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On The Loop: Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island

As it reaches toward the Salish Sea from the North Cascades, the Skagit River has deposited a vast triangle of flood plain soil and nutrients to create some of the richest agricultural land in the Northwest. Dotted with farmhouses, heritage barns and more than 80,000 snow geese in the winter, 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 backdropped by dramatic views of 10,775 ft. Mount Baker and the North Cascades.

The La Conner Daffodil Festival in March and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April brings thousands of visitors who come to see and photograph the blooms. Visitors love to drive past acres of produce throughout the rest of the year and tour farms during the Festival of Family Farms in October.

Sedro-Woolley is a logging community that celebrates its heritage each year in the Loggerrodeo. See logging and chainsaw carving contests, parades, a rodeo, bluegrass jubilee and fireworks at this week long Fourth of July celebration. For beautiful views of Mt. Baker and Baker Lake take a side trip up Baker Lake Road.

Mount Vernon features a historic downtown and a river front ideal for exploring on foot. Just to the north, Burlington is home to one of the largest discount shopping malls in the Northwest. Their Berry Dairy Days celebration in June recognizes the importance of agriculture within this rich valley.

Nestled between the Swinomish Channel, the Skagit River Delta and the Salish Sea, picturesque La Conner, with a new boardwalk, is an authentic combination of fishing village and artists’ colony. Excellent accommodations and first-class restaurants with views of the water and Mt. Baker mix with the eclectic group of shops, galleries and museums downtown. Be sure to visit the Museum of Northwest Art, the Skagit County Historical Museum, and the Gaches Mansion which is home to the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, one of just 12 in the U.S.

Over the past 10 years, many young artists – from painters to chefs – have moved to the quirky, tiny, utopia of Edison.  The beautiful scenery in and around Edison, including Chuckanut Drive, makes this a favorite drive for locals and visitors.

Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island, is a bustling port town with a pedestrian-friendly downtown which hosts the Anacortes Arts Festival in August. Washington State ferries connect Anacortes with four of the San Juan Islands – Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, San Juan – and provide service to Sidney, B.C. near Victoria. If you have limited time, take a short and quick ferry ride to Guemes Island.  In Anacortes, enjoy lovely parks, beaches, community forestland, great gallery browsing and excellent antique shopping. Oh, and don’t forget to take a drive to incredibly scenic Mt. Erie and the Deception Pass bridge!

Skagit Valley Visitor Services

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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: http://lovelaconner.com/kiket-island-kukutali-preserve/

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
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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Anacortes Marina at Dawn, Photo by Andy Porter
Lego Building Championship- Nick's Bricks
Mission Ridge's Dummy Downhill
Taste Leavenworth 2019
Leavenworth Ale Fest
North Cascades Photography: Diablo Dam Tour
As you drive along the North Cascades Highway section of the Cascade Loop there plenty of wonderful vistas and things to see. There are three dams along the Skagit River, Diablo Dam is one of them, part of the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project that supplies Seattle with a large proportion of its power needs. You can stop at the overlooks and admire them from afar, OR you can take the Diablo Dam Tour and see the operation up close. The unique, intense turquoise hue of the lake's water is attributed… Read More >>>>
Bird of the Week: Dark-Eyed Junco
These little sparrows can be spotted fluttering around the forest floor in search of seeds. During the warmer season, juncos are commonly found in the western mountains and the tips of Canada. As the weather cools and winter approaches, they expand their territory further in to the states and throughout North America. Read More >>>>
North Cascades Photography: Baker River
The Baker River drains an area of 270 square miles in a complex of deep valleys partially inside North Cascades National Park. Access is year-round via the Baker Lake Road. Read More >>>>
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+ Destinations
      Lake Chelan Valley
      Leavenworth Cascade Foothills
      Methow Valley
      North Cascades
      Seattle Northcountry
      Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island
      Stevens Pass Greenway
      Wenatchee Columbia River Valley
      Whidbey Scenic Isle Way
+ Accommodations
     Bed & Breakfasts / Country Inns
     Camping & Glamping
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     Hotels & Motels
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     Lodges & Resorts
     Pet Friendly
+ Dining & Wineries
     Beer, Breweries & Distilleries
      + Farms Stands
      + Wineries & Vineyards
+ Indoor Activities
     Art Galleries & Studios
     Performing Arts
      + Shopping
+ The Great Outdoors
     Aerial Adventures
     Boat Tours
     Farms & Barns
     Fishing & Hunting
     Gardens & Outdoor Art
     Horseback Riding
     National Parks, Forests & Recreation Areas
     Pet Friendly Activities
     Photo Tours & Lessons
     Scenic View Points
     State & Local Parks
     Water Activities
     White Water
     Wildlife Viewing
      + Winter Fun
+ Visitor Info/Services
     National Forest Ranger Stations
     Scenic Byways along the Loop
     Traveler Services: Gas, Snacks, Auto Repair
     Visitor Centers, Tourism Bureaus, Chambers
     Washington State Resources
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