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Wildlife

Fairfax, Virginia
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Wildlife

Hi,

We are in the VERY BEGINNING stages of planning a 12 day trip to thePacific NW for July or August (2014.) We are definitely planning on at least 4 or 5 days in ONP. We will be traveling as a family of 2 moms, 3 kids (9,12,15) and a 70ish year old grandmother. We love nature, and hiking although with grandma we can't do much of that. So we will be mostly just taking it all it slowly and wherever we can get by car. One of the "requirements" for this trip is animal! "The ones we don't have here in our Washington" (DC). So Mt. Goats would be spectacular. I know they are high up- but what are the chances of seeing them or other wildlife in July/Aug? without having to do too much hiking? Like I said, I don't think grandma will be able to trek around much at that age/altitude!

Thanks. for your help!

We are also thinking about going to Mt. Rainier for 2/3 days and possibly to North Cascades. I will post in those forums as well. Thanks for your input.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
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17 reviews
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1. Re: Wildlife

The mountain goats are at high altitude meadows that are reached by strenuous hiking. You will not see any. You will be able to see deer pretty much everywhere. If you are lucky, you might see elk near the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, but for two reasons I think this is not likely. First, the elk tend to move away from the areas frequented by visitors during high season. Second, the best time to see elk is at dusk, and dusk falls fairly late in late July/early August. Still, it is worth looking for them along the roadside.

You stand an excellent chance of seeing Olympic Gold Marmots on the fairly easy Hurricane Hill Trail just beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. The trail is paved and ascends only 760 feet, so with luck, the grandmother can make it. You might also see Olympic Blue Grouse and their chicks up there. Very occasionally, one sees a black bear off the Hurricane Hill Trail, but such sightings are uncommon.

There are many sea ducks along the Dungeness Spit, and I almost always see at least one seal there. There are many eagles at the LaPush Beaches. Look along the treeline at Rialto Beach. I don't know if the grandmother can get over the large driftwood barrier at the entrance to Second Beach, but if she can, there are lots of eagles there.

We have cougars here, and they are magnificent, but they are almost never seen. I have seen one twice in 13 years.

I have to say that I don't think ONP is the best choice for you. It is not a park like Yellowstone where one is likely to see large mammals in abundance. ONP is full of life, but the birds and mammals are a little shy, perhaps because many of them live in forest settings. Also, ONP is a hiker's park, not a driver's park. There are few scenic drives as the road runs largely outside the park, not through it. Many of the most beautiful places require a bit of a walk to reach them. It's not that there aren't beautiful and easily accessible places, it's that there are not many of them compared to the long distance needed to drive to them, and they tend not to feature abundant animal life.

If you do decide to come, I can suggest several short and easy hikes, but you will definitely miss out on the best ONP has to offer.

Fairfax, Virginia
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72 posts
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2. Re: Wildlife

Thank you so much for your help- exactly what I was looking for. Hmmm. Lots to think about!

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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3. Re: Wildlife

You have been to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons which would have been hands down my choice, as well. Next best that comes to mind is Glacier National Park. July/August is a good time, Going to the Sun Road will have been completely open by then.

Combine GNP with Waterton Lakes National Park, adjacent to GNP, in Canada.

Both are magnificently beautiful, quite good for wildlife sightings.

Waterton, btw, has a village in the park, unlike what is allowed in our parks. So, many amenities.

pc.gc.ca/pn-np/…1

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g143026-d1…

st louis
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264 posts
28 reviews
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4. Re: Wildlife

I remember reading your trip reports from Yellowstone. I loved them! I am in the process of planning a trip to the ONP in 2013. We have been before and also to Mt Ranier. We saw Mt Ranier on a clear day and it was beautiful. We went to Glacier last year at the end of August. We saw grizzlys on the side of the road. Unlike Yellowstone the bears come down to lower elevations to eat the berries at the end of August. The Many Glacier area is the best for seeing wildlife. We saw Mt goats up on the hill around swiftcurrent motor inn. There are alot of short walks including one to fishercap lake where we saw moose grazing in the lake.A lot of people see Mt goats at logan pass on the GTTSH. We saw bighorn sheep there. We also saw a whole nursey of bighorn sheep walking down the road to Cameron lake in Waterton Canada. We also saw a black bear going to Red rock canyon in Waterton. We love wildlife but we love the beauty of the Seattle an surrounding area. I suspect your family has a fun time no matter where they go.

western WA
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5. Re: Wildlife

You can see sea life, including whales, seals and tide pool creatures.

