Field and Stream

A BALD EAGLE rises from a tangle of bushes and blackberries. Controlled as a hovercraft, it inches upward. A smaller bird floats underneath. Then another. Soon, four eagles stack the sky like totem carvings as parents drill their fledglings on wing control.

Western Washington, which has one of the largest bald eagle concentrations in the contiguous U.S. and Skagit Valley, with its salmon-packed estuaries and streams, attracts the national bird in droves. From mid-December to late January drivers often count 100 bald eagles just along Highway 20, although float trips on the Skagit River remain the favorite way to sneak a peek. The Skagit River Bald Eagle Awareness Team ( provides free talks and guided walks at Rockport’s Howard Miller Steelhead Park.

That’s just the start of the valley’s attractions, which include its tulip festival ( each April, when approximately 300 acres of flowers flood the county with Warholesque color. An hour north of Seattle and 40 minutes south of the Peace Arch crossing at the Canadian border, Skagit entices travelers year-round, and not just because they can ski and sea-kayak in the same day.

Behind the scarlet barns, strawberry fields, and wintering trumpeter swans lies a sophisticated foodie scene. Swing by Samish Bay Cheese’s ( tasting room to sample nettle gouda, savor a crisp, local Samish Bay Pacific oyster, or don an apron at Mount Vernon’s Forte ( during a class any first or third Tuesday. See how all the flavors pull together at the late-July Bite of Skagit festival (, then walk off the calories in the waterfront village of La Conner, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  —AMANDA CASTLEMAN

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Read More About North Cascades

4 Side Trips

Don't Miss

Beauty Full

Vibrant swaths of red, pink, and yellow tulips flood to the horizon ...

Historic Bellingham

A Dixieland jazz band plays on a street corner as I roll down the hill toward Bellingham's Fairhaven district, its red brick buildings glowing in the morning sun.

From our Archives

Bell Ringer

An hour-by-hour guide to bustling Bellingham

Sea Birchin'

ONCE A BURGEONING MIDCENTURY RESORT TOWN nestled on Washington’s northern coast, Birch Bay has quietly receded from the limelight like an ebb tide.

Northwest Old School

A COLLEGE TOWN with true Northwest flair makes for adventure in Bellingham.

Taster’s Choice

An edible tour of the Skagit Valley

Great Outdoors

NICKNAMED THE “AMERICAN ALPS,” the North Cascades offer a stunning backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. Here, you’ll find magnificent 9,000-foot peaks, glistening glaciers, sea-green lakes, and rolling hills eventually giving way to peaceful farmland.

Harvest Home

Washington grows 92 percent of the nation’s red raspberries, and most of them come from this area. With the Salish Sea to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east, the region provides a distinctly Northwest bounty.

Scene Stealer

Chuckanut Drive

Indie Darling

From the Chuckanut foothills to the bay, Bellingham is popular with outdoor enthusiasts. But this medium-size college town is also bursting with indie culture offerings that rival those of big cities.

Park It and Play

IT’S THE PERFECT introduction to the breathtaking North Cascades: a seven-mile loop trail that starts in an old-growth forest of fir, hemlock, and spruce; traverses meadows resplendent with glacier lilies and Indian paintbrush; circles the sparkling green jewel of Lake Ann; and ascends to Maple Pass (6,600 feet) for stunning views of snowclad Glacier Peak and a 360-degree panorama of the “American Alps.”

Field and Stream

FEATHERS, FLOWERS, and a sophisticated food scene, all in author Tom Robbins’ Skagit Valley.

The Wild Life

AN ANCIENT OCEAN FLOOR and sweeping mountain views spread out in front of poet Gary Snyder when he manned a fire lookout on Crater Mountain, high in the North Cascades, in the 1950s.

More Dirt

WEDGED BETWEEN Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., this region stretches from Cascades to coast and includes the little city of Bellingham, the diverse Skagit Valley, and a whole lot of latte.

Find Out More

Please visit our Tourism Partners

Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism


City of Blaine


Skagit Tours


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