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Wildlife Viewing On The Cascade Loop

Lots 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. Watch for signs of wildlife: tracks, scat, signs of feeding, burrowing and in some cases, rubbings on trees.

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

A few animals/mammals tend to generate the most questions and interest among Cascade Loop travelers. Take a peak at the links below for some additional info:

Sources: Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest-David Moskowitz, National Wildlife Federation, Methow Subbasin Wildlife Assessment and Inventory-Northwest Council, 2004, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Whales whale watching wildlife viewing

Habitat

The Cascade Loop begins and ends in regions close to Puget Sound. According to the National Wildlife Federation, "The Puget Sound ecosystem is rich in marine, freshwater, and wetland species, including invertebrates, birds, fish, mammals, underwater plants like eelgrass, and tiny aquatic organisms called plankton." 

Wildlife Viewing

Look for more than 3,000 species of invertebrates including Geoduck Clams, Oysters, Octopus, Sea Urchins, Dungeness Crab and Sea Stars. Puget Sound Marine mammals include orca, gray and humpback whales, sea lions, sea otters and harbor seals. Your best bet for seeing all of these is to book a trip with Island Adventures.

Virginia Opossum, Shrew (Vagrant and Water), Mole (Coast, Townsend's, American Shrew-Moles), Eastern Cottontail, Nutria, Townsend's Chipmunk, Douglas Squirrel, Northern Flying Squirrel, Pacific Jumping Mouse, Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Norway Rat, Voles (Townsend's, Long-Tailed, Southern Red-Backed and Western Heather), Porcupine, Mountain Beaver, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Red Fox, Black Bear, Raccoon, Short-Tailed and Long-Tailed Weasel, Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otters, Striped and Western Spotted Skunks, Mule and Black-Tailed Deer

See more images of wildlife and birding in Seattle NorthCountry

(Pictured, breaching Orca Whale)

Wildlife viewing

Habitat

The Stevens Pass Greenway is home to the Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest on the western slope of the Cascades and the Wenatchee/Okanogan National Forest on the Eastern slope of the mountains. The Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie national Forest is home to glacier-covered peaks, spectacular mountain meadows and old-growth forests while the Wenatchee/Okanogan National Forest is home to high, glaciated alpine peaks along the Cascade Crest to the dry, rugged shrub steppe country that sprawls along its eastern edge. These two vastly different ecosystems on each side of the range are home to a wealth of wildlife native to the area. Note that not only will the wildlife that you see on each side of the slope vary, but it will also vary based on how far into the wilderness you go and the individual habitats you encounter as you ascend and descend in elevation.

Wildlife Viewing

Shrews (Vagrant, Trowbridge's, Water and Marsh), American Pika, Snowshoe Hare, Moles (Coast, American Shrew-Moles), Muskrat, Beaver, Marmots (Yellow-bellied and Hoary), Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, Chipmunks (Townsend's, Least and Yellow Pine), Squirrels (Grey and Douglas), Northern Flying Squirrel, Deer Mouse (North American and Northwestern), Pacific Jumping Mouse, Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Voles (Montane, Long-Tailed, Water, Red-Backed and Western Heather), Porcupine, Northern Pocket Gopher, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Red Fox, Black Bear, Raccoon, Short-Tailed and Long-Tailed Weasels, Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otter, Wolverine, American Badger, Skunk (Striped and Western Spotted), Deer (Mule and Black-Tailed), Rocky Mountain Elk, Mountain Goats.

See more images of wildlife and birding on the Stevens Pass Greenway 

(Pictured: Cascade Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel)

Black Bear Peeking Out of Bushes

Habitat

The region extends from Cole's Corner in the Tumwater Canyon through the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth and on to the small community of Cashmere. The area is home to numerous wildlife habitats as the landscape changes. It is surrounded by the Wenatchee/Okanogan National Forest and is home to several key locations to explore if you're looking for wildlife: the Lake Wenatchee and Fish Lake area, Leavenworth's Waterfront Park, the Icicle River Valley, a gateway to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and along the Wenatchee riverbanks near Cashmere. 

