Riding Mount Baker Highway to Artist Point

September 22, 2016/Jonathan Rundle/0 Comments

Mount Baker Highway is a National Forest Scenic Byway that takes you from I-5 at Bellingham to the top of Mount Baker. A total length of 60 miles, things only start to get good at Glacier, WA, which is about 35 miles into the journey from I-5.

Also known as State Route 542, the road is not a mountain pass. It’s a dead end road that terminates at Mount Baker Ski Area.

Riding Mount Baker Highway

It’s not everyday I get to run up onto a Porsche 911 Gt3 RS and pressure it out of my way.

Riding Mount Baker Highway

The fun really begins once we gain some elevation and leave the ski cabins behind. Here the guardrails disappear and the views open up to show the Cascade Range.

Riding Mount Baker Highway

Just past the ski area is the road to Artist Point.

The road to Artist Point typically opens in July and remains open until the first substantial snowfall of the year, which usually comes in late September or early October. From here, the final 2.7 miles of the road is mostly switchback—and incredible views.

Riding Mount Baker HighwayRiding Mount Baker HighwayRiding Mount Baker HighwayMotorcycling Artist Point / Mount Baker

Artist Point is a pretty popular spot for summer hiking and winter snowshoeing. The ride to the top was traffic-free, but as the panorama photo shows, a lot of people came up on this lovely day to explore nature.

Artist Point Parking lot

Mount Shuksan (9,131′) is the star of the eastern view, and Mount Baker (10,781′) is the star of the western view. Let’s start with Shuksan.

Mount Shuksan Panorama from Artist PointMotorcycling Artist Point / Mount BakerWhitney with Mount ShuksanMount Shuksan and Artist PointMount Shuksan

Mount Baker’s peak was shrouded in clouds during our visit, unfortunately, but it makes for a more interesting sky.

Mount Baker at Artist PointMount Baker at Artist point

Past Mount Baker there are views down the valley to Baker Lake and Baker River. Out that-a-way is also North Cascades Highway, another great motorcycle road.

Artist PointFlower at Artist Point

A few more photos of the road on the way back down…

Motorcycling Artist Point / Mount BakerMount Shuksan

And a final parting shot at the appropriately named “Picture Lake” just before leaving the ski area.

Picture Lake Mount Shuksan

Visit

If you hope to ride the road, you’ll need to do it in July – September. Depending on the snow level, it may not open all the way to the top until later. The road to Artist Point closes at the first significant snowfall.

If you’re headed back to I-5, I suggest dinner in Bellingham. Try Boomer’s for drive-in style fare, or go downtown to one of the hip gastropubs or breweries if you’re looking for something more refined. Also, don’t miss riding Chuckanut Drive, which is where we headed next.

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