Skagit River Eagle Trip

Over the weekend of January 14 -17, we took a trip to the Skagit River to do some eagle photography and to try out a couple teleconverters that I had rented from a Seattle camera shop. We got out of Seattle at about 4:00 pm and headed north, but soon ran into one of the worst traffic jams we had ever seen. The whole interstate was shut down due to a fatality, so by the time we got to our campsite near Concrete, WA, it was about 7:00.

We camped two nights at Rasar State Park which is on the Skagit River. This is a fairly new state park and is still relatively unknown. We had no problem finding a powered site as the park was almost empty. After getting Ramona set up for the night it was so dark and rainy we decided to wait until morning to pay our camp fees. When we walked over to the pay station in the morning, we had a chance to chat with the park ranger. She told us about the many activities that were going on for the annual eagle festival and also suggested we might enjoy the variety of birds further down river on the Skagit flats.

We decided to go up river on Saturday and try the flats on Sunday as we made our way back towards Seattle. Our first stop was a short drive through the town of Concrete to photograph a picturesque Catholic church. From there we headed to Rockport and the Howard Miller Steelhead County Park.

At the county park there were lots of eagle festival related activities planned for the day, including a chili cook-off. There was an eagle interpretive center there and we were about to go check that out when a guy approached us asking if we’d like to take a free float trip on the river. The next thing we knew, we were heading up the highway in a small bus to the start point for our raft trip. It turns out they call these raft rides “trips for tips”. All day long they offer free rides in exchange for tips. Pretty brainy way to fill their boats, I’d say.

The float was fairly short, but really just long enough. We saw numerous eagles and enjoyed the serenity of the river. The rafts returned to the Howard Miller park where Ramona was parked. No sooner had we got off our raft, then an eagle presentation started up in a building at the park. We attended this and learned a lot about eagles and there were handlers with a Golden Eagle, a Bald Eagle, and an immature Bald Eagle.

After the eagle presentation we headed further east on the highway to Marblemont to eat at The Eatery which is part of Clark’s Skagit Resort. After a yummy meal we started back to our campsite with a few photo stops along the way. It had been an awesome day with beautiful sunshine.

Sunday morning we packed up Ramona and headed west on Highway 20. We stopped just south of the town of Edison to photograph a bunch of trumpeter swans in a soggy wet field, and then in Edison we stopped at the Farm to Market Bakery for a yummy cinnamon bun. From there we drove out to Samish Island. We stopped numerous times to photograph many eagles, hawks, herons and swans. We’re so glad we drive a small rig that we can pull over just about anywhere for photos!

By late afternoon, we pointed Ramona south on the interstate to spend the night in my parent’s driveway in Shoreline so we could return our camera equipment rentals to the shop in Seattle by 10:00 the next morning.

After 2 weeks of rain in early January, we feel we were very lucky with the weather. It rained during the nights, but we had warm sunshine on both Saturday and Sunday. This was a great trip and I can’t wait to spend some more time in this beautiful area. We hope to be up there again this spring for a trip to Winthrop when the highway department opens the North Cascades Highway.

Click here to see all the photos in this slideshow.

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