Post my visit to the lower Sauk River, I returned home via the South Skagit Highway. The South Skagit Highway is on the South side of the Skagit. As such, it is on the shady side of the valley. This time of year, December, significant stretches of the road are in shade all day. It is a bit of an "off the beaten path" road with no towns and by far most travelers taking the main highway, State Route 20, on the north side of the valley. The main highway, being on the north side of the valley gets more sun, but the mountains on the north side block the views of Mount Baker.
View of Baker with the Skagit River in the foreground
The South Skagit Highway route also provides some good road cuts revealing the ice age stratigraphy of the lower valley. The last ice age history in the lower Skagit Valley has some complexity with ice coming into the valley from the north (alpine glaciers) and from the west (continental ice) (Riedel, 2007).
Glacial age sediments upstream of the Baker River/Skagit River confluence
Success of farming operations does not have a lot to do with scenery, but this cattle operation along the South Skagit does add to the scenic drive.
The constant shad stretches provided some nice winter scenery.
The trees enclose the road on many stretches, in part die to lack of power lines and the need to trim.