From sunsets on saltwater to classic fall foliage, Whatcom County is home to two iconic highway routes, both of which are officially designated as scenic drives.
Chuckanut Drive is state highway 11, which begins at I-5 exit 231 in Burlington. Traveling north, this is a favorite and historic entry into Whatcom County. For many miles the road hugs the shoreline, offering incredible views of passing bays, with islands in the distance. Completed in 1896, Chuckanut Drive was the first land access to the Bellingham Bay community of Fairhaven from points further south. Previous to its completion, the common access into the region was by boat due to an impenetrable carpet of ancient cedars growing from the mountains to the sea. At milepost 14, Chuckanut Drive passes Larrabee State Park, with access to the beach, tidepools, and trails. Encompassing 2,000 acres, Larrabee was the first designated state park in the state of Washington. Chuckanut Drive culminates in the Historic Fairhaven District, known for its Victorian-era red-brick architecture, quaint shops and restaurants.
Mount Baker Highway is state route 542, stretching from Bellingham east toward snow-capped Mt. Baker. Within the first five miles, Bellinghamâ€™s urban feel gives way to rolling farmland and alpine vistas. The highway was built gradually in the late 1800s as an access road for the lucrative logging industry and its rich history is well documented. Between mileposts 10 and 34, the road passes through the close-knit communities of Nugentâ€™s Corner, Deming, Kendall, Maple Falls and Glacier.Â At Glacier, the road passes into the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and is designated a National Forest Scenic Byway.Â Towering evergreens and big leaf maples line the route, which tranquility skirts the Nooksack River at several points. In the summer months, the highway ends at milepost 58 in a parking lot, which is 5,140 foot Artist Point with spectacular views of Mt. Bakerâ€™s 10,781-foot peak, and an abundance of hiking trails. In the winter months, the road ends at milepost 55, which is the Mount Baker Ski Area – holder of the world record for snowfall in a single season.