A few weekends ago, we spent the weekend at Fort Ebey State Park, located on Whidbey Island in Washington State. I thought I had been there before as a Girl Guide, but nothing was memorable for me so now I’m not so sure. In any event, it was a new camping location for all of us and it didn’t disappoint.
Here’s a huge PDF map – it’s got lots of info on it.
We arrived Friday after a short wait at the border and a pretty drive. Fort Ebey is about a third of the way down the island, and is the most westerly point of the island. You access from the north end with a two span bridge at Deception Pass. It was built in 1935, after lots of political dealings, including the operator of the ferry (a fiery female boat captain named Berte Olsen) having a lot of influence in stalling the project for quite some time. Fun fact: it cost more to paint the bridges in 1983 than it cost to build them in 1935. (thanks Wikipedia!) The bridge makes for some pretty incredible pictures, even in the foggy misty-ness. (It was beautifully sunny on our way down but we decided to stop on our way back, when it was all misty, so we didn’t capture the sunny and clear shots).
Fort Ebey State Park is the most western outcropping of Whidbey Island and is apparently 645 acres of park. It was once owned by the military, and in World War II, served as a coastal defence against attack on the Puget Sound. It housed a gun battery with two six inch guns. While the guns themselves have been removed, the concrete bunker and a few other small buildings still exist, and they are super creepy and fun to poke around in.
At the Park:
Like most State Parks, it is well kept, well maintained, and keeps firewood for purchase at the gatehouse. The campsites are pretty private, well treed and shaded, with 50 sites in total, 11 of which have power and water hookups. There’s some nice hiking and trails to check out, some of which are bike friendly, and some of which don’t allow bikes. We hiked a bluff trail from the campsite to the a beach, probably a few kilometres long with a few steep sections and switchbacks. We chose a site based on friend’s recommendation that was tucked in a bit, but on the bluff with easy access to the trails.
Fort Ebey is also a hotbed for paragliding and kiting, with a wide, grassy knoll overlooking the water and some seriously crazy gusty winds.
In the Area:
Usually when we go camping we don’t really leave the campground. There’s often enough for us to do, and we’re usually there for only a few days. For this trip, we tacked on an extra day and so on the Sunday spent the day checking out the surrounding area, including Oak Harbour, Coupeville, and a pretty cool place called Greenbank Farm, where on the day we were there happened to have the Whidbey Island Kite Fliers Club with a “build your own kite” activity (pictured above, the kite Kale made miraculously not ripping to shreds in the high winds back at camp). There was lots we could have kept going and exploring, but we were trying to camp and not tour.
Fort Ebey was a really lovely camping experience for this family. Just far enough away to be a fun destination, but still close enough that it was suitable for a weekend getaway. There was lots to see and do in the nearby towns and trail systems, and we will definitely be back. This park is suitable for newbies with flush toilets, pay showers, and, if you’re RV-ing it, power and water hookups. Firewood available for sale on site. I highly recommend Fort Ebey State Park as a great camping with kids destination.
You can reserve a site through the online reservation system. Also: take note BC Parks: Washington State Parks sent me a follow up survey after our visit. Very classy. We’ll be back.