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Wildlife

All manner of animals live in the natural areas surrounding the Cascade Loop. What you see during your trip will depend on the season, time of day, weather, and how far from the roadway you explore. Animal behavior varies.

Enjoy looking for and photographing wildlife but be alert and safe! Keep a safe distance from all wildlife, do not attempt selfies with critters, and do not offer them your food. 

The Cascade Loop begins and ends in regions close to Puget Sound (Snohomish River Valley, Skagit Valley/Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island). From the car, you may spot seabirds, shorebirds and waterfowl, including the tufted puffin, bufflehead, western sandpiper, bald eagle, pigeon guillemot, common loon, harlequin duck, rhinoceros auklet, cormorants, scoters, and grebes. Get out of the car for a chance to see otter, sea lion, crab, orca, gray and humpback whales, sea urchins, and sea stars. Your best bet for seeing all of these is to book a trip with Island Adventures, Anacortes Kayak Tours, or Whidbey Island Kayaking.

Western river valleys (Snohomish River Valley and Skagit Valley/Fidalgo Island) are favorite spots for hundreds of species of birds and waterfowl. Look for trumpeter swans, snow geese, and tundra swans in winter. 

While driving through the mountains (Stevens Pass Greenway, Leavenworth and the North Cascades National Park)be on the lookout for deer, coyote, bald eagle, and osprey.

In the backcountry, you may encounter black bear, mountain goat, elk, cougar, raccoons, skunks, and whistling marmots.

Driving through eastern river valleys (Wenatchee/Columbia River Valley, Lake Chelan and the Methow Valley) you may see deer, rabbits, coyotes, bighorn sheep, blue heron, bald eagles, golden eagles, osprey, wild turkey and turkey vulture.

Get away from the highway and you might encounter gray wolves, black bear, cougar, beaver, raccoon, skunk, whistling marmots, grouse, bobcats, badgers, moose, mountain goats, grouse, wild turkey, wolverine, lynx, bobcat, and pikas.

The Columbia River is well-known for spring Chinook, sockeye, coho and steelhead, sturgeon, cutthroat, rainbow trout, and walleye. The past two state-record lake trout were pulled from Lake Chelan (most recently in 2013) where you can also find Chinook, kokanee, cutthroat trout, and burbot.

Watchable Wildlife All Along the Loop
Woodpecker in Wenatchee's Horan Natural Area
Is it a chipmunk or a squirrel?
When I was small and we would camp near Lake Chelan, my dad and I would challenge each other to be the first to spot the wildlife, and I would always see what I called "chickmunks" first. Later in life I learned that what I saw most was a Douglas squirrel, but any time I see these critters, I think of my dad. Read More >>>>
Watchable Wildlife: Black Bear
Encountering a black bear in the wild is thrilling and crazy scary at the same time. Spring and fall are the best times to view these predators, and it is not uncommon to see scat while hiking trails in the areas natural areas. Enchantments Park near Leavenworth is a regular hangout in the spring for a momma (cow) and her cubs, and if you plan to camp in the National Forest, be Bear Aware! During Fall the bears are focused on increasing their fat stores for winter, and will eat almost… Read More >>>>
Salmon Viewing Locations on the Loop
The following is a list of salmon viewing areas near the Cascade Loop. For a statewide list and details, visit http://wildfishconservancy.org/resources/view-wild-salmon-steelhead Osprey Park, SultanOsprey Park is a short drive off the highway near Sultan. It is 85 acres of wetland and riparian habitat following the Sultan river, with two miles of gentle trails where you can see hundreds of ducks and birds, plus thousands of Chinook, coho, chum, and pink salmon, are frequently observed during the fall spawning season. This is a great place to watch for and observe spawning salmon… Read More >>>>