Naturalists are predictably attracted to the Chinook region. With over 50 species of mammals and 130 species of birds in the area surrounding the byway, you will have lots of chances to see all kinds of critters along the Chinook Scenic Byway through Mt. Rainier National Park and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Most travelers will see squirrels, marmots, and many types of birds. Searching for smaller lizards, birds, and squirrels make for interesting nature hikes through the forest. To be as prepared as possible to enjoy the wildlife, bring hiking boots, a camera, and binoculars. Look at guidebooks such as the Yakima Area Wildlife Viewing Guide, courtesy of the Yakima Valley Audubon Society, to find recommendations for byway viewing sites, not only for many kinds of birds, but for wildlife such as Townsend’s bats, chinook salmon and mountain goats!
If you have a sharp eye, you may be able to spot bear, elk, mountain goats, or cougars. Keep a look out for some common mountain species such as black-tailed deer, wolves, coyotes, and red fox. Campers will want to be wary of these species roaming in search of food, and keep their food sealed or in a vehicle. Though generally harmless, some animals may attack if they feel threatened, so it's best to make sure they don't have a reason to get too close! From a vehicle, wildlife sightings can be exciting! Make sure to tell park and forest rangers of any sightings of potentially dangerous animals, so other campers can be warned and educated on the proper way to handle different situations.
While Mt. Rainier National Park and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is open year-round, the byway may be closed seasonally or occasionally due to severe weather. Check local weather and road conditions before you travel.
- Copyright © December 2011 Will Merydith.
- Copyright © September 2011 Jim Culp.