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On The Loop: Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island

As you continue westward on Highway 20, the looming peaks of North Cascades National Park give way to rolling hills, acres of farmland and a series of small communities, including Birdsview, Hamilton and Lyman. Next, you’ll reach the town of Sedro-Woolley, known for its logging history which is visible via the downtown's collection of life-size wood carvings. The town is also known for its downtown shopping and dining scene — several new boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and breweries have opened within the past year! Consider camping in style (“glamping”) or more traditional accommodations at Willowbrook Manor, just outside of town. Guests enjoy luxe accommodations, gardens, fields of chamomile and the popular “tea and tour” program — hop on a cruiser and explore the area’s country roads! Visit Sedro-Woolley during Independence Day week and join locals at Loggerrodeo. Check out logging and chainsaw-carving contests, the rodeo, bluegrass jubilee, and fireworks.

The next community you’ll encounter is Burlington, located at the crossroads of Interstate 5 and Highway 20. It’s a great base from which to explore many recreational activities within easy driving distance. Visit during Berry Dairy Days in June, celebrating local berry harvests and dairies. There is also an exceptional Visitor Information Center in town, so pop in to get guidance from the locals on the many things to do nearby!

Take a quick jaunt south to the town of Mount Vernon. The historic community sits at the juncture of several rivers and sloughs, an irresistible attraction for an assortment of bird species — have those binoculars handy! The riverfront and adjacent downtown are ideal for exploring on foot and is featured on the National Register of Historic Places. Mount Vernon is also home to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which draws guests from around the world each spring!

Continue driving deeper into the Skagit River Valley, where fields are dotted with quaint farmhouses and a plethora of heritage barns. The Skagit Valley is home to the largest commercial flower bulb industry outside of Holland. Beginning in March and continuing through May, the entire valley is one huge carpet of blooms, with a backdrop of dramatic views of 10,781-foot Mount Baker and the North Cascades.

Nestled between the Swinomish Channel, the Skagit River Delta and the Salish Sea, La Conner is both fishing village and artists’ colony. The community is known for its architecture, adorable waterfront shops, the renowned Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum. With views of the water and Mount Baker — all tucked within acres of fields between Mount Vernon and Anacortes — your final destination in this segment of the Cascade Loop.

Anacortes is very much a maritime community — its historic downtown resides along the waterfront and is the heart of Fidalgo Island. Explore a wealth of funky shops and boutiques. The seafood here is outstanding so be sure to dine out and order the fish! Build some extra time into your itinerary to take a whale-watching tour with Island Adventures, where excursions lead to sightings 95 percent of the time! Rent a kayak from Anacortes Kayak Tours and paddle through saltwater while taking in views of the abundant sea and birdlife!

Anacortes is also known as the gateway to the San Juan Islands—Lopez, Orcas, San Juan/Friday Harbor. Make sure and maximize your proximity to these beautiful neighboring islands by adding some extra time for a San Juan Islands excursion — just book your ferry ahead of time and add this uniquely memorable side trip to your trek.

Next region of the Loop -- Whidbey Scenic Isle Way!

Skagit Valley Visitor Services

Current Conditions

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Heritage & History

The Skagit River flood plain is some of the richest agricultural land in the Northwest. Coastal/Northern Straits Salish people fished, hunted and harvested shellfish and berries.

Local tribes initially traded pelts for supplies. By the 1820s non-native traders and trappers crossed the Cascades and settled, resulting in trade with the Hudson Bay Company, diminishing native trade routes. In 1855, the Point Elliot Treaty was signed and many of these tribes moved to the Swinomish Reservation on Fidalgo Island. In spite of challenges, native people maintain active communities throughout the area today. Look for new interpretive signs, covered pavilion and restrooms at the Kukutali Preserve in La Conner:

In 1791, Spaniard Juan Francisco de Eliza charted Rosario Strait, naming it Canal de Fidalgo. British Captain George Vancouver explored Rosario Strait in 1792 and named Deception Pass. Mining, timber and logging contributed greatly to the development of the area during this time. Agriculture has been the main industry for the Skagit Valley since the late 1800s. Today’s massive flower bulb industry began as an extension of the early flower production of Mary Brown Stewart who started growing tulips with bulbs from Holland in 1906. 

Skagit Valley Adventures

Wildlife & Birding

There is a LOT of wildlife to view here: snow geese, trumpeter and tundra swans, elk, eagles, falcons, ducks and owls to name a few.

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Whale Watching

Few things are as moving as witnessing whales up close and personal. Take a whale watching tour and have a pretty high likelihood of seeing gray, mink or orca whales, depending on the season.

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On the Water

Get on the water to get a really different perspective. Take a whale watching tour out of La Conner or Anacortes. Explore on kayak in Anacortes!

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Family Farms

Farms are wildly diverse here! Shellfish, blueberries, dairies, cattle ranches, cabbages, and of course flower bulbs!

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Historic Barn Tour

Explore 58 barns on the state Heritage Barn Register--amazing testaments to the past and today's farming culture.

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Nothing says community like a small town American festival. Visit Sedro-Woolley's

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Side Trip: La Conner
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Amazing Food

Because there are so many local sources of produce and shellfish, it's no surprise that the food is insanely fresh and amazingly delicious here.

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There is huge variety in the types of hiking here. Explore Washington Park or Mt. Erie in Anacortes, take a moderate walk around Baker Lake, or something steeper like Sauk Mountain

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EV Charging Stations
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Images from Skagit Valley and Fidalgo Island

Anacortes Marina at Dawn, Photo by Andy Porter

Upcoming Events in Skagit Valley and Fidalgo Island

Stories from Skagit Valley and Fidalgo Island

Salmon Viewing Locations on the Loop
Fall marks the season when Salmon can be seen in the waterways along the Cascade Loop. Check this list for some of our favorites! Read More >>>>
Watchable Wildlife - Blue Heron
As you are driving along the waterways of the Cascade Loop, be on the lookout for the majestic Great Blue Heron. They are regularly spotted wading in shallow water, patiently watching for small fish or frogs, their most common meals. Read More >>>>
Top 10 Fall Color Corridors on the Cascade Loop
The thing that folks love most about the Cascade Loop is its diversity of views throughout the byway, and fall colors are no exception. The colors are wild and vibrant and showcase a range of colors and textures as you explore the route. Travel counter-clockwise for the best views and know that as always, Mother Nature sets the schedule for when and how the colors change. Typically however, travelers can expect peak colors from the last week of September through mid-October. Special note: due to COVID-19 most Autumn public events… Read More >>>>
Birding - Bald Eagles
Symbolized as the National bird of the United States in 1782, Bald Eagles are unique to North America and they can be found in abundance in many areas of the Cascade Loop throughout the year. Read More >>>>
A Whale of a Tail
There are few animals in the wild as thrilling to see as a whale. Here in Washington state, we are fortunate enough to be on the migration route for several species of whale as they travel from Alaska to warmer southern waters to breed, then back again to Alaska to feed on the colder ocean’s bounty. The most common whale sightings are of Orca and Gray whales, some of whom find the Puget Sound and the Salish Sea such a beautiful area that they decide to stick around all year. That… Read More >>>>
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+ Destinations
      Lake Chelan Valley
      Leavenworth Cascade Foothills
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      North Cascades
      Seattle Northcountry
      Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island
      Stevens Pass Greenway
      Wenatchee Columbia River Valley
      Whidbey Scenic Isle Way
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+ The Great Outdoors
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     Water Activities
     White Water
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      + Winter Fun
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