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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
Local Color on the Loop, Issue 3-Dan and Meg Donohue
Maybe it’s the aromatic whiff of rich, roasted coffee that envelops you as soon as you walk in the coffee bar; maybe it’s the playful baristas who love to photobomb or maybe it’s the fact that owners Dan and Meg Donohue greet everyone who enter this welcoming space with megawatt smiles, there’s an undeniable buzz at Blue Star Coffee Roasters in the small artsy town of Twisp, WA. Read More >>>>
Local Color on The Loop, Issue 2-Red
Nicknamed for her auburn hair and a penchant to blush, Debbie “Red” Schrock expertly navigates the frosted terrain on the horseback trails at Sun Mountain Lodge. Read More >>>>
Adventures in the Aviation District
Above me, the distinct sound of airplanes soaring through the air follows me from Mukilteo to Everett. Sometimes it’s a light hum, other times deeper roar. No matter which sound it is, my eyes are ever glancing upward hoping to catch a glimpse of those modern winged marvels. At times, it seems as if they are guiding me from one museum to the next as I explore the Paine Field Aviation District. Read More >>>>