The Daffodil fields in Skagit Valley are one of the most picturesque places I’ve had a chance to visit in a long time.
What makes the area so memorable is that many of the Daffodil fields are located against a backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks which gives a nice contrast between serene farmland and rugged wilderness.
Even though Skagit Valley is most famous for its Tulip Festival in April, the Daffodil season in March is also worth checking out. The best part is that since the Daffodils are overshadowed by the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (April 1 – April 30) it’s way less busy and accommodations are cheaper if you decide to stay the night.
Here is my ultimate 1-day itinerary to see all that the Skagit Valley Daffodil fields have to offer! In the itinerary, you’ll also find photography tips for each of the Daffodil field stops. Hopefully, these tips will help you capture the perfect photo to remember your trip by!
If you’re a beginner photographer or just want to learn more about landscape photography in general, make sure to check out this article too which goes over 51 of our favorite landscape photography tips.
Travel Note: The itinerary is based out of the city of Mount Vernon because that’s where we were staying, but feel free to change it up to what works best for you! If you want to take it slower and split this into a 2-day or 3-day itinerary that works perfectly fine too. It’s actually what we did because we have a 12-year-old Shih Tzu who isn’t the most travel-friendly.
Ultimate 1 Day Itinerary + Professional Daffodil Field Photography Tips
Stop 1: La Conner Waterfront Park
Start your day off by grabbing pastries or a to go breakfast from the La Conner Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe and head over to La Conner Waterfront Park for a breakfast picnic!
La Conner Waterfront Park is a quiet little spot under the famous Rainbow Bridge along the the Swinomish Channel. At the park you’ll find picnic tables, a walking path along the waterfront, a playground and hiking trails.
If you’re feeling adventurous and you’re staying longer than 1 day, you can actually take the hiking path all the way across the rainbow bridge.
If you’re just taking a day trip, don’t stay too long, though. There’s still alot of other places to see!
Stop 2: Christianson’s Nursery
The next stop is Christianson’s Nursery which is one of the most famous nurseries in Skagit Valley and arguably the entire state of Washington.
Granted I haven’t visited that many nurseries before, Christianson’s Nursery is probably one of the most beautiful, spacious and well thought out nurseries I’ve seen. One of the reasons we actually stopped by here was to scope out if it would be a good wedding venue for us (hehe), and the combination of its English Rose Garden, historical 1888 Meadow Schoolhouse and mini-farm (with an actual llama named Rosie(!), shy goats and red hens) makes this place a top contender for a beautiful, romantic and intimate wedding setting.
Their Front House and Propagation House also features beautifully restored glass greenhouses with seasonal year-round blooming flowers of annuals, nursery plants, and hanging baskets. With the soft cooing of their doves and the sunlight streaming through the glass panels of the greenhouse, this place is truly a garden lovers dream.
Primrose Antiques and Gifts:
This is their onsite gift shop which features a selection of hand-curated, unique gifts and treats from local businesses. A lot of the items for sale are seasonal and rotate depending on the time of year, such as their jams and marmalades. Their one-of-a-kind antiques from the shop are also now available online at Etsy! You can check out some of their offerings here: https://bit.ly/2OIQlBv
There is a daffodil field right across the street that you must stop by. The daffodil field is private so you can’t walk through the field, but you can still take photos of the landscape. When we went, there were even a couple of artists sitting there painting the scenery which gave it an extra aurora of peacefulness.
Because this Daffodil field is private, it makes it difficult to get a photo with a person in it. However, there are a couple of compositions that make a beautiful photograph in general.
Photo Tip: Composition #1
There is a path on the left side of the field that you can walk down. From this angle, you can capture the Daffodil field with a row of trees behind the field which makes a nice composition.
The best way to capture this composition is to zoom in slightly to compress the background and to use a narrower aperture to keep all the image in focus. Compressing the background will visually bunch the Daffodils together creating a more “full” look and will increase the size of the trees. Since you’ll be zooming in, using a minimum aperture of at least f/7 will allow you to keep most of the image in focus.
