sites that was level or large enough to accommodate us. Lastly the campground was crazy busy. I’m sure, being so close to Seattle, this is a prime tenting location for many families. Not only was the campground packed out, but so was the beach and swimming area. Also there was near-constant noise from fighter planes (from the nearby Naval Air Station) right up to past sunset. In the end we really enjoyed the natural aspects of the park. Early morning was quiet, and once you get away from the beach most of the hiking trails are almost deserted, but we would not recommend it to other big rigs and would not personally stay here again.
Extra Info: Stable Verizon signal (4 bars of LTE on our MiFi). Sites cost $20-$39/night, depending on site type. Over 300 total sites, mix of water/electric and primitive ALL reservable on-line. On-site flush toilets, showers (paid), trash, dump and potable water.
Extra, Extra Info – OTHER CAMPING: There is plenty of other big-rig friendly camping around this area including several private parks. If we come back to the northern part of Whidbey Island we will likely chose one of the following:
- Staysail RV Park – This is a city-owned park located right by the waterfront in Oak Harbor with easy access to walking trails and downtown. It’s a basic-looking park, but for $15/night for tenters or $25/night for full hookups, the price and location are just right. Plus it’s got no problem handling big rigs. Click HERE.
- Pioneer Trails RV Resort – If you’re in the mood to splurge and just want a really, really nice place to stay with large site in a pretty setting this is your spot. Sites are not cheap at $36-$49/night, but is a top notch park. Click HERE.
Note/ You can see a pic of each and every campsite at Deception Pass State Park on campsitephotos.com.