Need some help with that Pacific Northwest bucket list of adventures?
Imagine hanging from a rope at the top of a 300-foot Douglas Fir, solving a puzzle leading to a team “escape,” diving into an Olympic size pool or walking on a beach with opportunities to see osprey, seabirds and state ferries moving between islands. When it comes to eye candy, Anacortes and the surrounding region have much to tantalize – even from a moving vehicle. But we encourage our out-of-town guests to park the car, stay awhile and step out to exciting experiences they will never forget. Those opportunities come in all varieties, both outdoors and indoors. A sampling of the Anacortes adventures menu includes the following:
This is a one-of-a-kind Washington State eco-business whose theme song could be: “Up, Up and Away!”
Washington State native Leo Fischer and his team are committed to sharing their passion for rock and tree climbing with clients of all ages and experience levels. Recreational tree climbing, also known as canopy climbing, represents a chance to become part of a very elite population of outdoor enthusiasts. Drawing from years of experience, AdventureTerra extends its invitation to clients as young as seven (minors require consent form), with no climbing experience necessary.
“Canopy tree climbing is a progression,” notes Fischer. “You will start first by receiving all of your equipment, followed by safety talks and learning how to use climbing equipment. Then we go up! We keep it safe and easy to make sure you are having fun. If you can do a squat (as in P.E. class), you can climb with us.”
This adventure is made even more memorable by the fact that it takes place in the renowned Deception Pass State Park, a public jewel straddling Fidalgo and Whidbey islands, connected by two iconic steel bridges built in 1935. Fisher moved his young company from Bainbridge Island to Deception Pass this year, capitalizing on a concession offer from the state parks. “It is really wonderful that they’ve opened up this activity in the state’s most popular park,” said Fischer. “We couldn’t ask for a better place … a perfect setting with amazing forest, bluff and beach views. I personally took Park Manager Jack Hart on a climb, and he loved it.”
AdventureTerra’s rock climbing adventures are offered primarily at nearby Mt. Erie on Fidalgo Island. Again, adventures are designed according to the abilities of the client and all required equipment is provided. The climbing opportunities are seasonal. Visit their website for more information.
Skagit Guided Adventures
After more than 20 years as a naturalist/guide, Stephanie Fernandez fell in love with Anacortes and decided to embark on a new career adventure. She invites you to “re-wild your spirit!”
“I’ve worked for many different ecotourism companies in several states and three different countries,” said Fernandez. “I came to Anacortes six years ago and I thought, ‘Why don’t I do my own tours?’ I decided to launch out on my own, and I’ve had a great time catering to the interests and experience levels of small groups of clients ever since.”
Fernandez is a one-woman operation, catering to small groups, from families and friends to company teams. Rather than a skimpy offering of recreational “hors d’oeuvres,” her menu of adventures includes “full course meals” ranging from beach and forest walks to hikes in the breathtaking North Cascades. On the local scene, she points out: “Anacortes and Fidalgo Island host the most protected forest lands and lakes in the San Juan Island archipelago. In town and just minutes away, you can enjoy coastal trails, a myriad of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife, colorful wildflowers and lookouts that boast 360-degree views!”
Her Anacortes “Wild Side” eco-tour takes you on short hikes around coastal parks and forests in search of local “residents” including bald eagles, harbor porpoises, shorebirds, river otters, osprey, beavers and more! Back in “the world,” Fernandez’s tours include local museums, shops and restaurants. You can expect to learn a great deal about this community’s history and commerce, past and present. See their website for more information.
Skagit Land Trust
Skagit Land Trust was founded in 1992 by three visionary leaders and 31 charter members. The Trust is recognized as an innovative leader in conservation, and the organization encourages public use of lands under its care.
Staff, board members, and 400 active volunteers are joined by more than 1,000 family and business members to protect the most important and beloved places in Skagit County. Today, the amount of land and habitat protected by the Trust has grown to more than 7,000 acres, including more than 33 miles of shoreline.
Included in the organization’s package titled “25 Skagit Adventures” are the following:
Fidalgo Bay. Park at Fidalgo Bay Resort and walk the Tommy Thompson Trail. The tidelands south of the railroad trestle were purchased with public funds and are protected as part of the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve, managed by the state Department of Natural Resources. Tidelands are protected permanently by a conservation easement held by the Skagit Land Trust. Friends of Skagit Beaches have installed numerous interpretive signs along the wheelchair accessible trail.
Anacortes Forest Lands. Take a hike in the Anacortes Community Forestlands. Since 1998 hundreds of donors to the Friends of the Forest and the City of Anacortes have made it possible to permanently protect 1,680 acres of this forest with conservation easements held by Skagit Land Trust. Trails lead to wetlands, lakes and mountain summits. You can hike for an hour or all day.
Check Friends of the Forest calendar to join others on naturalist hikes. For details on the above hikes and more, see their website for more information.
This name does not suggest what you might think at first glance. If you and your group are thinking “indoors,” consider the intriguing new “Escape Anacortes” adventure located just a half-block off the main street near the main highway entrance to town.
You don’t have to be a Harry Houdini to tackle this challenge. An escape room is a “live action puzzle game” in which a series of riddles, locks and mysteries must be solved in a prescribed time to win. Escape Anacortes is designed for people 12 years of age or older and a team approach to the game is encouraged. Puzzles are interactive, but don’t require much in the way of strength or agility. Almost everything in the room is going to be part of the puzzle, and don’t worry: no one is actually “locked in.”
Game themes include “Violet’s Escape” and “The Smuggler.” In the smuggler game, participants act as a team of sheriff’s deputies to search a secret hideout and find the evidence needed to convict the perp. In Violet’s Escape, Great Grandma Violet’s spirit has remained in the family home “for far too many generations.” Your team is called to “solve the mystery she left behind and allow her troubled soul to escape.” See their website for current room theme, times and available dates.
Fidalgo Pool & Fitness Center
Another indoor recreation option is the city’s Olympic sized pool and fitness center. A highlight for many families on the road is the chance for a refreshing break in a swimming pool. Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center in Anacortes offers that opportunity and more!
The public pool features a 25-meter X 25-yard, 280,000 gallon pool. The water is treated with an ultraviolet system. Chlorine use is minimal and prevention from water-borne illnesses is optimal. Average water temperature is 83 degrees and splash “accessories” include a water slide, one-meter diving board, Wibit course and inner tubes! Also open to the public is the public fitness center with an array of equipment and a generous schedule of classes. This facility offers SilverSneakers and Silver&Fit, two great programs for eligible adults 65 and older.
See their website for details about hours and fees (note: pool and locker rooms will be closed for maintenance from August 12-20).
by Steve Berentson