GOLDEN GARDENS BEACH
Golden Gardens is the perfect spot close to Seattle for a nice beach day or to photograph Northwest wildlife. Many fishing and sailing adventures start from the Shilshole Marina just next door. I have seen orcas here, Gray whales, otters and so much more. When not looking for animals, having a fire on the beach was always one of my favorite things to do here. Golden Gardens also has some great hiking, beach walking and swimming if you can handle the cold of Puget Sound.
Wildlife at Golden Gardens
I have spotted eagles, great blue herons, lots of cool tide pool critters, sea lions, harbor seals, river otters, orcas, turtles, Gray whales, and even beavers here. Considering how close this is to Seattle, it’s a great place to see wildlife. The reason there are so many different species at Golden Gardens is that there’s a series of freshwater ponds and a stream, which brings in the freshwater animals. Not only that but also Shilshole Marina always attracts seals and sea lions and otters and birds. The spring is the best time to see the beavers. Show up at just around dusk and head to the ponds. From afar the beavers can look like ducks! But look closely, it might just be a giant rodent.
Golden Gardens has a combination of grassy areas, lush mosey forests, and beaches. It’s also just up the street from the Ballard Locks. Sea lions hang out on a large buoy offshore, too far out to photograph. At low tide, all kinds of birds come out to search the tide pools for crabs and snails. The snails and other shellfish are too strong for them to eat, so they fly up 30 or so feet with the shellfish in their beaks, and drop them onto the rocks below, cracking their shells.
Bald eagles live in the forest above the sea and can be seen gliding on the high thermals above. I have also seen a great blue hereon here a couple of years ago, that photo is below as well. The only problem with Golden Gardens is the people, on weekends it gets a little crowded with beachcombers, joggers, and families. But for how close and accessible it is, it’s a great place for a day trip or just a quick walk on the beach.
Golden Gardens Orcas
My favorite memory of Golden Gardens and Shilshole Marina is seeing orcas at sunrise. I was heading out salmon fishing in a friend’s 18 foot Boston Whaler. It was early. Very early. Still dark when we were preparing the boat carefully loading our gear into the boat from the dock. The faintest amount of sunlight was just starting to show when we pulled out of Shilshole Marina. Just a moment after we got the boat to full speed, the captain suddenly stopped the boat. The sun was just peaking over the hills just north of Golden Gardens. The sunlight was illuminating the blows of a pod of orcas! We killed the engines and sat in silence. The only sound was the blows of the orcas as they slowly and steadily passed us. These were transient orcas we would later learn. Those are the mammal-eating kind of orcas. It was incredible to see the large male and a small baby traveling with her mom. The orcas passed close to shore at Golden Gardens just after our encounter. Just goes to show you that can see anything at Golden Gardens.
There’s so much that I can say about Golden Gardens. Everybody who knows the place with the green. Have you been to Golden Gardens before? What’s your favorite thing about the place? Comment below and let us know!