Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center celebrates its 20th year by welcoming visitors to the North Cascades to see bald eagles that migrate from Canada and Alaska to feast on salmon that are returning to the river to spawn. Several activities welcome visitors to Rockport, Concrete and other areas along Highway 20 on Saturdays and Sundays through January.
The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center has displays, information and guided walks to help visitors learn about bald eagles and other local wildlife. U.S. Forest Service Field Rangers or Interpretive Center volunteers lead guided, drop-in, 90-minute nature hikes Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 29 along the Sauk-Skagit Reach trail in Howard Miller Steelhead Park. The hikes focus on eagles, salmon and the Skagit River watershed and are on mostly flat terrain, suitable for all ages. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park, but visitors are discouraged from bringing dogs out of consideration of others and wildlife.
Unless you’re an experienced eagle watcher, they can be difficult to spot. Expert help, spotting scopes and binoculars are available at U.S. Forest Service viewing stations at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, Sutter Creek Rest Area and Marblemount Fish Hatchery. Eagles are most likely to be spotted feeding in the morning before 11 a.m., and groups of eagles can sometimes be spotted in trees near the river. Visitors are reminded to not disturb the eagles by approaching them closely; a telephoto lens is the best way to get photos.
The town of Concrete hosts an Eagle Festival Experience Information Station with information, arts and crafts and souvenirs Saturdays and Sundays through January. Special events in Concrete include the 5K Salmon Run and Nature Walk and raptor presentations Saturday, Jan. 7, and Native American history, storytelling and music on Jan. 14 and 15 in Marblemount.
Plan ahead if you’re interested in U.S. Forest Service snowshoe walks at Snoqualmie Pass. Reservations are required and some sessions are sold out for the one-mile, 90-minute, moderate-pace walks through old-growth forest to learn about winter ecology, three times daily Saturdays and Sundays through March. No experience is required and snowshoes are provided. Reservations are also available for four- to five-hour walks Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March, photography-themed snowshoe walks, and 90-minute outings for kids on Saturdays.
The Summit at Snoqualmie Tubing Center is also popular for winter snow fun. Advance registration is available for two-hour sessions most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, weather and conditions permitting. Space is limited and sessions sometimes sell out. Tubes are provided; no personal sledding devices are permitted.
Snow play and guided snowshoe walks are also available at Mount Rainier National Park, weather, road and snow conditions permitting. Ranger-led two-hour, 1.8-mile snowshoe walks for ages 8 and older leave Jackson Visitor Center twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays through March 27, with sign-up available an hour before each walk, snowshoes included.
Mount Rainier’s snowplay area at Paradise is open, weather and snow conditions permitting. Only soft sliding devices, flexible sleds, saucers and inner tubes are permitted; no toboggans or sleds with runners are allowed. All vehicles entering Mount Rainier National Park are required to carry tire chains. Weather and road conditions can change quickly at Mount Rainier; call or check the website for updated weather and road conditions before heading there.