- Aperture: f/7.1
- Shutter Speed: 1/125
- ISO: 100
- Focal Length: 65mm
Photo Tip 2: Composition #2
Another composition here is straight on from the road with the mountains in the background. Similar to composition #1, use a zoom lens to compress the mountains behind the field to make them look larger in the image.
The nice thing about this composition is that you don’t need a massive zoom focal length.
For this image, I used a 70mm focal length with a full-frame camera. This is equivalent to a ~50mm focal length with an APS-C sensor camera or 35mm focal length with a Micro Four Thirds sensor camera.
As you’ll be zoomed in, make sure to use a minimum aperture of at least f/7 to keep the all of the image in focus.
- Aperture: f/7.1
- Shutter Speed: 1/160
- ISO: 100
- Focal Length: 70mm
Stop 3: Daffodil Field on Calhoun Road
GPS Coordinates: 48°23’57.0″N 122°24’22.6″W; 48.399162, -122.406278
This is another private daffodil field so you can’t walk through the Daffodil field. However, it’s right next to the road so it’s an easy stop and makes for some great pictures.
The reason why I like this field so much is how you’re able to get right up to the edge of it, unlike the Daffodil field across the street from Christianson’s Nursery.
Additionally, the edge of the road is higher than the Daffodil field so you’re able to take a photo at a slightly downward angle. This can give the appearance of a person standing at the edge of an endless expansion of daffodils, which is pretty cool.
Photo Tip: Endless Daffodil Field
To get the best result, you’ll need to use an equivalent focal length of ~70mm (double-check). As the photographer, stand on the edge of the road while the model is at the edge of the daffodil field.
Raise your camera over your head and point it at a slight downward angle.
Now, compose your image so that the dirt path in front of the daffodil field is not showing (this will cut off the feet of the person in the image which is ok).
The higher you can angle your camera downward the better your results will be. We actually brought a little stepping stool and used it to get up higher, but you can also use a chair or even sit on a friend’s shoulder.
Stop 4: RoozenGaarde
Now head over to RoozenGaarde which is a world-famous family farm that specializes in Tulips, Daffodils, and Irises. Even though they’re most known for Tulips, the Daffodil field behind their display garden is a must-see.
RoozenGaarde is split up into three parts; the gift shop, the display garden area, and the Daffodil field. We went a little early in the Daffodil season so entry was free, but after March 25th the price will be $15 per person, and includes access to RoozenGaarde’s 5 acre Display Garden, 25 acre Tulip field, and 20 acre Daffodil field. Children ages 2 and under are free, and unfortunately, pets are not allowed in the gardens.
In the gift shop you’ll find a large selection of unique garden gifts, Tulip Festival merchandise, fresh cut tulip bulbs and flowers. And unlike the gardens and fields at RoozenGaarde, their gift shop is open year-round!
The display garden is where RoozenGaarde plants a variety of different colored Tulips in different patterns and styles.
Since it’s mainly for the Tulip Festival, there’s not much to see in the display garden if you come just for the Daffodil field. However, depending on if you come closer to the dates of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival / Tulip Season (April 1 – April 30) you might see some of the Tulips starting to bloom.
The 20 acre RoozenGaarde Daffodil Field is one of the largest in the area and the reason why you need to make sure to visit during your Daffodil tour.
The reason why I like this field so much is that there are two Daffodil patches split by a main road. This allows you to easily walk the entire length of the Daffodil field, which allows you to capture photos from different angles.
Photo Tip: RoozenGaarde Daffodil Field
I think one of the best photo compositions at the RoozenGaarde Daffodil Field is from the beginning of the field at the left Daffodil patch.
From this location, you’re able to capture the Daffodil field, mountain range in the background, and a red barn in the middle of the composition.
The best part is that you’re taking this photo against the grain of the rows of Daffodils. This will help you visually make the Daffodil field look more plush and full in the image, especially if you use a zoom focal length of at least a 70mm.
For this photo, I used the following settings. I was lucky that it was a sunny day which allowed me to keep the shutter speed relatively fast and ISO low without the need for a tripod.
- Aperture f/11
- Shutter Speed 1/160
- ISO 80
- Focal length 70mm
The most important part of executing this photo is to use a narrower aperture (around f/11) and a focal length of around 70mm.
