Washington’s Skagit Valley welcomes Spring in the most delightful way: with seemingly endless fields of tulips.
A spring visit to Skagit’s tulip fields with a new baby in 2012 zapped off my lingering winter/postpartum blues. Every time we visit, the tulip blooms bring back the same feelings: awe for Nature, gratitude for Life and renewed Hope.
These heralds of spring were wild flowers in Central Asia, growing in the mountains at the borders of what are now China and Russia. They were cultivated by the Ottoman Empire and it is by way of Turkey that they found their way to Holland in the 16th century. Tulipa, the generic name of tulips comes from the Ottoman Turkish word for turban.
Tulips are the national flower of Turkey. But yes, like most everyone, when we hear tulips, it’s Holland that automatically comes to mind. We’d like to visit Keukenhof, the largest flower park in the world and soak in the atmosphere of Amsterdam’s Bloemenmarkt.
Spring in Holland is in the family bucket-list. So are trips to Turkey, China and Russia.
Closer to home and accessible now, is Skagit Valley.
From Holland to Washington
Tulips have grown amazingly well in Skagit Valley.
Skagit Valley has very fertile topsoil. The maritime climate is optimal for tulip growth: winter is cold but not freezing, then gradually transitions to spring. Summers are warm and autumns are moderate.
Then there are the people with the passion and the know-how about growing tulips who migrated from Holland to Washington’s Skagit Valley, among them, William Roozen of Washington Bulb Company that owns and operates RoozenGarde, and Anthony DeGeode whose labors have led to Tulip Town.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Skagit Valley’s Tulip Festival happens April 1-30, but “Bloom dates are according to Mother Nature.”
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is about 60 miles north of Seattle (taking I-5 North) and about 70 miles south of Vancouver, BC, Canada (taking I-5 South). The Tulip Festival can be reached through Exits 230 (Burlington Exit), 221 (Conway Exit) and 226 (Mount Vernon Exit).
We usually make it a weekend trip and stay in Seattle. We suggest going to the Tulip Festival early as it gets busy on weekends, or if you can, visit on a weekday.
A Festival Map (interactive or printable) is available to guide visitors to the tulip fields. The map changes every year as the fields rotate each year. The Tulip Festival is a driving tour with designated parking areas. The organizers request visitors to be respectful of travel lanes and private property.
There are two amazing display gardens: RoozenGarde and Tulip Town. Entrance fees, hours and schedule of events are detailed in their websites. Parking is free. The gardens are so much fun for children. If you are not a tulip enthusiast prior to your visit, there is very high likelihood that with a visit to RoozenGarde or Tulip Town, you will become one.
Close-toed shoes are advised visiting the tulip fields; consider wearing boots. Some places can be muddy.
Know that if you go, it will be hard to put down the camera. There is simply an abundance of beauty to capture.
Thanks for visiting our blog. Cheers to new beginnings. Happy Spring!