Water is the life force of the North Cascades. It falls from the sky, trickles off mountains, replenishes lakes and flows to the sea. Within the Puget Sound watershed, the Skagit is the largest and most bounteous river. With its 2,900 streams, the Skagit River accounts for 20 percent of the water that empties into Puget Sound.
All five species of salmon and two species of anadromous trout (trout that go from fresh water to salt water and return to spawn upriver) begin life in the cool gravel bottoms of the Skagit River system. In odd-numbered years, as many as one million pink salmon spawn in the Skagit. In 1996, 152,000 Chum salmon—a ten-year high—also returned to the Skagit.
Because of the healthy salmon runs, the Skagit hosts one of the largest wintering bald eagle populations in the lower 48 states; spawned-out carcasses of Chum salmon are the eagles' most important source of food during the winter months. In some years, as many as 500 bald eagles spend the winter along the Skagit River.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication