When it comes to jaw-dropping scenic views in Washington state, Artist Point at Mt Baker is quite possibly our absolute favorite spot. It’s a place that blows us away every time we visit, and it never gets old.
With views of both the iconic Mt Shuksan and Mt Baker towering above, the alpine landscape is pretty hard to beat. And with many easy to hike paths and trails in the area, the payoff for the amount of effort is unmatched.
With a name like Artist Point, it comes as no surprise that the hikes and roads in this area are truly other-worldly. Everywhere you turn, there’s a picturesque landscape that feels like it came straight out of a painting.
If you’re traveling or road tripping in Washington and are looking for the best of the best, Artist Point at Mount Baker is it. And our guide covers all the must-know details about when you should visit (including details on winter road closures), which towns you should stay in, and what hikes we love in the area.
Basically, we’ve crafted the complete guide to all things Artist Point at Mount Baker that we wished existed back when we first visited this Washington gem.
Disclosure: We’ve included lodging near Artist Point at Mt Baker and gear recommendations in this guide. If you choose to book or buy through our links, we may earn a commission, at no cost to you. Shopping through these links helps support our small business and allows us to continue creating this free content. All recommendations are crafted with love and expertise, from platforms we use and trust for our own adventures, both in Washington and beyond.
Directions to from Bellingham, WA
If you’re traveling to Artist Point at Mt Baker from Bellingham, Washington, you’ll take State Route 542 eastbound. 542 is also known as Mount Baker Highway, and is the route you’ll take all the way up to Artist Point.
That said, you’ll have to navigate past four roundabouts on your way. At the first one (located before you hit Nugents Corner), you’ll take the second exit.
The next roundabout is at Nugents Corner, and again, you’ll take the second exit (still staying on Mt Baker Highway).
The third roundabout will be near Deming, Washington, and again, you’ll take the second exit to stay on 542.
The final roundabout is in Kendall, Washington, where you’ll take the first exit. After this, you’ll just continue driving straight up Mt Baker Highway to get to Artist Point.
Note: the final 2.7 miles of Mt Baker Highway to Artist Point is closed for much of the year, so where you park will depend on when you visit. We’ll provide more details on this in the next section.
How to Get to There in Summer vs Winter
The last few miles to Artist Point on Mt Baker Highway closes at milepost 54.7 in October. The specific date is dependent on winter weather conditions, but it’s typically mid to late October.
The final miles of road to the parking lot at Artist Point opens up in June (again, the specific date is also dependent on weather).
Outside of the summer/early fall time window, you’ll have to hike/snowshoe to Artist Point, and you can park at Heather Meadows (48.861521, -121.682462).
Just be aware of ski traffic from people going to the Mt Baker Ski Area…leaving very early in the morning is helpful for snagging a parking spot.
When the full road is open, Artist Point is the end point on Mt Baker Highway. Simply drive to the top and you end up at the large parking lot (the GPS coordinates we provided above).
If you’re visiting Artist Point at Mt Baker in the winter, driving in an AWD vehicle or having tire chains handy is a good idea. This area of Washington, especially at higher elevations, collects a lot of snow, and it’s best to be prepared for winter driving conditions.
In our humble opinions, if you were to only visit one place in all of Washington state, make it Artist Point.
Don’t get us wrong, we love iconic spots like Mt Rainier National Park, but Artist Point is truly in a league of its own. You have a wide assortment of easy to difficult trails for all adventure skill levels, so there’s something for everyone.
Plus, there’s access to skiing nearby at the Mt Baker Ski Area, if you’re visiting in the winter.
And the mountain views at Artist Point are unmatched; we’d even argue that Mt Baker is just as scenic as Mt Rainier.
It goes without saying, but Washington state is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the entire US. Want to see the best of the best? Our Washington state road trip guide covers all our favorites.
Where you park when visiting Artist Point at Mt Baker will really depend on the time of year you plan on visiting.
If you’re driving to Artist Point in the summer when the last 2.7 miles of Mt Baker Highway are open, you can park in the parking lot at the end of the road (48.846498, -121.692800).
If you’re hiking to Artist Point in the winter, you can park at Heather Meadows (48.861521, -121.682462) and snowshoe up from there.
Unless you’re hiking to Artist Point in the winter, Artist Point itself is technically not a hike: it’s a hub to other hikes that branch out from the Artist Point parking lot (located at the coordinates we included earlier).
From that parking lot, you’ll have a few hikes you can access:
Washington summers are unreal, and Artist Point at Mt Baker is no exception to this. Personally, summer is our favorite season to visit.
During these warmer months, the stunning dark greens of coniferous growth march up the mountainside, eventually thinning out and giving way to the lighter-shaded grasses and shrubs.
The rich and lush greenery is one of the things we love most about Washington, and it’s at its peak in the summertime.
Plus, you’ll also find the mountainside dotted in the prettiest wildflowers when you visit in the summer. If you ask us, mid-August, is hands-down the best time.
Not only is the full road to Artist Point at Mt Baker open in the summer months (no alternate snowshoe hike to get to the top), but the trails are at their most accessible. You’re not navigating through snow that’s multiple feet deep or using spikes to grip into icier sections.
And then there’s the perk of being at altitude in the height of summer: it never really gets super hot. In fact, you can expect it to be a bit chilly at sunrise and sunset.
Winter is also an incredible season to visit Artist Point at Mt Baker, but it does involve a lot more work and preparation. You’ll need to come stocked with the right winter gear (more on this later), and it’s recommended that you have avalanche training, as this area is prone to them.
Not to mention, the snowshoe route to Artist Point isn’t always the easiest to follow, given all the tracks up there can make it a bit confusing. It can be easy to get lost, and with the low temps and pretty high humidity, dealing with those biting conditions for long isn’t always fun.
