Larrabee: Washington’s First State Park

Larrabee State Park has been one of our favorite quick destinations for years. Only an hour’s drive from our home, the park instantly offers a welcomed change of pace and a sense of being far away.

The park is set on the seaward side of Chuckanut Mountain, off the famed Chuckanut Drive, and offers postcard views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands. Visitors have their choice of activities from camping, hiking and biking trails, birding and wildlife viewing, salt-water swimming, diving and beach exploration, and shellfish harvesting in season. One of our favorite hikes is to Clayton Beach, which features rare sandstone cliff formations and tide pools teeming with life. In addition to the impressive salt-water beaches, two nearby freshwater lakes, Fragrance and Lost lakes offer bass and trout fishing. A lush growth of Northwest foliage abounds: Douglas fir, western red cedar, alder, hemlock, bigleaf maple, willows, rhododendrons and sword fern.

Larrabee features 85 campsites: 51 standard, 26 full-utility and 8 primitive sites, plus a group camp that can accommodate 40 people. A working train track runs through the park and west of the campground. The park has a boat ramp and a large day-use area with a covered shelter.

Twenty acres of land was originally donated to the State of Washington by the Larrabee family in 1915. The donated land was envisioned as a scenic park/auto campground to complement the Chuckanut Drive section of the nearby completed Pacific Highway. That year, Larrabee officially became the first state park in Washington. Later, the family donated another 1,500 acres. The park now stands at more than 2,600 acres. Many of the park’s original buildings are still in use today, as well as a bandshell built in 1944.

Larrabee State Park is located on Chuckanut Drive, just south of Bellingham, Washington. If you’re in the area, check out this prime park. Maybe we’ll see you there!

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