When Spring comes to the Skagit Valley, so do the Tulips! Washington State is the second-largest producer of commercial Tulips after Holland. Skagit Valley is home to most of the Washington State Fields. Tulip Festival takes over most of the fields in Mt. Vernon and La Conner and creates a colorful carpet that hundreds of thousands of people come to see every year.
Before the Tulips arrive in late March or early April, the Daffodils bloom! Daffodils are bright yellow flowers that can withstand cooler temperatures so they are able to bloom earlier in the Spring. These yellow flowers cover huge fields and, during their peak season, look almost neon.
Daffodils are grown in Skagit County for the bulbs. Unlike Tulips, Daffodils do not need to be cut during the peak season to preserve their energy in the bulbs. This means that you can watch the entire life span of a Daffodil year-round. While the fields rotate every year, there are always several Daffodils fields in the Skagit Flats area.
You can see flowers all over the valley. Check out the beautiful flowers down highway 20 from Burlington to LaConner or Anacortes, and you will see just how resilient these flowers are. If you do not pull daffodils bulbs out of the ground, they will rebloom year after year. You can find daffodils growing along the highway, in medians, and in many open areas throughout the county.
The Daffodils are often used as a measure of when the Tulips will come. If the Daffodils bloom early, the Tulips will likely bloom in late March instead of early April. If the ground is frozen for longer, the daffodils will bloom mid-March instead of Early in the month, which means the Tulips may be several weeks late.
While some may be partial to the beautiful yellow and white hues of the daffodil fields, the main attraction in the Springtime in Skagit Valley is the Tulips. The Tulip Festival officially begins April 1st and ends April 30th, but the tulips are known to bloom late some years and early others.
Tulips need precise growing requirements, so they are predominately only grown in Washington, small parts of Oregon, and Holland. The ideal time to see the tulips is often very short. Often the window is only two weeks or less, because before the tulips begin to wilt, their flowers are cut off in a process called topping. Tulips are topped because farmers need their energy to go back into the bulbs rather than keeping the flower alive. If this process is not done, the bulbs will be less valuable.
While Tulips are beautiful to look at and an essential part of the tourism economy in the area, their primary purpose is to harvest bulbs that can be sold worldwide. Every year, disappointed tourists book their trips too late in the season and arrive in the Skagit Valley to find fields of tulips heads already topped and on the ground.
Planning your trip
Planning your spring trip to Skagit County for Tulip Festival can be tricky because it is hard to know precisely when the tulips will be in full bloom. Usually, the best weeks are the last two weeks of April, but the exact times change year to year. Several commercial tulip attractions usually have tulips longer than the bulb fields if you come early or late.
Tulip town and Rosengardens both have their tulip displays and fields where you can walk through the fields. This can be an excellent option for many as it is illegal to walk through many of the large bulb fields as they are private farm property, and they are often next to busy roads with limited parking. During the 2021 season, both of these locations required reservations to come into the venue.
While mid-April may be the best time for Tulips, many locals enjoy March for a few reasons. While the Tulips are not yet bloomed, the Daffodil fields will be in full swing.
There are usually at least 2-3 large fields of Daffodils. The tourists have not yet arrived for the Tulips, so you often get to stop next to the fields all by yourself.
The other fantastic thing about this time is that the snow geese are still in Skagit County. Snow geese winter in Skagit County and leave in the Spring for a different climate.
There are often fields full of hundreds of snow geese together. A stunning display is to be had when they all fly together to move to another field or resettle. During snow geese and Daffodil season, you can often find painters and photographers standing on the side of the road trying to capture the magic.
As mentioned above, the farmers change fields every year to make sure the flowers have fertile grounds to grow, so each year, the fields are different. Every year, Skagit Valley puts out an excellent map of the fields that shows where the best Tulips and Daffodil fields are. These maps are usually in every business in the town of LaConner. The map is also available online most years.
During the Tulip Festival, there are lots of other events to enjoy in Skagit Valley. There are often old car parades, live music, and other festivities in the Town of LaConner. If you are looking for an exclusive look at the Tulips from the sky, there is an airport nearby in Bayview where you can rent small 2-4 person airplanes to take you over the Valley.
Skagit Valley in the springtime is an exhilarating time. During the Spring, the sleepy Valley wakes up, and the fields, animals, and farmers come alive. Flowers and farms make for an excellent trip for families! Make sure to pack your rain gear for your trip! The Valley can be very wet during the spring months, and fields are often muddy from the rain! Whether you come for the tulips, snow geese, or daffodils, you are sure to have a great time exploring.
Make sure to check back into the Clever Neighbor for more of the best tips on how to experience Skagit Valley. With so many beautiful seasons of farming and outdoor activities, there is always more to see and do.