Wildlife Viewing

Shrew (Water, Marsh, Vagrant, Trowbridge's and Merriam's), American Pika, Snowshoe Hare, Coast Mole, American Shrew-Mole, Muskrat, Beaver, Marmots (Yellow-bellied and Hoary), Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, Chipmunk (Townsend's, Least and Yellow Pine), Squirrel (Grey, Douglas and Northern Flying), North American and Northwestern Deer Mouse, Pacific Jumping Mouse, Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Vole (Montane, Long-Tailed, Water, Red-Backed and Western Heather), Porcupine, Northern Pocket Gopher, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Red Fox, Black Bear, Raccoon, Short-Tailed and Long-Tailed Weasels, Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otter, Wolverine, American Badger, Skunk (Striped and Western Spotted), Deer (Mule and Black-Tailed), Rocky Mountain Elk, Mountain Goats.  

See more images of wildlife and birding in Leavenworth & The Cascade Foothills

(Pictured: Black Bear, Freund's Photography)


Habitat

Departing Cashmere, continue to follow the Wenatchee River toward its confluence with the massive Columbia River. The surrounding shrub steppe foothills and waterfront riparian zones provide shelter and feeding grounds to diverse wildlife. This area is also home to three designated Wildlife Areas: the Home Water Wildlife Preserve at the heart of the Sage Hills trail system west of Wenatchee, the Horan Nature Area located adjacent and north of Walla Walla Point Park, part of Wenatchee's Apple Capital Loop Trail, and the Swakane Wildlife Area just south of Entiat. Continue on the byway until you reach the Entiat River Valley easily located by taking a left off of US-97A. Keep your eyes wide open as you make the journey toward the Entiat turnoff, however, as Bighorn Sheep can often be seen on the cliffs to the left of the roadway and even at times, on or near the roadway!

Wildlife Viewing

Merriam's Shrew, American Pika, Snowshoe Hare, Nuttal's Cottontail, Jackrabbit (Black-Tailed and White-Tailed), Coast Mole, Muskrat, Beaver, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, Chipmunk (Townsend's, Yellow Pine and Least), Squirrel (Grey, Douglas and Northern Flying Squirrel), North American and Northwestern Deer Mouse, Western Harvest Mouse, Great Basin Pocket Mouse, Pacific Jumping Mouse, Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Vole (Montane, Long-Tailed, Water, Southern Red-Backed, Western Heather and Sagebrush), Porcupine, Northern Pocket Gopher, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Red Fox, Black Bear, Raccoon, Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otter, American Badger, Striped Skunk, Deer (Mule and Black-Tailed), Rocky Mountain Elk, Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep

See more images of wildlife and birding in Wenatchee & The Columbia River Valley

(Pictured: Bighorn Sheep)

Wildlife Viewing

Habitat

This region follows the mighty Columbia River extending from Entiat toward 50+-mile long Lake Chelan and on past toward the small community of Pateros. Look for riparian zones between the Columbia River and the shrub steppe foothills and rocky cliffs. The landscape begins to change as the Wenatchee/Okanogan National Forest is visible around much of Lake Chelan. Take a ride with Lady of the Lake or Lake Chelan Helicopters to access the off-the-grid community of Stehekin situated at the base of the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. Four designated Wildlife Areas are located in this region as well: the Swakane Wildlife Area, the Chelan Butte Wildlife Area, Beebe Springs Wildlife Area, and the Gallagher Flat State Wildlife Recreation Area

Wildlife Viewing

Shrew (Vagrant, Water, Marsh and Merriam's), American Pika, Nuttal's Cottontail, Jackrabbit (Black-Tailed and White-Tailed), Muskrat, Beaver, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Squirrel (Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground, Gray, Douglas, Northern Flying) Chipmunk (Yellow Pine and Least), Mice (North American Deer and Northwestern Deer, Western Harvest, Great Basin Pocket, Pacific Jumping), Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Vole (Montane, Long-Tailed, Water, Southern Red-Backed, Western Heather and Sagebrush), Porcupine, Northern Pocket Gopher, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Red Fox, Black Bear, Raccoon, Long-Tailed Weasel, Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otter, American Badger, Striped Skunk, Deer (Mule and Black-Tailed), Rocky Mountain Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose

