It’s no secret we’re spoiled in Western Washington — from mountains to rainforests, marine waters to lakes, farmland to prairies, we have it all. And we know it.
So, it’s no surprise our state parks rival some of the most popular in the country, visited for their stunning views and access to adventure.
To create the ranking, Travel Lens looked at search data from 2020-2022. The study also analyzed the number of state park reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews containing the words “beautiful,” “stunning,” and “breathtaking” to determine which parks are the most aesthetically pleasing to visitors.
Of the reviews for Deception Pass State Park, 61.03% mentioned words synonymous with beauty.
Deception Pass State Park sits on 3,854 acres split between two islands — Fidalgo to the north and Whidbey to the south — about 90 minutes from Seattle.
The gravity-defying Canoe Pass and Deception Pass bridges connect the two islands of the park over rugged cliffs and dark teal saltwater passages.
Deception Pass is widely beloved for its tide pools teeming with sea creatures, long stretches of fresh and saltwater beaches, old-growth forests, abundance of wildlife and over 45 miles combined of hiking, horse, bike and ADA hiking trails.
According to the study, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan ranked the country’s most beautiful state park with 88.89% of online reviews mentioning beauty. Smugglers’ Notch State Park in Vermont (76.19%) ranked second, followed by Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia (65.52%).
Travel Lens also ranked Deception Pass as the fourth most Instagrammed state park in the country, with 119,674 posts on the platform using park-specific hashtags.
Niagara Falls in New York is the most Instagrammed state park in the country with 3,526,461 posts using park-specific hashtags, followed by the Valley of Fire in Nevada (285,304) and Hocking Hills in Ohio (248,287), according to Travel Lens.
Last year marked Deception Pass’ centennial, 100 years since Washington State Parks turned the old military reserve, long the traditional land of the Samish and Swinomish tribes, into a park.
Deception Pass has been Washington’s most popular state park ever since it opened in 1922, with visitor numbers today that rival the country’s most popular national parks.
In 2021, the park’s estimated 3.2 million to 3.5 million visitors rivaled the attendance totals of the 10 most visited national parks.
Deception Pass is an obvious escape for many nature lovers, but it’s also the ancestral home of the Samish and Swinomish, for whom the park represents their treaty-guaranteed “usual and accustomed grounds” for fishing, clamming and foraging.
The park is set to expand by 78 acres this year with a new parcel of land on the north side of the park.