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“Park Rangers - Conduct Unbecoming.”

Blake Island State Park
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US$99.46*
and up
Tillicum Excursion
Ranked #111 of 449 things to do in Seattle
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Owner description: Reachable only by tour or private boat, Blake Island has 475 acres of land and features views of the Seattle skyline.
Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Park Rangers - Conduct Unbecoming.”
Reviewed 29 July 2013

I have been to Blake Island a number of times now, and have always had an immensely enjoyable time there - that is until the final night of my most recent visit.

A group of us sailed out to the island, and stayed a total of three nights. The very first night we were lectured for nearly a half an hour straight about the rules (to which we had been adhering and had no intention of treading on). This was slightly obnoxious, but didn't seem outrageous - the ranger was clearly a bit overzealous but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

That night and the few to follow, things got a little stranger as we began to realize that the ranger's only interest was in micro managing and overseeing the actions of each and every camper. He literally stood watch vigilantly inches from seemingly random campsites night after night for long hours making his presence known to the various campers, stepping in at any opportunity to remind people of the things he had already made very clear regardless of whether or not there was an infraction (typically there was not). It all felt a bit like he was punishing people for the wrong they had yet to commit, his attitude bordering on that of what I imagine a prison guard's to be. We even caught him snooping around between our tents and in our packs and bags in the dead of night. Can't think of why that would be necessary.

On our final day, while we were out enjoying the beautiful sunshine on a quick and fruitful sail, the ranger took it upon himself to remove our dinghy from the buoy that we had paid for in full for multiple days and we were clearly still using. Admittedly, there is signage that suggests buoys cannot be reserved with dinghies. However we were confident that the fact that we had consistently been using the buoy and had already paid for it would prevent someone from usurping it. Unfortunately we were dead wrong.

The ranger didn't just untie our dinghy, we learned later that he actually cut the line (likely a form of punishment in his mind) making it very difficult to use. Luckily a number of other campers offered to help ferry some of us back to shore during this ridiculous scenario while the remainder of our party called the parks department in an attempt to locate our missing boat. The ranger informed our party members of the boat's location, and those lucky enough to have been ferried onto the shore hiked to the other side of the island where our dinghy was held captive.

I might note here that a large number of other anonymous campers approached us both on and off shore to complain about the rangers attitude and lend their support. Numerous campers had voiced their opinions on the previous nights, asking if we had run into similar difficulties with the ranger.

Upon arriving at the fabled location of the dinghy, the ranger told the girls to go ahead and row it to the other side of the island if they really wanted it. Here he clearly put these inexperienced rowers in a massive amount of danger without batting an eye by suggesting that they row against the tide, against the wind, and around an island they are completely unfamiliar with - all without life jackets - to our campsite miles away. Fortunately for them, the ranger came around (with the help of an unknown female ranger who likely found the suggestion distasteful) and towed the dinghy back to the sail boat where one other party member and I remained.

At this point the two of us discovered that he had actually cut the dinghy's line, and thus we had no way to hold onto or properly stabilize the vessel. Not wanting to wait for it to get any darker, my friend attempted to load the boat while I held it against the tide (no easy task at this point). The boat turned over before we were able to load it and my friend went into the water with a bunch of our equipment (including our cell phones).

Here you would imagine the ranger on the shore (yes there are two of these fine uniformed gentlemen) would be concerned for our safety perhaps, and maybe even embarrassed of the predicament that his partner clearly left us in. Instead, as we drug the capsized dinghy onto shore, he began screaming at us to get on the ground as thought we had just committed a felony by swimming our boat back to shore. He then threatened us with all sorts of citations and consequences (including going to jail), all for flipping the unsecured dinghy. After becoming soaked, losing valuable personal property, and swimming to shore as the evening darkened, we were disallowed to change out of our wet clothes for nearly fifteen minutes as we shivered on the ground, were accused of having weapons in our pockets (?), had all of our tents checked for weapons before we were allowed to enter them to change (??), and then given ridiculous tickets and citations. These included but were not limited to two $87 tickets for operating a vessel without life jackets - which, keep in mind, were not loaded as a direct result of the dinghy being inoperable due to their initial negligence for our safety and the boats functionality. He topped it all off by telling us we were all expelled from the campsite and asked us to be gone by 9am.

