With sandy beaches, covered picnic shelters, the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center, a single lane boat ramp, an intimate campground, and trails to Rosario Beach and Lottie Point; Bowman Bay is an ideal starting point for exploration and adventure at Deception Pass.
Until the late 1800s, this calm-watered cove was the site of a large Samish village, one of several that existed near Deception Pass. Evidence of their presence in the area remains in the form of thick groves of Nootka rose that grow atop iron-rich shell middens.
Before receiving its modern name, Bowman Bay was known as “Reservation Bay” due to the period in which it was a military reservation. In the early 1900s, Bowman Bay was one of several modern-day park areas set aside for military use. The area was eventually renamed in honor of Amos Bowman, who was one of the first white settlers on Fidalgo Island. Nearby Anacortes is amalgamation of “Anna Curtis,” Bowman’s wife. At the turn of the century, Bowman had a wooden dock built at the bay in hopes that it would become a major port, but Bowman’s dream was never realized.
There is a large grassy field and a small playground along the south end of the bay. This was the site of a Department of Wildlife salmon hatchery from the late 1930s until 1978. The hatchery was one of several projects completed by the Works Progress Administration at the park during the Great Depression. Eventually the project was abandoned and the fish pits were buried. The only remaining evidence of the hatchery is a large brick duplex overlooking the field that now houses park staff.
The trails in this area are among the most scenic in the entire park. Hikes to Lottie Bay, Lighthouse Point and Rosario Beach are short but rewarding, and offer spectacular views of Puget Sound, Deception Pass, and the San Juan Islands.
The Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center was created by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to honor and document the achievements of the Corps in Washington. Housed in a converted CCC-built bath house, the Center features information about the Corps, historic artifacts, and a video display. The center is open daily April through September and can also be opened upon request for research and groups. For more information about the CCC Interpretive Center, please contact Deception Pass Interpretive Services at (360) 675-3767 ext. 31.