A Day Trip Outside Suburbia from Seattle to Skagit County, Deception Pass State Park and the area around La Conner, WA. Skagit Valley, Washington is beautifully situated between Seattle WA to the south, Vancouver BC to the north, the San Juan Islands to the west, and the North Cascade National Park to the east. La Conner, Anacortes, and Edison are artistic coastal communities in the valley, while Sedro Woolley is the gateway to the North Cascades National Park.
When my husband needed to find a new job last year, our family of 5 decided to consider relocating away from our comfortable existence in the Dallas, Texas suburbs to another part of the country. We love mountains and outdoor activities and with our oldest child approaching high school age, we decided it was now or never if we were going to move to a different locale. My husband wanted to be in a high-tech hub and set out on a software job search in earnest. He came up with… SEATTLE!
Now I’m sure my image of Seattle was like many of yours grey, cold and rainy. I’d visited the city and Olympic National Park’s coastline and rainforest in the late nineties, and it didn’t do much to change that image. However, I kept an open mind, and we visited the area in September to consider a move. We found late summer to be gorgeous and were surprised by the Cascade mountain town feel of Seattle’s Eastside suburbs. We made the move and our transition was eased by one of Seattle’s warmest and driest years on record which has given us plenty of time to explore our new home.
I’d like to share some of my experiences in a series of blogs highlighting destinations that would be worth tacking on to any Seattle visit. These destinations are an easy drive from Seattle and show the beauty of the Pacific Northwest that you might not think of when Seattle comes to mind! So here we go with my first blog – a trip about an hour and a half north of Seattle to two sites in the beautiful Skagit County area of Washington.
Deception Pass State Park & La Conner, WA
On Mother’s Day, we drove north of Seattle on I-5 to make a day trip of exploring Deception Pass State Park and the area around La Conner, WA. Deception Pass is spanned by a beautiful (and windy!) bridge which is lined with steep rock cliffs plunging to clear green water below.
We had a great time hiking down through old growth forests to the rocky beaches along the shore. From the beach, we were able to watch seals swimming in the pass and bald eagles diving for fish and nesting on the cliffs.
Our kids had a blast skipping stones and scrambling on the driftwood and rock stacks near the beach. Kayaking, camping and fishing also seemed to be popular among visitors. There are 38 miles of hiking trails in the park amidst breath-taking views so we are eager to return to explore more of the area.
For lunch, we decided to make the short drive from Deception Pass State Park to the artist colony of La Conner, Washington. This cute town sits on the banks of the Swinomish Channel which is lined with art galleries, restaurants, and other shops.
Other things to do in Skagit County
La Conner hosts the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in the spring and makes a good base for exploring the miles of blooming fields. We missed the tulips but managed to find irises instead. A trip back to see the tulips is on the top of our list to-do next spring!
Skagit Valley is also a watchable wildlife paradise. You can go on a hike with your binoculars through the National Estuarine or embark on a whale-watching excursion. A great place to learn more about Bird Watching, Elk, Whale Watching, and Salmon.
North Cascades National Park has around 400 miles of trails and vast undeveloped wilderness where you can experience nature with minimal human-caused intrusions. From accessible trails to world-class mountaineering, including scenic drives, hiking, camping, nature-watching, relaxation, boating, and fishing, the Skagit Valley has some excellent outdoor activities.
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest contains many scenic areas. The Forest is home to more glaciers and snowfields than any other National Forest in the lower 48 and has more than 800 lakes, mostly in alpine areas. Mountain tops rise from 5,000 to 6,000 feet on the south end of the forest to 7,000 to 8,000 feet in the north. Two tall volcanoes, Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak tower thousands of feet above the forest floor.
And of course, Deception Pass State Park is Washington’s most visited state park.
Skagit County is also home to a world-class children’s museum featuring a 21-foot Tug Boat, Sand Pit, Saltwater Aquarium, Semi-Truck, 10’ Crane, in addition to 25 parks covering 2,050 acres including playgrounds, trails, beaches, and lakes. Super Family Friendly!
From the La Conner Daffodil Festival in March and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April, apple-picking and pumpkin patch season in late fall and into Christmas tree season in December, Skagit Valley offers many farm experiences and fun things to do year-round.
I plan on adding more posts from our other road trips exploring the Northwest from the past year. We are thoroughly enjoying getting to know our beautiful Washington State home and kind of feel like we are living on a permanent vacation. As the fall brings more rain and shorter days, we are clinging to our memories of our wonderful spring and summer road trips to remind us of how amazing this state can be. Time will tell if we are cut our for a year-round residence, but there certainly aren’t many more beautiful places in the US than to Northwest to be sure!
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