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Wildlife Viewing On The Cascade Loop

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
Bird of the Week: The Ruddy Duck
With a cinnamon body and bright blue bill, the male Ruddy Duck is one of our most noticeable and memorable ducks. But look closer and longer and you'll notice that their mannerisms and behavior are just as fascinating. Unlike many of our migratory duck species who might only be in Okanogan County 2-3 months, the Ruddys are generally here from early April through October. Look for these small, compact diving ducks on just about any pond or small lake. Read More >>>>
Bird of the Week: House Wren
The House Wren, a common, native bird all over the United States, is a small bird with a big voice that readily inhabits natural tree cavities and anything it can turn into a cavity (nest boxes, planters, shoes, yard art). Some people love this sweet little bird, and some people love to hate it. Read More >>>>
A Whale of a Tail
There are few animals in the wild as thrilling to see as a whale. Here in Washington state, we are fortunate enough to be on the migration route for several species of whale as they travel from Alaska to warmer southern waters to breed, then back again to Alaska to feed on the colder ocean’s bounty. The most common whale sightings are of Orca and Gray whales, some of whom find the Puget Sound and the Salish Sea such a beautiful area that they decide to stick around all year. That… Read More >>>>