The narrower aperture will allow you to keep most of the image sharp and the zoom focal length of at least 70mm will allow you to compress the image which will make the mountains appear larger and visually bunch the Daffodils together.
In this case, it’s important to use a narrower aperture of at least f/11 because of the distance between the foreground and the background.
Stop 5: Daffodil Field Across from RoozenGaarde
This was our favorite Daffodil field the entire trip and is the perfect one to end at for sunset. It’s located right across the street from Roozengaarde so you can’t miss it.
What makes this Daffodil field special is that you can actually walk through the field unlike the other Daffodil fields I’ve gone over.
Plus, the field is pretty big, so even if there are a lot of people, you’ll probably be able to find a corner all to yourself. At the time we went, it was free to get in, but depending on when you go during the spring, there might be an entrance fee.
What makes this such a breathtaking photo spot is because of its location to the setting sun. Here are some tips on how we captured our photos:
Photo Tip #1 – Use an App like PhotoPills to Plan for the Sunset
For image #1 “Into the Sun”, I used PhotoPills to plan out exactly what location and what time the sun would set behind the mountain range as this is the perfect time to create a sun star.
I think it would have been possible to execute this shot without the app, but using PhotoPills took out the guesswork and made it easier.
To shoot a sun star you will have to:
- Use the right aperture. Usually, you will be able to create sun stars by using a small aperture between f/16 to f/22 but this will depend on your lens.
- Capture the sun as it peeks around a solid element like the horizon, tree, mountain range, etc.
- Have the right conditions. If the atmosphere is too cloudy, hazy or foggy, you’ll probably not be able to capture a sun star.
- Aperture: f/16
- Shutter Speed: 1/125
- Focal Length: 24mm
- ISO: 1600
Photo Tip #2 – Go Against the Grain of the Row of Daffodils
To compose the picture like this image, “The Girl and the Moon” have your model walk down a row of Daffodils that is 7 – 10 rows away from you. Compose your shot diagonally against the row of Daffodils and get low to the ground so you can capture Daffodils in the foreground of your composition.
To get the best results, use a wider aperture like f/2.8 so you can blur out the Daffodils in the foreground. Depending on where your model is positioned, it might also be easier to use manual focus instead of autofocus.
- Aperture: f/2.8
- Shutter Speed: 1/160
- Focal Length: 40mm
- ISO: 400
Where to Stay If Making a Multi Day Trip
City to Stay In – Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon is a great place to stay and make your home base. I liked it because it’s cheaper since it’s not directly next to the fields. It’s also a pretty big city, so you can find hotels in convenient locations that are right next to restaurants and stores.
Budget Hotel Recommendation – Tulip Inn
This is where we stayed. If you’re looking for a budget accommodation in a good location, I highly recommend the Tulip Inn.
It’s nothing fancy, but the rooms are clean, the staff is very friendly, it’s located next to a bunch of restaurants and only a 10 minute drive to the Daffodil fields.
Plus, they’re pet-friendly which was a must for us as we brought Sushi our Shih-Tzu along. Each room also comes equipped with a microwave and mini-fridge.
If at all possible, try to visit during the week and avoid weekends. We went early in the week and had most places almost to ourselves.
However, we could see the rows and rows of parking spaces being set up so weekends are probably busy. I’ve also heard of the roads getting pretty congested on the weekends as they are only two lane country roads that aren’t meant to take on a large inflow of traffic.
Where to Eat in Mount Vernon
What surprised me the most about the Mount Vernon area is just how many delicious food choices there are. Here are our favorite places that we ate at during our short trip.
- Burgermaster – if you’ve never been here before, it’s definitely a must try for any of you burger lovers! Burgermaster is a drive in restaurant like Sonic and offers a good selection of different burgers, sandwiches and shakes at a reasonable price.
- Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe & Bakery – if you have a craving for pastries or a nice countryside breakfast this is the place to go! They’re most well known for their cinnamon rolls and everyone raves about them.
- Rachawadee Thai Cafe – a very yummy Thai restaurant that’s reasonably priced!