Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center, through January, Rockport; U.S. Forest Service Eagle Viewing Stations, through January, three locations on Highway 20; Rockport State Park Deep Forest Experience, through Feb. 14, Rockport.
Bald eagles heading to the North Cascades to feed on salmon in the Skagit River draw visitors to one of our state’s most beautiful natural settings with event weekends through January in Rockport, Concrete and Marblemount.
The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at Howard Miller Steelhead Park has displays, information, local arts and crafts and guided walks Saturdays and Sundays to help visitors see and learn about the Skagit River ecosystem, winter migration of bald eagles, salmon and the role they play in our environment.
Noting there are fewer eagles in the area because of low chum salmon runs in the Skagit River this year, Judy Hemenway, Coordinator of the Skagit River Bald Eagle Awareness Team nonprofit, says, “We’ve become lots more informative on the science and environment of the Skagit River the last two years. We’re here to educate and have a lot to share with visitors.” Fewer eagles haven’t translated to fewer human visitors; Hemenway notes visitor numbers have increased substantially this year at the small Interpretive Center since it opened for the season in early December.
Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through January.
Location: 52809 Rockport Park Road, Rockport.
More info: 360-853-7626 or skagiteagle.org/wordpress
U.S. Forest Eagle View Stations
Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through Jan. 31.
Location: Howard Miller Steelhead Park, 52809 Rockport Park Road, State Route 20, Rockport; Milepost 100 Rest Area at Sutter Creek, State Route 20; and Marblemount Fish Hatchery, Marblemount.
More info: skagiteaglewatchers.wordpress.com
Rockport State Park Deep Forest Experience
Time: Guided forest hikes, 10 and 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m.; Discovery Center, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays through Feb. 14.
Cost: Discover Pass or $10 day pass required for parking.
Location: Milepost 96.5, Highway 20, Rockport.
More info: 360-853-8461 or parks.state.wa.us/574/Rockport
Native American History, Storytelling, Music: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 9-10, Marblemount Community Hall, 60055 State Route 20, Marblemount; free, donations appreciated.
Raptor presentations: 1 and 3 p.m. Jan. 16, Concrete Theater, 45920 Main St., Concrete; 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Jan. 30, Concrete High School, 7830 Superior Ave., Concrete; free.
Photography workshop: 1 to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Concrete Theater, 45920 Main St., Concrete; free, no registration necessary.
More info: 360-466-8754 or concrete-wa.com
Eagles can be difficult to spot, and the U.S. Forest Service provides expert help, spotting scopes and binoculars at three viewing sites along Highway 20. Cloudy or overcast days are best to spot eagles, when they tend to stay close to the river, perched in trees after their early-morning salmon feeding.
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They are more active on sunny days, soaring above the river and harder to see. Don’t disturb them by approaching. Use a long lens for photos. Pets should be leashed to keep them from approaching eagles or their feeding areas.
Rockport State Park, a short distance from the Interpretive Center, hosts guided 30-45 minute forest hikes through the forest, with displays and craft activities in their Discovery Center Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 14. The 670-acre park’s ancient forest has five miles of hiking trails including one mile that’s ADA-accessible, and a steep trail to the top of Sauk Mountain, elevation 5,400 feet.
Events in the area through January include Native American history, storytelling and music Saturday and Sunday Jan. 9 and 10 in Marblemount, raptor presentations Jan. 16 and 30, and a workshop on photographing migratory birds Jan. 23, all in Concrete.
The Skagit River bald eagle viewing area is about 100 miles northeast of Seattle.
“The weather has been perfect, and Highway 20 is always kept up very well,” says Hemenway. Calls to the Interpretive Center to check on road and weather conditions before heading out are always welcome.