See more images of wildlife and birding in the Lake Chelan Valley

(Pictured: Coyote, Freund's Photography)

Buck

Habitat

Turn left on US-153 just before you reach Pateros and travel northwest along side the Methow River as it winds its way through the valley. The Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness is located to the west and riparian areas adjacent to the Methow River are easily found as you continue along the subalpine valley. The uppermost western area of the Methow watershed carves deeply into the Cascade peaks. Avalanche chutes and jagged ridges define the area. The upper Methow River valley is a u-shaped, glaciated intermountain valley. It shouldn't come as a surprise then to hear this stretch of the byway labeled wildlife alley--animals seek refuge in the mountainous wilderness, food and water from the river. Be diligent and watchful as you drive through this area.

Wildlife Viewing

Shrew (Vagrant, Water, Marsh and Merriam's, American Pika, Nuttal's Cottontail, Jackrabbit (Black-Tailed and White-Tailed), Coast Mole, Muskrat, Beaver, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, Chipmunk (Townsend's, Yellow Pine and Least) Squirrel (Douglas, Northern Flying ), Mice (North American Deer, Northwestern Deer, Northern Grasshopper, Western Harvest, Great Basin Pocket, Pacific Jumping), Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Norway Rat, Vole (Montane, Long-Tailed, Southern Red-Backed, Western Heather and Sagebrush), Porcupine, Northern Pocket Gopher, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Red Fox, Black Bear, Raccoon, Short-Tailed Weasel, Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otter, Wolverine, American Badger, Skunk (Western-Spotted and Striped), Deer (Mule, White-Tailed and Black-Tailed), Rocky Mountain Elk, Mountain Goat

See more images of wildlife and birding in the Methow Valley

(Pictured: Young buck, Black-Tailed Deer)

The Enchantments Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Habitat

Once you round the bend below Liberty Bell and Early Winters Spires, and make the approach toward Washington Pass, it is highly apparent that you're in for a truly special experience. The North Cascades is a rich and varied ecosystem containing numerous wildlife habitats.  The giant ponderosa pines of the Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest give way to Douglas-fir and Pacific silver fir as you ascend the mountains and enter the North Cascades National Park. Once you've left the rivers behind and climb higher into the wilderness you enter the subalpine world home to grassy meadows and stunted krummholz trees. Low-growing flowers and plants dominate the area. Climbing higher, toward the glacial fields, enter a world of rock and ice. One the west side of the pass, descend out of the North Cascades National Park and into the old-growth forests of the Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest and into verdant green farmlands of the Skagit River Valley.

Wildlife Viewing

Shrew (Vagrant and Water) American Pika, Nuttal's Cottontail, Snowshoe Hare, White-Tailed Jackrabbits, Muskrat, Beaver, Marmot (Hoary and Yellow-bellied), Squirrel (Columbian Ground, Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground, Western Gray, Red, Douglas, Northern Flying), Chipmunk (Townsend's and Yellow Pine), Mice (North American Deer, Northwestern Deer, Great Basin Pocket, Pacific and Western Jumping), Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Northern Bog Lemming, Vole (Water, Montane, Long-Tailed, Southern Red-Backed and Western Heather), Porcupine, Northern Pocket Gopher, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Canada Lynx, Coyote, Red Fox, Gray Wolf, Black Bear, Raccoon, Weasel (Short-Tailed and Long-Tailed), Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otter, Wolverine, American Badger, Skunk (Western-Spotted and Striped), Deer (Mule, White-Tailed and Black-Tailed), Rocky Mountain Elk, Mountain Goats, Moose

See more images of wildlife and birding in the North Cascades

(Pictured: Baby Mountain Goat)


