Washington State’s Chuckanut Drive

State Route 11, popularly known as Chuckanut Drive, runs along the coast of Washington State for about 21 miles between Burlington and Bellingham. As part of the Pacific Highway system that runs the length of the western coast of the U.S., this drive does not disappoint. 

Beautiful farmland gives way to the stunning coastline of Washington State, displayed in all its glory – think mountains meet sea with only you and the road in between. The greenery that fills the mountainside contrasts with the shimmering Pacific in a way that fills the heart with a kind of childlike giddiness. 

The road winds through the Samish Farmlands, the Chuckanut Mountains, several small towns, and has scenic overlooks and beach access – all making for a pleasant drive with plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs. 

Attractions along the way

Check out Bow and Fairhaven – small, historic towns that offer history and renowned restaurants. Bow claims The Oyster Bar, a small restaurant on Chuckanut Drive, that has an award winning wine list, excellent seafood and ocean views. The streets of Fairhaven portray Victorian-era charm and offer unique shops. 

Hike to the Bat Caves, which are actually a jumble of boulders at the base of a rock face and home to Towsend’s big-eared bats. The trailhead is located at mile 10 and the hike is 5 miles round trip, with a 2,000 foot elevation gain. After your hike be sure to stop at Taylor Shellfish Farms, also at Mile 10, where you can buy locally grown seafood. 

There are a lot of other places stop and explore along the way, use The Seattle Times Mile-by-Mile Guide to find a complete list. 

Bike Chuckanut Drive

Bicyclists will enjoy the challenge and beauty of the road but should plan their time and route carefully – there is a 5 mile stretch that does not have bike lanes and one section requires a detour: miles 0-8 have 3’ bike lanes, miles 9-14 do not have bike lanes at all, miles 14-20 require use of the Interurban Trail, which parallels Chuckanut Drive and miles 18-21 have 4’ bike lanes.

There are several scenic byways in Washington State besides State Route 11 – be sure to check those out too!


Photo credit: Views along Chuckanut Drive, Flickr/John Lloyd