Tiptoe Through the Tulip Route
Every spring, Washington’s Skagit Valley is carpeted in color and celebrated with a monthlong festival
Bring on the blossoms! During the entire month of April, the flower-growing Skagit Valley in northwest Washington celebrates the glorious arrival of spring with its annual Tulip Festival. Friendly towns like La Conner and Mount Vernon welcome visitors from all over the world to amazing, color-drenched tulip fields. The brilliant floral displays — expansive bands of sunny yellow, vibrant red, deep purple, orange and bright pink — stretch on and on, the stuff of photographers’ dreams. The dates for peak tulip watching are difficult to predict, as Mother Nature determines tulips’ blooming patterns. The element of surprise is half the fun, and the Tulip Routes (driving and cycling) guide expectant gazers past hundreds of flowering acres.
Tulip Festival events address a wide spectrum of preferences. La Conner hosts an old-fashioned parade (think marching bands, farm animals, clowns and pampered pets), and Mount Vernon’s downtown Street Fair presents performing musicians, food vendors and more than 100 juried arts-and-crafts booths. Paintings, photography, jewelry, home furnishings and pottery are exhibited at art shows staged at local restaurants, a winery and plant nurseries, and even in a schoolhouse.
The festival is designed as a driving tour, and two participating gardens — Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde, both in Mount Vernon — offer weekday parking for tour buses and RVs. Due to tremendous festival attendance on Saturdays and Sundays, RVers are advised to park their rigs offsite on weekends and ride bicycles, drive a tow vehicle or rent a car to access the valley’s gardens.
Members of the Roozen family have cultivated tulips in Holland and the United States since the early 18th century. The Roozens’ breathtaking display garden contains more than 250,000 bulbs, including crocus, yellow daffodils, hyacinths, purple iris and a grand assortment of tulips, plus a real Dutch windmill.
Tom DeGoede’s Tulip Town features three gardens, including a pond and waterwheel display with unique hybrid tulips. At Tulip Town, you can buy a freshly plucked bouquet and browse through the floral-themed art gallery and gift shop. Why not indulge in an espresso or a bite to eat at the Tulip Café, then take a trolley ride to enjoy elevated views of surrounding fields?
Tulip-seeking RVers can stay year-round at Mount Vernon RV Park (800-385-9895, www.rvonthego.com/washington/mount-vernon-rv-campground) or nearby Burlington/Anacortes KOA (360-724-5511, www.koa.com/campgrounds/burlington). State, county and city parks also offer overnight camping.
For more information and a printable Tulip Festival map or interactive map with GPS coordinates, call 360-428-5959 or visit www.tulipfestival.org.