Mystery Bay State Park

The state of Washington has 149 state parks, and one of the smaller ones in the state is Mystery Bay State Park on the west side of Marrowstone Island in Jefferson County off the Olympic peninsula. The island is northwest of Seattle near Stanwood, and the contact address for the park is: 10541 Flagler Road, Nordland, Washington, 98358.

During the prohibition era, bringing liquor by boat through the remote northwest Washington waters of Puget Sound from Canada to the island became a lucrative business for smugglers. One of their favorite hiding spots was Kilisut Harbor, located between Indian Islands and Marrowstone, where they could evade Coast Guard boats. A small bay close to the end of the harbor had trees that hung over the water making it easy to hide their boats there. The Coast Guard classed their usual disappearance as mysterious, so the cove became known as Mystery Bay.

Mystery Bay State Park is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the winter, and summer hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The majority of visitors to Mystery Bay State Park are boaters, but nature lovers enjoy the out-of-the-way area when they just want to spend a peaceful day on a beautiful island without hundreds of cars and crowds of people. With only enough parking area for 25 vehicles, the park is never congested. The area is a wonderful spot for bird watching or beachcombing. If the day is clear, you can see a magnificent view of the Olympic Mountain Range, and just turn around to get an awesome view of majestic Mount Baker.

When the tide is low, you can find oysters and clams on the beach, and if you wade out in the water a short way you will have some good crabbing. There are 10 acres to explore at this marine park, and you may see deer, elk, rabbits and otters as you wander around. Look for eagles, gulls, pigeons, doves and wrens, and go to the shore to watch seals and sea birds and find seaweed and starfish. The cedar and Douglas fir trees in the park are lovely, and there are plenty of berries as well.

The park has one kitchen shelter with no electricity, four picnic tables without shelters, and you can cook the fish you catch at one of the three fire circles. You may want to bring bottled water to drink because the drinking water at the park is high in sodium. If you would rather not pack a lunch, there is a general store at Nordland less than one mile from the park where you can purchase whatever you need. There are two vault toilets, a port-a-potty dump station and a sewage pump out station located in the park.

A one-lane launch ramp with a gentle slope is located north of the floats. The saltwater shoreline offers 683 feet of moorage float space and seven mooring buoys. You can moor watercraft at docks, floats or buoys overnight or even yearly. Launching watercraft, parking vehicles and trailer dumping require a daily permit. Purchase daily permits at the park, or you can obtain annual permits from the State Parks Headquarters in Olympia. For more information about permits, call 360-902-8844. All facilities at the park are on a first come, first served basis, and the charge for fees changes periodically. To check on current rates, call 360-753-5771.

Mainly a marine recreation area, Mystery Bay State Park has numerous older wooden sailboats permanently moored there. You will find great freshwater fishing at the park as well as diving and saltwater boating with your personal watercraft.

The Pacific Ocean keeps the temperatures at the park moderate all through the year, and winter temperatures range from the mid 30s to the high 40s. In this area, the average annual precipitation is 51 inches, and the winters are cloudy, cool and rainy. Some of the winter precipitation may be in the form of snow. Summers are usually dry and warm with a slightly wider variation in temperatures. They normally range from the low 50s to the mid 70s during the warmer months.

You may want to visit Marrowstone Island to enjoy the views and country life there and spend some time at the much larger Fort Flagler State Park. However, if you are a boating enthusiast and want to spend some time on the water, you should enjoy a day at the island’s Mystery Bay State Park.