Hetty Van Dijt, of Vancouver, British Columbia, has visited Deception Pass State Park since she was a child.
“This is our favorite, because of the variety,” she said.
“It’s got great hikes. It’s a great place to take your kids because of the lake.”
“You can go to the ocean,” she said.
Van Dijt isn’t alone in her appreciation of the park. Deception Pass is the busiest state park in Washington state.
Before the Discover Pass system was created in 2011, the Deception Pass Park visitors numbers, which are counted with car counters, averaged at about 1.5 million visitors a year. Now, it’s up to about 2 million, according to Park Manager Jack Hartt.
A Discover Pass costs $35 a year, including fees. A one-day pass to the park is $10, plus $1.50 in fees. According to Hartt, the pass system didn’t hurt attendance at all.
“That very first year, we increased 5 percent,” he said. “That’s Deception Pass. State parks as a whole dropped.”
Hartt said he attributes the park’s success to people wanting to visit the best park available.
“I think people thought, ‘If I’m going to pay $10, I’ll go to the best there is,’ ” he said. “I’m a little biased on that.”
Mary Daley, who was visiting the park from Kent, said she is not deterred at all by the entrance fee.
“I’m more than happy to participate for the state parks,” she said.
Daley said she visited other Washington state parks. In comparison, she said, Deception Pass is very diverse.
“There’s just so much to do here, it seems,” Daley said. “A lot of different choices. A little bit of choices for everyone.”
There are a few places in the state with more traffic, Hartt said. He said a trail in Spokane counts more people because it passes through the downtown. He added that the state’s ocean beaches have more traffic because it’s a highway, and the cars on it are counted.
Deception Pass does not count the people driving through the state park along State Highway 20.
“If you count people who are actually in a park, and they came to the park for the park experience, we are the busiest park in the state,” Hartt said.