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Deception Pass State Park here in Washington is one of my new favorite places in the world — it’s unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. Going for the first time, I had no idea it had such diverse landscapes! At least on my social media feed, it’s known for its bridge. But there are also incredible cliffs, beaches, wooded areas, and rock formations. You can see so many different views, and they’re only minutes apart. It’s a superb option for couples that aren’t looking to do a lot of driving on their elopement day, as well as anybody just looking for some beauty!
About Deception Pass in Washington
Deception Pass is the state’s most-visited park, and it totally makes sense why. Coves, cliffs, sunsets, seashell hunting, hiking…there’s so much to see and do here, and it makes a truly idyllic place to get married in and start the next chapter of your lives.
This park is located on two different islands — Fidalgo to the north and Whidbey to the south. There are two bridges that connect them, and these are the iconic photo spots I mentioned earlier. You’ll also find part of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT) running through Deception Pass here in Washington.
You can go for the beach vibe, cliff-sides, or forest on your elopement day here. Or, for the best of it all, you can stop and see a little bit of everything. No matter where you end up or what you decide to see, there is no wrong place to be in the park to get married. It’s one of my favorite places for a reason!
Cultural & Native History
Of course, with all that there is to see, it’s also important to acknowledge the true origins of this beautiful land. The Vancouver Expedition mapped Deception Pass in Washington in 1792. Before this, it belonged to various Coast Salish tribes. Among these are the Samish, Swinomish, Skagit, and Snohomish peoples.
Native people have lived in the Salish Sea region for over ten thousand years. From this place, Salish languages and cultures spread throughout the Pacific Northwest. I encourage you to head here to read more in-depth about the Native American history of Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands.
Permits to Elope in Deception Pass State Park
First and foremost, you will need a Discover Pass to visit Deception Pass. In Washington, a Discover Pass gives you vehicle access to state parks and other recreational areas. You can either purchase an annual pass for $30, or just a day pass for $10. There are a few circumstances where you may not need this pass, so be sure to check out all of the Discover Pass information here.
In addition to the Discover Pass to get yourself into the park, you will also need a Special Activities Permit. There is an initial $45 fee to obtain this permit, and you may also incur a couple other fees depending on the size of your guest list (if any). Apply for this permit at least 60 days in advance so that the park has enough time to review and approve it. You can begin the application process for the Special Activities Permit here.
Your Washington elopement photographer will also need to get a separate film and photography permit to be able to document your day. You can work with me on this part of the process!
The Best Time to Elope at Deception Pass
Am I allowed to just tell you “anytime?” Seriously — there’s no “bad” season at Deception Pass. The park is open year-round!
If you want the weather to be less of a challenge or you don’t enjoy the cold, May – October is the sweet spot. You’ll be more likely to have a sunny day, and there will be more freedom to explore without battling the elements. The warmest months are July and August, where it’s usually in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit. The autumn season is especially gorgeous — visitation slows, and the weather stays beautiful and moderate.
In November and December, you’ll see the coldest temperatures at around 41 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as a lot more wind and rain. However, you may also have a more private experience in the colder months. Peak tourism season is those warm months, so you’ll run into fewer people and enjoy a more intimate experience in winter.
Activity Ideas for your Elopement
One of the many, many things I love about being an elopement photographer is seeing how all my couples make their day special. When you elope in Washington, there is so much you can do and see! In my opinion, adding in some activities when you elope makes the experience more memorable for you, and more enjoyable. Whether you want something fun, exciting, and adventurous, or more laid back and relaxed, sprinkling in something personal and unique will make your day so much better.
Here’s some of the things you can do in Deception Pass State Park on your elopement day:
- Hike! There are 1.2 miles of ADA hiking trails, and 38 miles of other trails for hiking.
- Kayaking! There’s nothing better than some serene time on the water. There’s even a kayak tour you can check out here. You can also opt for other water activities like swimming.
- Watch the sunset! From the cliffs, you won’t find a better view to watch the sun go down. This is the perfect moment to decompress with your partner, reflect on the day, and soak in some sweet time together.
- Take a scenic drive! Meandering through Deception Pass in your car will take you across its two bridges, which are 180 feet above the water. And the view is spectacular! I recommend actually stopping to walk out onto the bridge instead of only driving across it.
- Beach time! The Rosario Beach tide pools are super fun to explore. North Beach has great views of the bridge. There are miles and miles of beach here aside from these two I mentioned, so you can’t go wrong!
- Hammock! The old-growth forest here is the perfect place to set up your hammocks and cuddle up with your partner.
- Take the ferry nearby! The ferry is an amazing photo opportunity, and you can enjoy some beers while you take in the views.
- Grill a meal! There are public grills available for use here. You can plan a grilled picnic to round out your day.
Deception Pass in Washington has so many great things to experience. And you deserve to make your elopement special! If you’re convinced that Deception Pass is the place for your elopement, reach out to me here. I’ll help you plan all the details, support you every step of the way, and give you all the tips and tricks I have to help you make the most of it.