Take in tulip season in Skagit Valley, WA

Fields of blooming tulips beckon you to this corner of northern Washington come spring, when acres of multi-colored fields beg for some camera time
Jim McCausland

Why go to Washington's Skagit Valley in April: To stand before fields of intensely colored flowers—cherry red, navel orange, pure white—that blanket the area.

Month-long party: The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (Apr 1–30).

Fit for: Flower fiends, but even if you don’t know a tulip from a rose, the display will blow you away.

Lay of the land: A patchwork of bulb fields stretching from Mt. Vernon and Burlington to La Conner.

Number of growers: 3 

Number of bulbs they produce: 200 million

Number of cut flowers produced: 97 million

Percent of nation’s commercial tulip crop produced: 75

Dress code: Layers (it can go from sun to showers in seconds).

Keep an eye out for: Rainbows and wild turkeys.

Flower break: Buy a kite (or BYO) to fly on the field at Tulip Town ($5; 15002 Bradshaw Rd., Mt. Vernon).

Mail-order bulbs: Want your own tulip patch? You’ll have to wait for fall to plant. But swing by RoozenGaarde (15867 Beaver Marsh Rd., Mt. Vernon) and order now.

In spring, Skagit Valley is a photographer’s dream, with strips of Technicolor petals stretching from your feet to the horizon.

Although it’s hard to screw up a shot like that, keep these tips in mind: Clouds intensify the colors. When skies are blue, shoot toward the sun—backlight makes individual blooms really pop.

Keep your eyes peeled for the best spots—often right off the road, where the crowds aren’t.

Next: What to do on a day in Skagit Valley, WA

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