Top 20 Washington State Trips

Artist Point

Artists Point

Artist Point has panoramic 360 degree views of the Northern Cascades in Washington State.

Artist Point is 3 hours drive north of Seattle, but can only be accessed for a few months in summer.  During the rest of the year it's buried under 30 to 40 feet of snow.  

The last section of the drive is along the 24-mile scenic byway from Glacier to Artist Point, then the road dead-ends at Artist Point.

This stunning viewpoint commands incredible views of Mt Shuksan and Mt Baker, from an elevation of 5,000 feet.  You're literally standing on the rooftop of the Cascades!

10 best things on the drive to Artist Point

Drive the magnificent 24-mile Scenic Byway along Mt Baker Highway, from Glacier township up to Artist Point. Check road conditions (the final section of the drive to Artist Point along the Mt Baker Highway, is buried under snow from October to June).

1. Enjoy a meal at tiny Glacier township.

Stop for a meal at the tiny township of Glacier. Choices include Milano's restaurant (Italian), Chair 9 Pizza, or Wake 'n Bakery.

2. Stop at the Glacier Public Service Center for information.

Drop by the Glacier Public Service Center for information on conditions and hiking at Artist Point.  Take a photo of the Douglas Fir log out front, with an incredible 5 foot 2 diameter!

3. Check out beautiful Nooksack Falls.

Take the turnoff to Nooksack Falls just after Glacier, featured in the 1978 movie The Deer HunterA short walk from the parking lot will take you to the dramatic head of the falls, where you'll see high protective fencing around the Falls.  Catch a glimpse of where the calm glacial waters suddenly plunge over the waterfall to the canyon depths below. 

4. Drive past the Mt Baker Ski Area.

The Mt Baker Ski Area is on your left, but there's nothing to see in summer except a few empty lifts. Mt Baker has the highest annual snowfall of any ski resort in the world, and set the record for snowfall in 1998-99 with 95-feet of snow!

5. Stop at the magnificent Picture Lake Viewpoint (milepost 54).

Your next stop is lovely Picture Lake, just 3 miles from your final destination of Artist Point.  There's a short 0.5 mile trail along this lake, with soaring views of Mount Shuksan in the background. The surrounding mountains are reflected in the stunning, glassy surface of the lake. 

6. Savor spectacular views at the Heather Meadows Cafe (milepost 55).

If you're hankering for a snack, stop at the seasonal Heather Meadows Cafe (milepost 55), on the second floor of the Heather Meadows Day Lodge. Gaze up at the mountains through a magnificent wall of windows.  They can also do a packed lunch for a hike.

7. Stop for lunch at Austin Pass Picnic Area (milepost 56).

The Austin Pass Picnic Area is a gorgeous place for lunch, with views of Table Mountain.  There are three picnic tables next to the parking lot.  In summer this area is a combination of soft grasses, flowering meadows and alpine lakes.   

8. Get information at the Heather Meadows Visitor Center at Austin Pass (milepost 56).

The historic Heather Meadows Visitor Center (seasonal only) is also at Austin Pass at Milepost 56, run by the NPS. It has its own parking lot and is just a short walk from the Austin Pass Picnic Area.  Pick up maps and day passes here.

A number of fantastic hikes start from here, but don't attempt a hike without first checking in at the Heather Meadows Visitor Center.   Hikes range from beginner to advanced.  Choose from the Fire and Ice Trail (0.5 miles), Bagley Lakes Trail (1-mile), Panorama Dome (3-miles), Chain Lakes (4.5 miles) and so many more.

9. Make the final 2-mile ascent up to Artist Point.

The most dramatic part of your journey is the final 2-mile ascent to Artist Point.  The highway meanders along sheer cliff edges with precipitous drops.  Most vehicles slow to a crawl when navigating the hairpin turns along this stretch.  This section of the highway is definitely not recommended if you're scared of heights! 

10.  Arrive at the Artist Point parking lot and start exploring!

This is the parking lot at Artist Point, where the Mount Baker Highway dead-ends.  You have finally arrived!

The parking lot at Artist Point is buried under 30 to 50 feet of snow during winter!

Upon arriving at the Artist Point parking lot you will be greeted with 360-degree views, including Mt Baker (pictured). 

Explore the small lookout near the parking lot, encircled by stone walls.

Kids and the young at heart will delight in the snow covered slopes. 

Visitors throw snowballs and toboggan under the warm glare of the summer sun.  The more adventurous are busy exploring hiking trails. 

Professional photographers secure the best vantage points at Artist Point, for unparalleled views of Mount Shuksan.

These types of mountain views at Artist Point are usually reserved for experienced hikers.  Artist Point is a must-see destination each year.

Mt Shuksan is 9,131 feet high, and its name means "talk peak" in the Lummi native indian language.

Mt Baker is higher than Mt Shuksan, at 10,781 feet.

Artist Point is a truly unique experience, enabling a rare glimpse across the rooftop of the North Cascades. 

 

Are there restaurants or cafes at Mt Baker?

The Heather Meadows Cafe is open for a very short window during warmer months.  It's located at the Heather Meadows Day Lodge on the second floor, mile marker 55.  The mountain views are gorgeous from here!    The small township of Glacier is 24-miles before Artist Point, and also has some restaurants.  Milanos Restaurant at Glacier is great for lunch or dinner, and there's patio dining in summer.

Mt Baker Lodging & Rentals.

Click here for information about camping along the Mount Baker Highway.  

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