Eagle Viewing Sites
Where To See Eagles
Eagles feed along the river in the early morning. On cloudy, rainy days, in late morning and early afternoon, eagles roost along the river. While on sunny days they soar over the valley.
Picture taking: Most of the viewing sites face the south, so on sunny days the sun shines into the camera lens.
Four places, staffed with volunteer guides with telescopes, to begin your eagle watching adventure are:
- Skagit River Interpretive Center
- Mile Post 100 Rest Area on Highway 20
- Howard Miller Steelhead County Park
- Marblemount Fish Hatchery
A great spot is the Bald Eagle Natural Area, a State Fish and Wildlife viewing site on Martin Road, off SR 530, just south of the Skagit River bridge. The sun will be behind you.
Watchable Wildlife Consider helping support the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) programs by purchasing a "Watchable Wildlife" decal.
The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center – Located in Rockport, WA in Howard Miller Steelhead Park is open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. We lead guided walks to eagle watching sites in Howard Miller Steelhead Park at 11:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays. Guest speakers present slide presentations about the river, local history, geology, eagles, or salmon every Saturday at 1:00 pm. The Center has a souvenir shop, free information, directions to the Eagle Watcher sites. We even have distant, but great views of eagles on the Skagit and Sauk rivers. Stop at the Interpretive Center and find out exactly where to go during your visit to see bald eagles on the Skagit River.
U.S. Forest Service & North Cascades Institute Eagle Watcher Sites
North Cascades Institute and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff three sites with trained Eagle Watcher volunteers to answer questions, provide information, and help you locate bald eagles through their spotting scopes and binoculars. Look for the yellow "Eagle Watcher" signs at Mile Post 100 on Highway 20, Howard Miller Steelhead County Park and the Marblemount Fish Hatchery. Together with the Interpretive Center, Eagle Watcher volunteers help visitors safely see bald eagles while minimumly disturbing the eagles themselves. These locations have trash cans, restroom facilities, ample parking, great staff and great views of eagles! See our Eagle Watching tips to prepare yourself for this experience.
- Howard Miller Steelhead Park, Rockport – Located near the Interpretive Center, the park is accessible from Alfred Street in Rockport, or from State Route 530, near the bridge over the Skagit River. The Eagle Watcher staff is set up in the park near the bridge. The best vantage point is from the bridge, looking upstream to gravel bars, and the trees along the river. Please, use the sidewalk on the bridge to stay out of the road. The Park has interpretive displays, flush toilets, a boat ramp, water, tent and RV camping with hookups, and a waste removal site for RV's. Hiking trails at the west end of the camping areas lead to more riverside viewing sites.
- Milepost 100 Rest Area, at Sutter Creek on State Route 20 – The Skagit River runs directly next to this popular site affording the visitor a great view of feeding areas on the gravel bars on the south side of the river. The site offers plenty of parking, picnic tables, portable toilets, a boat launch, and interpretive displays. The forests on the mountainside are a prime eagle night-roosting site.
- Marblemount Fish Hatchery – At Marblemount, cross the Skagit River bridge and proceed past the entrance to the Marblemount Boat Launch (the starting place for bald eagle rafting trips and the location of a very nice bird-watching loop walk that follows the Skagit and Cascade Rivers). Continue past the boat launch for about a half mile, then turn right on the Rockport-Cascade Road, cross the Cascade River Bridge, and take the next right to the Fish Hatchery. Tours are offered Saturdays and Sundays from the last weekend in December through mid-February (tour times to be posted later). Knowledgeable guides take you into the hatchery to explain how eagles relate to the lifecycle of the Pacific Salmon. Visitors get to see living salmon eggs and alevin in the hatchery and can feed the fish in the outdoor pens (great fun for kids!). Besides fish, the hatchery river frontage offers great views of eagles, hawks, blue herons, ducks, and dippers. A short path follows the inlet stream for the hatchery down to the Cascade River. The inlet is often crowded with spawning or dead chum, Coho, or steelhead. Picnic tables, flush toilets, and an indoor heated exhibit room are available.
Washington Eddy, Rockport (Milepost 99, SR 20) – Please note that trees and vegetation have grown up to obscure river viewing at this site. It is no longer staffed by Eagle Watcher volunteers and the interpretive displays have been removed. It remains a great bird watching area and features a large beaver lodge.
The North Cascades National Park Visitor Center in Newhalem —
The visitor center is closed in the winter
To visit the North Cascades Visitor Center continue on Highway 20 passed Marblemount for about 16 miles to Newhalem (use caution as icey conditions are more common north of Marblemount). The Visitor Center has interpretive exhibits on the formation of the North Cascade mountain range and Skagit Valley, native plants, and hands-on exhibits for children. Check out the Park film, slideshow, bookstore, and souvenir shop. There are miles of easy and accessible trails near the Visitor Center that will take you through old growth forest and close the Skagit River, bald eagles, and spawned-out salmon. A 300 foot walk from the Visitor Center leads to an incredible view of the mighty Pickett Range.
While in Newhalem, it is worthwhile to visit Gorge Powerhouse. Walk out on the suspension bridge over the Skagit River and you are likely to see hundreds of salmon swimming around wondering why they can go no further. Above the powerhouse, the entire Skagit River flows through a tunnel from the Gorge Dam several miles upstream. Continue across the bridge to begin a short but delightful walk to the roaring waterfall on Ladder Creek.