Larrabee State Park

Eroded sandstone at Larrabee State Park

One of my favorite places to explore the saltwater shoreline near Bellingham is Larrabee State Park . It’s just a few miles south of town on Chuckanut Drive, aka Washington highway 11. Larrabee is Washington’s oldest state park, established in 1915. Originally just 20 acres, the park now includes 2,683 acres from Bellingham Bay to forested upland ridges.

We’ve been visiting Larrabee since we arrived in Bellingham in 1990. For us it’s always a day trip, although the park is a popular camping destination for people who don’t live so close. If you go there with a camper van or and RV be sure to have checked your brake controller and oils properly, the steep hills can be quite taxing on such vehicles.

At low tide there are some nice tidepools, although you aren’t likely to see many sea stars these days due to the still somewhat mysterious sea star wasting disease that has nearly wiped out what were once prolific populations of these critters. Watch your footing on wet or seaweed covered rocks, as they can be quite slippery.

Eroded sandstone at Larrabee State Park

I’m particularly fond of the eroded Chuckanut sandstone that forms the shoreline. In many places the rock has a honeycomb appearance formed by weathering action. Geologist Dave Tucker goes into detail about how all those pockets formed if you’re interested. Late afternoon light accents the texture in the rocks. Every time I visit I find something new that I hadn’t seen before.

I hadn’t been down to Larrabee for a few months, so when the sun was shining at a low tide on February 1 I headed down there to spend a couple of hours exploring along the shore with my camera. There was another photographer also working the rocks, and several couples just out enjoying a fine winter day. I ended up making a lot of nice images over the couple of hours I spent. I selected my favorites to include in this 2-minute slideshow.

Larrabee is also a favorite location for family and senior portraits. Although a low tide gives more choices, even when the tide is in there are plenty of places that work for individuals and smaller families. I probably wouldn’t try to arrange a family of 20 on the rocks, but I suppose we could find a spot if your group is that large.

The portraits below are just a few of the ones I’ve photographed at Larrabee.

Portrait on the rocks at Larrabee

Sunset portrait at Larrabee

Family portrait at Larrabee

With winter’s short days, I stuck around to watch the sun set over Orcas Island and was still back in town for an evening event at 5:30.

Sunset over Orcas from Larrabee State Park

If you’ve never ventured down to Larrabee, I hope you’ve been inspired to visit.

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