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Pacific Northwest - Washington

Chuckanut Drive

( Nature’s Beauty / Scenic Areas & Drives )

A Karen Brown Recommendation
Blanchard, WA  USA
Return to Hwy 20 and travel west through scenic farmland; then turn north following Bayview Edison Road as it shadows the coastline and intersects with Hwy 11, otherwise known as the Chuckanut Drive. Park just off the road where you see signs for Padilla Bay, a national reserve, interpretive center and state park (360-428-1558, www.padillabay.gov), walk an elevated trail along a dike across the nation’s largest wetland bay, and enjoy the company of hawks, bald eagles, herons, snow geese, trumpeter swans and the occasional sea otter. (For a birding map, call 360-428-8547.) Just past Edison, a town that dates back to the 1800s, turn onto Chuckanut Drive, considered one of the most scenic roads in Washington State and a great alternative to the interstate. From 1913 to 1931, this road was part of the Pacific Highway connecting Vancouver, B.C. to San Diego, California. (If time is short, take Hwy 20 east and take it to I-5 North. Exit I-5 as soon as you see signs to Hwy 11.) The views of Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Mountains are marvelous, as you wend your way along this lush path cut into the rocky hillside to Bellingham. Take advantage of the turnouts for some spectacular views. Let yourself be tempted on roads that wind the short distance down to the water’s edge to enjoy the beautiful coves, inlets, and emerald waters explored often by kayaks. There are also numerous parks whose trails wend their way up the rocky hillside and down through lush foliage. The sandy shores are prime for shellfish, and there are a few restaurants where you can stop to enjoy the view and sample the local seafood. You can also purchase oysters and crabs direct from the fisherman, as well as watch a video that teaches about oyster and clamming. Turn off Chuckanut Drive at the sign for Taylor Shellfish Farm. They even provide picnic tables and barbecues (charcoal is available for purchase) should you want to barbeque your own. (Open 7 days, 2182 Chuckanut Drive, 360-766-6002). The soft light of both early morning and evening are ideal for traveling this memorable route.
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