‘We are experiencing a near tulip overload’ and it’s your last chance to see it this year

It’s the last weekend of the 2019 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and the flowers are a brightly colored delight in the fields as they reach peak bloom.

That’s according to a Facebook post by RoozenGaarde, the grower behind all the tulips visitors see in the fields around Mount Vernon this time of the year and one of the businesses with a stunning display garden that’s open to public.

The cool weather has made for a rich color display, according to RoozenGaarde.

“Tuesday at RoozenGaarde and guess what? The garden is STILL filling with color! This is one benefit from a cool spring. The early blooming tulips stay flowering so long that they overlap with the late blooming types and, of course, the mid-flowering varieties as well. We are experiencing a near tulip overload around here!” the post reads.

RoozenGaarde is also the keeper of the online “bloom map,” which tells visitors of “outstanding color” through the end of the April.

The annual festival continues through Tuesday, April 30.

Cooler weather means Skagit Valley tulip fields in Mount Vernon, Wash., on April 24, 2019, are particularly colorful as the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival comes to an end for the year. April 30 is the last day of the festival. David Rasbach The Bellingham Herald

If you’re heading to the festival this weekend, here’s what you need to know:

It will be a busy weekend. “Enjoy the tulips, obey the traffic restrictions, pack your patience and take lots of pictures,” Cindy Verge, executive director of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival,” told The Bellingham Herald on Thursday.

The forecast for Mount Vernon is partly sunny skies with a 50 percent chance of showers on Saturday and mostly sunny on Sunday, with daytime temps of 55 to 60 degrees.

If you haven’t been, time’s running out to see the tulips in Skagit Valley.

“The fields and gardens are blooming and they will be there through the weekend,” Verge said. “They are still looking pretty good as the weather has been mild and cool without a lot of wind and heavy rain. However, this is getting toward the end of the season, so people need to come if they want to see the tulips before they are gone for 2019. “

Go early to beat the crowds. You can see the blooms by car or bike any time, but there will be a lot less traffic early in the day.

The RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town display gardens both open at 9 a.m., and it’s worth it to be there then.

Check a map to optimize tulip time

Download or print out this map. It’s helpful, especially if you’re planning on a driving or bicycling tour.

The tulip fields are west of the Skagit River and miles apart and while there are signs designating a tulip route, it’s a little confusing without a map.

If you’re driving, be patient and keep your eyes open for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles. You’ll be on two-lane country roads and sometimes there will be farm equipment trundling in front of you or drivers besotted by the flowers’ bright colors and possibly inching into your lane.

The best experience, we think, is at The RoozenGaarde or Tulip Town display gardens.

Yes, you have to pay an entry fee to get into the gardens, but once you’re inside you can wander down rows and through acres of dazzlingly bright tulips in bloom without worrying that you’re going to wander into traffic.

Admission at both businesses is $5-$10 per person. Children 5 and younger get in for free.

“Peak tulip” greets Skagit Valley Tulip Festival visitors in the RoozenGaarde tulip fields in Mount Vernon, Wash., on April 25, 2019. David Rasbach The Bellingham Herald

Festival traffic tips

Speaking of traffic, the tulip festival draws a lot of visitors from the region, around the U.S. and parts of the world.

So the Washington State Department of Transportation wants to remind people to expect peak festival traffic on weekends and at the State Route 536/Kincaid Street exit from Interstate 5.

At its busiest on the weekend, especially when the weather is sunny, traffic can clog Mount Vernon and back up onto I-5. So consider these alternate exits:

Exit 230 (SR 20/Burlington/Anacortes): State Route 20 is good for drivers traveling from the north or those from the south who want to avoid the congested traffic in town.

From State Route 20, turn south on Best Road and then at the McLean Road roundabout, decide where to go to see tulips —RoozenGaarde, Tulip Town or one of the fields.

Exit 221 (SR 534/Conway/La Conner): Northbound travelers can avoid backups farther up I-5 by taking this exit and going west toward Conway.

Leave your drones at home. They’re not allowed in the display gardens or the tulip fields, and neither are pets.

More details are online at tulipfestival.org, including where to find bathrooms, and on the festival’s Facebook page.

Or go to the Tulip Festival office and store: 311 W. Kincaid St. in Mount Vernon. 360-428-5959.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.