Motorcycle Touring: Chukanut Drive, Washington

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Skagit


Chukanut Drive

Ride Quietly, Meadowlarks Singing

Heading north up Chuckanut Drive from the I-5 exit north of Mt. Vernon is like cruising through the countryside of a European region. And then that sign appears: Please drive quietly, Meadowlarks singing.

22 miles of shear pleasure and no stop signs, Chuckanut Drive winds it's way north from Burlington to Bellingham taking the rider through various scenic expanses from meadowlands to a twisty spin along the coastline of Chuckanut Bay which beckons memories of Big Sur and the Redwood's of California. Along the way you'll see various wildlife, trees covered in liken, ferns and spectacular views of the San Juan Islands eastern slopes. 

Seems a lot of riders have stories about Chuckanut Drive.  Greg Beek, an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, had a friend he used to meet almost weekly at the Bellingham airport, and together they'd ride the drive. "But the best part was when we pulled into Chuckanut Manor for lunch."

Temperatures are typically a few degrees cooler along the drive, than in the adjoining cities at either end. Because of the immense amount of shade and scattered waterfalls the drive is well known for it's black ice, so cold weather riding below 40 degrees here is not advised.

Whether you ride a touring bike, cruiser or sport bike, Chuckanut has a little something for everyone from long flat straights to roller coaster like twisties. Along the way there are plenty of spots to pull out for a scenic panorama or enjoy food with a view.

Above: Chuckanut drive in the fall.

There are several historical markers worth pulling out and reading. One specifically points out this was originally highway one and connected with US 1 that ran from Mexico to the Canadian border before the days of US 99 and later Highway 5. The road is essentially the same architecture from when it was first built almost 100 years ago.

One of my favorite things to do is stay the night in Bellingham on a Saturday night during the summer. Sunday morning I get up at 5 a.m. and by 6 a.m. I'm on my way to the drive. On a summer Sunday morning there are very few cars on Chuckanut and the road can essentially be yours from one end to the other.

Fred Smith, owner of Skagit Harley Davidson sums up the end of the ride with the quintessential question, "Which way are you going to go back? I-5, or turn the bike around and head back the other direction on Chuckanut?" I'll take the latter thank you.

Patrick Thomas/Winter 2000 (updated Fall 2007)



  • Oyster Creek Inn, 190 Chuckanut Dr. 360/766-6179 

  • Rhododendron Cafe, 553 Chuckanut Dr. 360/766-6667

  • Chuckanut Manor, 3056 Chuckanut Dr. 360/766-6191

  • For a more extended listing visit the Chuckanut Drive website


  • Skagit Harley Davidson 360/757-1515

  • Skagit Powersports , Burlington 360-757-7999

  • Steel Dreams, Mt. Vernon 360/424-1323

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