Affectionately called the American Alps, from the breathtaking mountains to the alpine lakes. You won't want to miss Ross Lake or Washington Pass with Liberty Bell Mountain looming above. On the east side of the Park you may choose to drive to the top of Harts Pass (the highest point you may visit in the North Cascades, with the Pacific Crest Trail winding below you) and take in the vistas of the mountain tops from the Canadian Cascades to the north to Mount Baker on the west. OR you may choose to visit the historic town of Winthrop. Strap on those six shooters, you're in the old west. In reality you'll join today's cowboys wolfing down a famous ice cream cone as you stroll the boardwalks throughout town.
Then spend a day with the gentle and magnificent Orca Whales in North Puget Sound. It's truly mystical to be in their company, whether on a whale watching charter, a ferry (Washington's Marine Highway) or up close and personal in a kayak. As a bonus you'll be traveling through the famous San Juan Islands. Keep your eyes open, the sea life is truly amazing and the islands a visual delight. You may even catch a wonderful lighthouse guarding the ships that ply these waters. You won't be able to stop talking about your experience!
Don't miss the opportunity to see Mount Baker (you may even catch her steaming, the sign of an active volcano). The trip is along the North Fork of the Nooksack River then the road climbs to an alpine valley with the breath taking Picture Lake reflecting the magnificent Mount Shuksan. Still higher is Artist's Point with its trails (wonderful for a quick day hike) and views to Mount Baker. If you climb to the top of Table Mountain you may be treated to the view of a jet flying below you.
For more information please visit the
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website.
The trip up Chuckanut Drive is almost too beautiful for words. Maybe that's why commercials are filmed here! Enjoy Padilla Bay Estuary, there is a wonderful interpretive trail along the waterway to introduce you the wonders of an active estuary. Venture on to the Breazeale Interpretative Center with its exhibits and overlook. Drop down through the fertile Skagit Valley and through the fun hamlet of Edison (the oysters in the taverns are well known, Sunset Magazine even commented on the wonderful taste treats here). Then you will start up Chuckanut Drive. Be sure to stop at Larrabe State Park and wander under the train trestle to the Puget Sound carved sandstone tide pools teaming with sea life. Next enjoy the vistas over the unparalleled San Juan Islands. Catch a sunset; you will cherish the memory forever!
Spend another day exploring the wonders of Whidbey Island, starting with the Deception Pass Bridge, an engineering wonder. Picture Thomas Coupeville in his sailing ship, under full sail, passing below you through this narrow turbulent pass. What a trip, hats off to a true adventurer, history comes alive! Venture on to Ebey's Prairie and Landing, full of NW history and unparalleled beauty. Our favorite place to walk and have our spirit reconnect with the earth. The beach is easily accessible and you may walk for miles and may be lucky enough to visit on a day when driftwood has been stacked into wonderful kinetic sculptures, what a treat! Next visit the Fort Casey State Park. Be sure to catch Admiralty Head Lighthouse, its graceful presence has been guarding the inland passageway for more than a century. There are a wonderful wineries and gardens to round out your day.
Don't forget to give yourself a day to visit the wonderful Village of La Conner, with it's quality shops, wonderful restaurants and remarkable museums. The light of the Skagit Valley drew artists here in the 30's and spawned the Northwest School of art, known throughout the art world today. Mona (the Museum of Northwest Art) is located here, along with the Quilt and Fiber Museum (one of ten in the United States), and the Skagit County Historic Museum. Stroll the waterway and visit the main street. Have a fun, relaxed day. Team it with a trip around Fidalgo Island. Enjoy a trip to the top of Mount Erie, a local secret, with views to Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Olympics and the Canadian Cascades.
To round out your northwest experience enjoy a day in Seattle, catch a fish in the Pike Place Market, or visit the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, British Columbia, just across the border (bring your passport).