Habitat

The Skagit River Valley is a rich ecosystem connecting the subalpine terrain of the North Cascades with coastal bluffs and deep marine waters. Though much habitat has been altered through a highly developed and productive system of farmlands and urban spaces, there remain large protected areas to support native wildlife. The Skagit Wildlife Area contains eight such spaces-- The Johnson/DeBay's Slough Unit, The Fir Island Farm Reserve, The Island Unit (available by boat only), The Leque Island Unit, The Samish Unit, The Skagit Bay Estuary Unit, The Skagit Headquarters Unit and The Telegraph Slough Unit--and is world renowned for its birding

Wildlife Viewing

3,000 species of invertebrates including Geoduck Clams, Oysters, Octopus, Sea Urchins, Dungeness Crab and Sea Stars. Puget Sound Marine mammals include orca, gray and humpback whales, sea lions, sea otters and harbor seals. Your best bet for seeing all of these is to book a trip with Island Adventures or Anacortes Kayak Tours.

Shrew (Vagrant and Water) American Pika, Nuttal's Cottontail, Snowshoe Hare, White-Tailed Jackrabbits, Muskrat, Beaver, Marmot (Hoary and Yellow-bellied), Squirrel (Columbian Ground, Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground, Western Gray, Red, Douglas, Northern Flying), Chipmunk (Townsend's and Yellow Pine), Mice (North American Deer, Northwestern Deer, Great Basin Pocket, Pacific and Western Jumping), Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Northern Bog Lemming, Vole (Water, Montane, Long-Tailed, Southern Red-Backed and Western Heather), Porcupine, Northern Pocket Gopher, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Canada Lynx, Coyote, Red Fox, Gray Wolf, Black Bear, Raccoon, Weasel (Short-Tailed and Long-Tailed), Mink, American Marten, Northern River Otter, Wolverine, American Badger, Skunk (Western-Spotted and Striped), Deer (Mule, White-Tailed and Black-Tailed), Rocky Mountain Elk, Mountain Goats, Moose

See more images of wildlife and birding in the Skagit Valley

(Pictured: Rocky Mountain Elk)

Birding bird watching sea life Anacortes Island Adventures whale watching

Habitat

Access Whidbey Island by driving over the the Puget Sound on the Deception Pass Bridge. According to the National Wildlife Federation, "The Puget Sound ecosystem is rich in marine, freshwater, and wetland species, including invertebrates, birds, fish, mammals, underwater plants like eelgrass, and tiny aquatic organisms called plankton."  The roadway passes through forests and farmland, but beaches and wetlands are easily accessible. The island is also home to four lakes: Cranberry Lake, Deer Lake, Lone Lake and Goss Lake. Flora and fauna vary wildly from north to south ends of the island. It is also a wildly popular birding destination with over 230 species identified on the island. Exit the island via Washington State Ferry.

Wildlife Viewing

3,000 species of invertebrates including Geoduck Clams, Oysters, Octopus, Sea Urchins, Dungeness Crab and Sea Stars. Puget Sound Marine mammals include orca, gray and humpback whales, sea lions, sea otters and harbor seals. Your best bet for seeing all of these is to book a trip with Whidbey Island Kayaking.

Virginia Opossum, Shrew (Vagrant and Water), Mole (Coast and Townsend's), American Shrew-Moles, Eastern Cottontail, Snowshoe Hare, Nutria, Muskrat, Hoary Marmot, Squirrel (Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, Douglas, Northern Flying), Chipmunk (Townsend's and Yellow Pine), Mice (North American Deer, Northwestern Deer, Pacific Jumping), Bushy-Tailed Woodrat, Norway Rat, Vole (Townsend's, Long-Tailed, Water, Southern Red-Backed and Western Heather), Porcupine, Mountain Beaver, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Red Fox, Black Bear, Raccoon, Short-Tailed and Long-Tailed Weasel, Mink, American Marten, Wolverine, Northern River Otters, Skunk (Striped and Western Spotted), Deer (Mule and Black-Tailed) Rocky Mountain Elk, Mountain Goats, Moose

See more images of wildlife and birding on the Whidbey Scenic Isle Way

(Pictured: Harbor Seals)

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