From Seattle: A Day Trip to Deception Pass State Park + Hiking Oyster Dome

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An ideal day trip from Seattle, two of my favorite activities located outside the city are visiting Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island, and hiking Oyster Dome south of Bellingham.  It’s once you get out of Seattle and head north, that Washington opens up into incredible landscapes.  Mountains and hills towering over you, open fields of green pastures with cows and horses, incredible state parks, and winding roads taking you between the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountains on the other.

While visiting Deception Pass State Park and hiking Oyster Dome can easily be done in a day trip, I am going to be giving you two different itineraries if you have more time and want to spend the night in Chuckanut, Washington.


Itinerary 1:  Seattle – Deception Pass State Park – Oyster Dome – Overnight in Bellingham – Seattle

Visiting Deception Pass State Park from Seattle

Located on Whidbey Island, Washington, Deception Pass State Park is nearly 80-miles away and will take an hour and a half to reach by car.  Deception Pass is a strait marked by Deception Bridge which connects Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island.  To access the park you need to purchase a Discover Pass which you can purchase ahead of time.  If you visit the north or west beach of the park (which I recommend), you can purchase the Discover Pass for cheaper at the entrance.  The cost at the entrance is $10 for one day or $30 for the year.  (I have entered the park multiple times when there wasn’t anyone at the entrance selling or looking for Discover Passes.  You can get in no matter what, but there are park rangers that will come through the parking lots checking for passes).

To get to the north or west beach of the park, coming from Seattle you’ll cross Deception Pass Bridge onto Whidbey Island and take a right into the park (there are signs).  You will be passing multiple entrances to Deception Pass Park before coming to the bridge and then the entrance that will ultimately take you to the north or west beach.  There are signs all over the park that are easy to follow.

Before getting to Deception Pass, you’ll pass through a town called Anacortes, Washington.  Here there is a small “shack” of a restaurant – The Shrimp Shack – where you can stop for fresh seafood before continuing onto the park.  While you can sit at one of the many picnic benches outside of the restaurant, I prefer to take my food to go.  At the park, there are multiple picnic tables (especially on the west beach) where you can sit and enjoy your food.

There are a lot of activities to do in and around the park, to start, here’s a list of things to do in the area.  Do note that the Oyster Dome hike is an hour further north from Deception Pass.  If you plan to stay at the park for a long time be mindful of sunset so that you aren’t hiking in the dark.  If needed you can head to the cabin and hike Oyster Dome in the morning before heading back to Seattle.


Hiking Oyster Dome from Deception Pass State Park

From Deception Pass head 30-minutes further north to the Oyster Dome trailhead.  The Oyster Dome trail is an out and back trail rated as moderate.  The hike is around 8-miles gaining 1,965-feet.  You can park across from the trailhead on the side of the highway for free, where you’ll take the “PNW Trail” up until the trail splits off to “Oyster Dome”.  If you want to hike to the top of Oyster Dome but feel that 8-miles is too hard, there’s a shorter trail from the Samish Overlook.  From the Samish Overlook, the hike is only 3.6-miles and is still rated as moderate.  To hike Oyster Dome you need a Discover Pass, the same pass that you need for Deception Pass.

Once you make it to the top of Oyster Dome your gift is the incredible sights of the islands in the Pacific Ocean.  Ideally, you’ll make it on a clear day where you can see clear out to the San Juan Islands.


Spending the Night in Bellingham

When I visited Bellingham, I found a cute and unique Airbnb located off Chuckanut Drive south of Bellingham.  It’s a small cabin in the woods, offering seclusion and privacy.  Plus it comes with a hot tub which is perfect after your long hike!  You can find the Airbnb by searching “Chuckanut Forest Studio (near trails + hot tub)”.

If you choose to stay at the Airbnb mentioned above, I would recommend getting groceries at a nearby grocery store in Bellingham and cooking in the studio.  It has a complete kitchen and a grill to use.  If you’d rather get take-out, or eat out, I’d recommend Chuckanut Manor Seafood & Grill or Taylor Shellfish Farms.


Itinerary 2:  Seattle – Oyster Dome – Deception Pass State Park – Seattle

If you don’t have time to spend the night and you’re simply looking for a short and sweet day trip from Seattle, I’d recommend the route to change a bit.  Start with a morning hike at Oyster Dome south of Bellingham.  Once you’re done I’d recommend getting food from one of the restaurants mentioned above before driving south to Deception Pass.  After you’re done with Deception Pass, head back to the city.  If you choose this route, please read the above sections detailing what you need to know for each part of your day.


Renting a Car

If you need to rent a car in Seattle to make this trip, I like to use Enterprise for their customer service, car availability, and competitive pricing.  I also like to search on QEEQ to compare all of the different rental agencies in the area and ensure I’m getting the best price!


For more day trip ideas from Seattle, check out these posts:

A 2-Day Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Woodinville Wine Tasting

How to Spend the Day Solo in Victoria, BC

Exploring Lena Lake, Hama Hama Oyster, and Bainbridge Island

24 Hours in Washington’s Bavarian Village – Leavenworth

The Best Hiking Trails Near Seattle


For more information on Deception Pass and Oyster Dome and ideas on things to see and do, check out my Instagram page/highlight reel “Seattle” or “Washington”.  Or search the hashtag #ppinwashington


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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