Don’t get us wrong, the winter wonderland payoff is incredible, but there’s no denying the complications that come with hiking to Artist Point in the colder months.
If there’s one thing you can count on in the PNW, it’s that wild weather is likely around the corner. And there’s no other place where that’s more true than in the mountains, especially at high elevation spots like Artist Point at Mt Baker.
In general, high elevation mountain locations are more prone to rain and snow. And when you’re planning on visiting picturesque spots like Artist Point, where panoramic mountain views are part of the reason for going, you want to keep this in mind.
In addition to rain and snow, clouds and fog come and go quickly here. Plan to visit over a few days, as it’s common for Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan to be shrouded in clouds.
It’s best to come prepared for all seasons, even if you’re visiting in the warmer months. Take for example one of our more recent visits to Artist Point.
Within a few minutes, skies went from clear blue with no sign of clouds, to us being engulfed in swirling folds of cloud cover and fog so thick we couldn’t see more than five feet in front of us. Our clothing got wet, and our hands went numb (in the middle of August, no less).
Within the hour, the clouds had cleared and sunset was upon us. Wild, to say the least.
Pro Tip: High altitude thunderstorms are most likely in the afternoons and evenings, when the weather is at its warmest. For more predictable weather, opt to arrive for sunrise. Not only will it be easier to find parking, but you’ll also be more likely to catch those iconic panoramic views.
The closest town to Artist Point is Glacier, WA, located about 24 miles away. Other options for places to stay include Maple Falls (about 32 miles away) and Deming (about 45 miles away).
But if you’re looking for the greatest variety of lodging options, Bellingham will be your best bet (plus, you’ll have access to plenty of restaurants and coffee shops).
We’ve included lodging options in all of these spots to get you started, with a mixture of remote and close-to-town spots:
Think a hotel is more your vibe? The Heliotrope Hotel is perfect if you’re looking for a clean and modern vibe. And it’s dog-friendly, if you’re traveling to Artist Point and Mt Baker with your pup.
We may be biased (Colorado is home, after all), but there’s something magical about the Rocky Mountains. Our guide to CO’s best mountain towns covers our favorite spots for outdoors adventures.
No, car camping is not allowed at Artist Point at Mt Baker. We get it, with a popular spot like this, finding parking isn’t always the easiest. That’s why we recommend doing one of two things to score parking:
Yes, the road to Artist Point, Mt Baker Highway (also known as State Route 542), is paved the entire way through, making it an easy drive in the summer months for any type of vehicle.
Just remember: the last 2.7 miles to Artist Point (which is the end of the Mt Baker Highway) is closed from October to June (specific closing and opening dates are weather-dependent).
You can drive your vehicle below the closure point, but during winter, we highly recommend taking an AWD vehicle or having tire chains or snow tires, given the snowy and icy conditions present in the area.
Winter Gear for Artist Point at Mt Baker: Like we mentioned earlier, if you’re driving to Artist Point at Mt Baker in the winter time and aren’t in an AWD vehicle, or snow tires
With the lack of cell service, we always have our satellite communication device on us when visiting this area. This is especially important in the winter, when accidents are more likely.
You’ll want an emergency kit accessible, including some essentials like outdoors emergency blankets and hand and foot warmers, at a minimum.
To make the hike to Artist Point, you’ll also need snowshoes, as the snow can get quite deep in this area (the area around Mt Baker is actually one of the snowiest places in Washington).
And this one’s an easy one to forget, but Artist Point at Mt Baker is pretty exposed to the sun, and with the snow bouncing that sunshine right back into your face, an excellent sunscreen is a must. This is the one we’ve used for the past 3 years for all of our mountain adventures. No chalky white residue, and it actually works at high elevations.
Pro Tip: Artist Point at Mt Baker is a mile high in elevation, which means you’ll need to consume a lot more water than you would at sea level. Make sure to pack some extra water, especially if you plan on doing a lot of hiking.
Summer Gear for Artist Point at Mt Baker: Some of the winter essentials (like our satellite communication devices and our fave sunscreen) are also crucial for summertime.
Even in the high alpine, we also bring our favorite all natural bug spray (we’ve used and tested this one for half a decade now). Places with heavy snowmelt (like Artist Point at Mt Baker) are very susceptible to mosquitos.
Waterproof hiking boots (we love the quality of Danner…so comfy!) are also a must. The weather can be wild in this area of Washington, and you never know when a storm will roll in and muddy up the hiking trails.
Yes, you absolutely can! Artist Point at Mt Baker is hands-down one of the best elopement locations in all of Washington. Why?
There are so many epic spots to have an elopement ceremony, without having to hike too far (which is crucial for many couples who opt to hike in their elopement attire).
It also doesn’t hurt that there are 360 degree mountain views at Artist Point at Mt Baker. Turn one way, and Table Mountain (pictured above) can be your backdrop. Turn again, and there’s Mount Baker. Turn once more, and there’s Mount Shuksan, piercing the clouds.
Sheena and Ed here! We’re hikers, outdoors advocates, and adventure photographers who believe in sharing the best hikes and outdoors adventures, from our own personal experiences.
Have a few weeks off and want to see our favorite spots in Washington? We’ve crafted the dreamiest two week WA itinerary.
Thinking about visiting the Rockies? We call Colorado home, and our ultimate list of the best alpine towns in Colorado details our favorites.
Dreaming of red rock deserts? Moab, Utah is one of our top places to visit, and our Moab guide covers our favorite things to do when we’re there.
Empowering You To Have Your Adventure Elopement, Your Way
Colorado Elopement Photographers + Adventure Wedding Photographers