Six-year-olds Tilly Gignoux, left, and Kaylee Martin, right, construct a chair from sand at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park on Thursday afternoon.
(Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times)

Six-year-olds Tilly Gignoux, left, and Kaylee Martin, right, construct a chair from sand at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park on Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times)

Deception Pass State Park prepping for peak season

An unusually sunny stretch this week almost felt like a test run for summer at Deception Pass State Park as rangers prepare for an even bigger peak season than in years past.

Park manager Jason Armstrong said the number of visitors last year was about 120 percent of what it had been in previous years at the most-visited state park in Washington.

“We will probably be at that or more this year,” Armstrong said.

Some areas of the park that would not usually be busy midweek were packed last year, he explained.

“That’s the difference that we were seeing last year compared to previous years.”

The park draws millions of visitors each year to its rugged coastline, iconic bridge, forested trails and panoramic views. Campsites usually fill quickly, and almost all spots were taken earlier than usual this year after a computer glitch opened up all the campsites on April Fools Day instead of releasing them in stages, Armstrong said.

Campers may notice that two sites are closed. Strong winds knocked down many trees throughout the park, and sites 17 and 18 lost all of the trees around them, Armstrong said. Park staff members are waiting for the grass to grow before opening them back up.

It took staff and volunteers six to eight weeks to clear out the trees and branches.

“I think that ended up taking all my staff, and it’s still not done yet,” Armstrong said of the fallen giants. “We can’t touch Bowman Bay yet.”

Some of the wood was turned into firewood and more will be turned into split-rail fencing, he added.

Armstrong said the park is looking forward to more volunteers coming back this summer. There are still volunteer positions available, and the park also offers some internships. Those interested should contact the Deception Pass Park Foundation for information.

The park is also looking at ways to bring more interpretive programs safely back as well at the summer concert series. More information about the music program should come out in May, according to staff.

“I’m always excited about the peak season,” Armstrong said. “Hopefully the (COVID) numbers will keep going down and there will be some return to normalcy.”

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