Visiting the Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mt Vernon, WA

 

Tulips Fields in Skagit Valley, Washington

Skagit Valley, Washington offers a unique characteristic in the United States. Heavily populated with farmlands north of Seattle, it is home to one of the largest flower bulb growers in the U.S. with 1,000+ acres of tulip, daffodil, and iris fields. As you drive through the valley, in the distance you will see hundreds of rows of tulips creating a striking multicolored linear brilliance against the plowed chocolate-colored dirt farmlands.

Where & When

Skagit Valley (pronounced SKAJ-it like badge it) is located in Western Washington 65 miles north of Seattle, about 1 1/4 hours drive (without Seattle traffic). View map The tulip fields are located between Mt Vernon and La Conner, WA.

Thousands of people flock to see the tulip, daffodil and iris fields annually in April. Peak bloom times vary each year. Daffodil and iris tend to bloom before the tulips. These photos were taken on a rare sunny afternoon at the end of an overcast April in 2011. This year’s peak tulip bloom was in the last week of April and continued into early May.

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Visiting the Bulb Growers

The two top bulb sellers – RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town – both have tulip displays that you can walk through and take photos. You can also purchase flowers and bulbs on site. Admission is $5 per adult (Tulip Town offers free admission for those 16 and under). RoozenGaarde has a wonderful online bloom map to let you know which tulip, daffodil and iris fields are in bloom. Be sure to read the description to see when they are going to “top” the flowers so that you don’t miss the brilliant flowers by a few days as I have done in the past. You’ll have to wait another year to see the multicolored strips of land again.

Off With Their Heads!

If you don’t time it right, you may come upon a strange sight – an acre of tulips that have been “topped” – their flowers lopped off with the stems and leaves still standing. It would seem to make no sense as to why you would cut the heads off of such a delightful display of tulips and not even sell the flowers! Despite the loss of the delicate flowers, this process allows for more magnificence to appear as this enables the bulbs mature and multiple. In time, the bulbs are harvested and sold around the country for people to plant in their own yards.

Mark Your Calendar

Mark your calendars for the beginning of April to start watching for the peak bloom in Skagit Valley. A visit to the tulip fields will surely be a spectacular site that you won’t soon forget.

Skagit Valley is located in Western Washington State 65 miles north of Seattle (approx. 1 1/4 hours without traffic):


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Lisa Kuhn

Writer
Lisa has traveled through South America for three months exploring Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. She also traveled extensively in the Western United States including Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and South Dakota. Lisa has traveled to Europe three times including her first trip in Europe backpacking for three months of solo-travel.

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