I have been camping all over Washington State and have nothing but fond memories of nearly every trip. Myself and those who accompany me always act with good intentions and with safety in mind on each and every trip we take. Unfortunately for us, this camping trip had a very, very different outcome as a result of ranger Ruppert and his assistant's behavior.

A truly unbelievable and unparalleled experience.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
53 Thank Sean K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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56 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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  • Any
English first
Gig Harbor, Washington
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Blake Island Excursion by Private Boat”
Reviewed 18 July 2013

We were really pleased to experience this wonderful State Park island located in the Puget Sound. The island is accessible only by boat and most people visit via a local tour boat excursion that includes a Native American dancing and salmon dinner. The concessionaire building has in addition to the ticketed Dinner Show a gift shop, bar and restrooms. Outside in the State Park there are facilities including showers and restrooms, camping sites, picnic tables and cooking grills. The boat moorage dock is around 1500', so depending on the size of boats there it can accommodate a couple of dozen moorings at a time. There are 24 buoy moorings around the island as well. To privately dock, its recommended that you arrive early during the peak months of summer between 7:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. as there is no reservation system available. Otherwise you're stuck with a short load/unload time at the visitor dock. The campground/dock hosts have always been very helpful and friendly, assisting in the docking process and making sure that everyone gets registered appropriately. To moore it costs I think about $28 if you do not have the WA State Park Annual Moorage Permit already. Electric is $6 extra. The island is covered with hiking trails, deer and raccoons, beautiful beaches and it's far away from the hubub and noise of nearby Seattle. If you like the touristy Native American dinner show stuff, I hear you'll like the tour group. If you arrive by private boat you can also purchase dinner show tickets. Personally we like the hiking trails and the peace and quiet of the picnic and camping areas. There are nice and clean facilities, a playground for the children and plenty of beach space to roam. This park is far enough away from the more populated areas so as there not to be any small watercraft activity (noisy) and yet close enough for an easy day trip from most anywhere in the central Sound. You can buy food and drinks at the concession building if you want or bring your own picnic. This is a highly developed park island so if you're looking for more rustic surroundings you'd best look elsewhere. There are many island parks to choose from. Travel time from Gig Harbor via the Colvos passage at 15 mph was 1 hour and 15 minutes. Easily half that from Seattle. All state parks require permit access if you do not already have one.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank pressonjh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Quiet Escape into Nature”
Reviewed 8 July 2013

This state park is an island accessible only by boat, about 45 minutes from Downtown Seattle (if you take the unadvertised Argosy Cruise boat to the island). You land at the dock right outside Tillicum Village.

I immediately headed straight for the hiking trails, which lead all over the island. Nearly tame deer were munching on the grass, barely giving me the time of day as I walked past. I didn't bother wearing bug spray, and I still was not bothered by insects. After hiking to the opposite side of the island, I settled down on my beach blanket in a grassy knoll and proceeded to read and leisurely munch on the picnic I had packed.

The only distractions were consistently needing to move, as my shady spot kept turning into full sun, and my mom calling me on my cell phone (yes, there is service, at least if you're with AT&T).

Towards the end of the afternoon, I headed back to Tillicum Village and the dock. While waiting for the return boat to arrive, I browsed the gift shop then enjoyed a glass of wine at the snack bar (there was also appetizers and even full meals available) and watched a raccoon works its way through discarded mussel shells out front. (You also have the option of paying to attend the touristy salmon bake and buffet - lunch or dinner - offered at Tillicum Village, once you're on the island.)

All in all, it was a day of quiet and relaxation with only the sounds of the waves against the shore and the conversations of other hikers and campers.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank Deborah K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Marysville, Washington
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Tillicum village”
Reviewed 6 April 2013

Had a great time. Beautiful weather, beautiful landscape, great food and show. I recommend this trip.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank Shaunie L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Just a short ride away”
Reviewed 24 March 2013

My mom visited Seattle and we decided to take a one of those touristy rides from Tillicum Village. So much fun! There really are no other ways of getting there to Blake Island unless you have your own boat - when we visited it was a sunny day in Summer and so beautiful. This is a definite must-see if you want to experience the water (other would be taking a ferry to Bainbridge Island). It was pricey, so look for travel deals or other coupons.

About Blake Island - it looks like a nice State park and plenty of jogging trails and there are some picnic areas. Really quiet and some nice views.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Al Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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