Whatcom County is the most northwest county in Washington State. Its northern boundary is the Canadian Border, its western boundary is the San Juan Islands, and its eastern border is the Cascade Mountains.
The incorporated cities in Whatcom County are; Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack, and Sumas.
The communities of Alger, Birch Bay, Clipper, Custer, Deming, Glacier, Kendall Maple Falls, and Van Zandt are unincorporated communities in Whatcom County. They are included on our Whatcom County page.
The Bellingham / Whatcom County Museum building, the old City Hall has shown above, represents the grandeur of the turn of the Century (1900’s) in the Bellingham Area. The economy of the area was logging, lumber mills, coal mining, and commercial fishing.
Interstate-5 goes through western Whatcom County. The cities of Blaine, Ferndale, and Bellingham are located on Interstate-5. Whatcom County is a portal to British Columbia, Canada, the San Juan Islands of Washington State and the Canadian Gulf Islands.
It is also the beginning of the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway with its ski area and backcountry hiking, camping, and in the winter cross country skiing and snowmobiling.
Whatcom County is located in the northwest corner of the lower 48 States in the northwest corner of Washington State. It lies on the US/Canadian International Border. Whatcom County is 83 miles east to west and 24 miles north to south.
Nearly all of the population of Whatcom County is in the western 20 miles of the County. Eastern Whatcom County is made up of the Cascade Mountains and their foothills.
Parks and Wilderness
The North Cascades National Park, Pasayten Wilderness, and Mount Baker Wilderness are located in Whatcom County and they make up nearly one-half of the land area of the County. There is a lot of old-growth forest in Whatcom County.
Most of it is in the National Park and the two wilderness areas, however, some of it lies outside of those parks. There are two State Parks in Whatcom County, Birch Bay State Park, and Larabee State Park.
Cities in Whatcom County
The cities of Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, and Lynden are the larger cities located in Whatcom County. The smaller cities and towns in rural Whatcom County of Acme, Deming, Everson, Glacier, Maple Falls, Meridian, and Nooksack along with the other unincorporated areas of the county are included on this page.
The Mt. Baker Scenic Byway
The Mt. Baker Scenic Byway is located in Whatcom County. The restaurants, hotels, motels, inns, Bed & Breakfasts, cabins, and attractions located along the Byway are on our Mt. Baker Scenic Byway pages
A little more about Whatcom Country
Whatcom County has several interesting lakes, including 12 miles long Lake Whatcom. Most of the lakes are surrounded by the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
The northwest third of the county lies on a flatland created by the Nooksack River on its way to empty into Bellingham Bay. These lands are rich agricultural areas and consist mainly of farmlands for dairy cattle and the crops of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, corn, and other crops. The agricultural base of Whatcom County is small family farms.
The western border of the county is commonly called Puget Sound but this northern area, north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is actually the San Juan Islands and north of the islands in the Strait of Georgia and British Columbia’s Gulf Islands which runs north along the mainland of Canada on the east side of Vancouver Island.
The shoreline consists of Semiahmoo Bay at the US / Canada border with Drayton Harbor, a separate harbor off of the bay south of Blaine, then south to Birch Bay, then Bellingham Bay, and then south of Bellingham the Chuckanut Scenic Byway which runs along the west slope of the Chuckanut Mountains along the San Juan Islands.
Birch Bay is a popular recreation area. The bay has a wide firm, sandy tide flats at low tide with a road just behind the beach. Most of the beach on the bay is the public beach.
At the south end of the Bay is Birch Bay State Park with camping and day-use areas plus a large beach area. There are old-growth forests in Whatcom County. Two good examples of old-growth forests can be seen on the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway.
The rural Whatcom County communities of Nugents Corner, Kendal, Deming, Glacier and Maple Falls are located on the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway.
All of these communities have small populations of 500 or less. The Whatcom County communities of Acme, Clipper, Van Zandt, Everson, and Nooksack are located on WA Highway-9 which roughly parallels Interstate-5 about 20 miles to the east.
It runs from Sedro Woolley, in Skagit County north through Whatcom County to the Canadian border at Sumas. Although the Cities of Everson and Nooksack are incorporated we are including them on this page because they have relatively no commercial activity for the tourist.
Nooksack was settled in the 1850s, the town was platted in 1865, and was incorporated in 1912. Nooksack is a small community of about 1000. It is located about 9 miles south of the Canadian border, South of the Sumas border crossing on WA Highway-9, Everson was also settled in the 1850s.
Everson is located on both sides of the Nooksack River. WA Highway-9 runs through the east end of the town. The population of Everson is about 10,000. Everson lies in the middle of the rich agricultural flatlands of western Whatcom County and mainly serves the agricultural community.
Meridian is a community north of Bellingham. The main definition of the community is the Meridian School District. Meridian High School is active in the local world of High School Sports.
Meridian High School is located on the Laurel Road just east of the intersection of Meridian Road and the Laurel Road 5.0 mi. north of Interstate-5 Exit 256 (Meridian St / Lynden). There is a small commercial area on Meridian but no tourist facilities.
Nugents Corner is a small community 10 mi. east of Bellingham on the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway. The community is just east of the bridge over the Nooksack River.
It lies at the Junction of WA-9 (SR-9) and WA-542 (SR-542). WA-542 is the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway. This small community has a local supermarket named Dodson’s, a couple of churches and several other business establishments.
The Mt. Baker Scenic Byway offers a 60 mile trip to Mt. Baker Ski Area up the Nooksack River Valley. There are farms, a winery, old-growth forests, and parks along the byway.
The Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway
This beautiful side trip begins at Interstate-5 Exit 250 (Fairhaven / Alaska Ferry). You drive west to the stoplight at 12th Street then turn left on Chuckanut Drive.
The road then takes a curve to the left by Fairhaven Park and winds through some residential neighborhoods in South Bellingham before it breaks out on the side-hill of Chuckanut Mountain.
From this point south you see the steep mountainside on the east side of the road and a steep drop-off down to the bay on the west side of the road with fantastic views of the San Juan Islands.
In the middle of the drive, you will find a couple of restaurants clinging to the hillside and Larrabee State Park. Larrabee State Park has both camping and day-use facilities.
There are many scenic turnouts along this Byway’s 21 miles of sheer beauty. At the south end of the byway, it drops off onto the flatlands of Skagit Valley until WA-11 again connects with Interstate-5 at Exit 231.