Northwest Washington State’s hidden jewel: the Mt Baker, Nooksack River valleys.|
By: Robert Tacker
Nestled in the NW corner of WA State is one of the least known and rarest jewels in the Northwest. Mt Baker and the Nooksack river valleys boast some of the finest outdoor recreation opportunities in the west. It's close proximity to Bellingham, WA and the greater Vancouver, B.C. metroplex puts world class restaurants, shopping and the arts within easy driving distance.
But one of the best things about this little slice of heaven in east Whatcom County is the tranquility and peacefulness that are part of the natural rhythm of the area. Once you get past Deming there are only a couple of towns, Maple Falls, and Glacier. The pace in both seems largely unrushed and they both provide a window into a more genteel world that existed in the not too distant past.
Over the course of the year here there is a stunning variety of things to experience. Winter recreation here is top notch and Mt. Baker can honestly boast of being the birthplace of snowboarding. In addition to all that the ski area has to offer, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling opportunities abound. As spring turns to summer, white water river rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, camping and hiking take over.
In the summer and winter seasons live music can be heard in Glacier at Graham's Restaurant and in Maple Falls at Ju Juana Mexican Restaurant. There are several excellent music festivals held here in the summer, including the Mt. Baker Blues Festival and the Subdued String Band Jamboree. Nooksack casino in Deming runs year round, and in addition there is a microbrewery, the North Fork Brewery and Pizzeria just down the road from Maple Falls. A little further down the highway is Mt. Baker Vineyards, an excellent small production winery that has a nice tasting room and available tours.
The best place to stay while visiting this area is with Mt. Baker Lodging, which offers private cabin and condo rentals year round. Owner Dan Graham and the pleasant office staff can help you find exactly what you are looking for from rustic charm to plush, modern, executive homes, with or without hot tub, pet friendly or not, cozy romantic spaces for two or space enough for large groups in the hundreds can all be accommodated.
Mt Baker Lodging’s vacations homes offer a stunning variety of choices certain to fit just about any need. Amenities include fireplaces, hot tubs, saunas, game tables including billiards, ping pong and foosball, heated swimming pools, racquetball courts, tennis courts, and children’s playgrounds. The views from some of the cabins are of photographic quality. Far more luxurious than your average hotel or motel, these cabins are like home away from home. Everything is provided for you except food and a few other things. Most of the cabins are private, spacious and very comfortable. Best part is that the cost per person is much cheaper than most hotels and motels, making it an affordable slice of luxury.
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www.mtbakerchamber.org www.mtbakerlodging.com www.bellingham.org www.mysticinn.us www.mtbaker.us www.northforkbrewery.com Robert is a freelance journalist, painter and radio broadcaster