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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Birch Bay State Park proves to be a refreshingly quiet location

Getting busted never felt so good.

The park ranger walked into our camp at 10:15 p.m. and told us quiet hours were beginning as we sat around the campfire at Birch Bay State Park. Could we please keep it down?

Rather than feel angry, it actually made us happy. “No problem — we’ll call it a night,” we said, heading off to our RV.

The ranger’s visit represented a sign that society is finally heading toward something that looks like a new normal. As we adjust to the pandemic life, we welcome any enforcement of the rules.

Over the last several weeks, we’ve been traveling around the region, staying at state and national parks. For the most part, it has been remarkably quiet, with half-full campgrounds and very little evidence of supervision as short-staffed parks try to get back on their feet.

And then we came to Birch Bay, the northwestern-most state park in Washington, so close to the border that it feels like you're in Canada. That’s a good thing.

Like British Columbia, Birch Bay is beautiful, with a sweeping view of the Gulf Islands and the coastal mountains in lower B.C.

It’s also one of the nicest state parks we’ve ever visited, with 147 standard sites and 20 partial hookups set in the woods just off of a beautiful beach. Here’s a pro tip: The best sites are in the unpowered sections of the park: They are spacious with peek-a-boo views through the trees of the sparkling bay.

On the water, you’ll find lots to do: fishing, swimming, kayaking and come Aug. 13, crab season begins. If you want to try your hand at catching the tasty Dungeness crab, Birch Bay is a good place to try it, rated as one of the best fisheries in Washington.

But you don’t need to be a sports fisherman to love this place. The view of the bay is stupendous, never better than at sunset, when the big yellow ball slowly sets over Point Roberts on the other side of Boundary Bay.

After an excellent dinner of gumbo with sausage, we spent a lovely twilight on the beach as the skies turned orange, the striking landscape of British Columbia tantalizingly close.

Then we retreated to our fire, where the conversation went on into the night, until we learned that we were in violation of quiet hours. Shhhhh!

Climbing in between the covers of our comfy bed a short time later, we truly appreciated the peace and quiet. Take note: generator hours are between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., a pretty generous window.

The next morning, while scoping out the rest of the campground, we heard John’s name being called. Say what? It was a former colleague, camped with his family and friendly doggie. We enjoyed the quick visit. You’ve got to love those kinds of small world encounters, right?


If you go: Our campsite, No. 29, was excellent. The expansive pull-through was close to the trail to the beach and one of the many park restrooms, complete with coin-operated showers. Many of the campsites toward the north end of the park have partial views of the bay.

There’s a small store within walking distance, though you might want to stop first and supply up in Bellingham, our new home base. Also, if you’re a seafood fan, consider a stop at Barlean’s in Ferndale. We’ve scored some outstanding fresh fish from that tiny market.

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.