It astounds me that more people don’t take advantage of America’s scenic byways. Perhaps people are in too much of a hurry to take such detours anymore. I think they’re well worth it. I’ve never been on one that didn’t fill me with awe. Chuckanut Drive, also known as Washington State Route 11, is one such byway.
Stretching from Bellingham to Burlington, Washington, it’s a 21-mile coastal route that treats you to winding cliffside views of the deeply forested Chuckanut Mountains, the San Juan Islands, and Samish Bay. It’s Washington State’s answer to Big Sur.
There are plenty of overlooks to stop at, and you’ll pass by Larrabee State Park, with its campground, lakes, and miles of hiking trails which can take you through the forest or down to the beach. I’m told the sunsets over the San Juan Islands are particularly stunning.
There are several places to stop and eat including the Rhododendron Café, which is known for a changing menu that includes fresh local produce, and is also an art gallery, and the Oyster Bar or the Chuckanut Manor with their stunning views and outstanding seafood.
Also, check out the Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden, just two miles south of Bellingham. It includes artistic work of many types by Pacific Northwest artists, and a lovely garden with a variety of sculptures.
Chuckanut Drive is a nice scenic route to take between Seattle and Vancouver, but it’s also worth a few days all its own. I highly recommend this route, no matter how many stops you are willing to make. You’ll feel your blood pressure drop just by experiencing the pure beauty and romance of your surroundings.