Fairfax, Virginia
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72 posts
71 reviews
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6. Re: Wildlife

Thanks to everyone for all the comments and help! I'm glad to hear from some "old friends" aka readers of our trip reports :-). For our kids' 12th birthdays....We give them 3 big vacation options, based on their likes and dislikes. I make powerpoints for them when they turn 10 and they do a little extra research- then they get to choose where we go- and I start really planning. (teachers...nothing can be easy right? :-)

Her other choices (i think) will include Glacier (but secretly I want to head all the way up to Banff and Jasper...just not with Grandmama and the kids!) so I was TRYING to find somewhere else that would at least give the promise of some wildlife.

Currently option 1 for my daughter (who claims to want to be a park ranger) is CA: /San Fran, Sequoia, Yosemite..(she LOVES THE RED WOOD FOREST) or at least thinks she does. Option 2 Rocky Mt. NP, Pikes Peak, and Mt. Evans, Option 3 is a toss up between ONP and PNW area and Glacier/Waterton. I was just hoping that i could sneak a few animals in there in Washington since I so badly want to get to Banff and can't imagine being up at Glacier and not wanting to go all the way.

Either way it will be GREAT! Thanks everyone for all your help. Perhaps i'll just head to ONP without the kids :-)

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
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8 reviews
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7. Re: Wildlife

Kaleberg has pretty much given you the same kind of feedback that I would have on Olympic NP . I have seen just about every mammal and bird that inhabits Olympic National Park, but that is from backpacking in every season over the course of 35 years. I saw a pair of Killer whales last week from the Seattle Bainbridge Ferry, but I commute on that ferry 5 days a week and only see whales on average aboutr 3 or 4 times times a year. Keep in mind if you wanted to take the time and whale whatching interests you could do that from the lovely small town of Port townsend which IS on the Olympic Penninsula. It does mean you would probably need to spend the night before in Port Townsend in order to catch a morning whale whatching cruise, and that would take up most of one day. Unlike the Rockies our region is not dry and open on this side of the Cascade Mountains. Until you get to higher elevations Olympic Natrional park is covered with dense forests. That makes viewing wildlife pretty tough. Thirty years ago I could almost garantee that you would see mountain goats in the craggy rocks just above the road leading up to Hurricane Ridge. Now you really have to hike as Kaleberg pointed out. Olympic National Park is my favorite National Park, because it is so unique. If seeing wildlife and beautiful drives are your priorities, then it may not be your best choice.

I lived in Colorado before moving here. Rocky Mountain National Park is beautiful, I used to visit a lot when I lived there. Drier and much more open then here, but do not think of wildlife viewing like Yellowstone or the Banff Jasper area. Great for driving with great vistas though.

If it were me and I wanted to see something totally different for you and your children, I would consider the Redwood National Park, Sequoia NP, Yosemite and some of California Coast. If your daughter has never seen one of the larger Redwoods, I consider it a must. They are arguably the most beautiful trees in the world, and the giant Sequoia's are unbelieveable. In 12 days you could easily include the California Coast North and South of Monterey Ca.

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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62 reviews
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8. Re: Wildlife

Decisions, decision, decisions... and in a democratic (perhaps small "d") household, all the harder. :)

An option that you stated is to see GNP, Waterton, Banff and Jasper. Why not? The whole drive is beautiful, lots of wildlife, nice places to stay at various prices, etc.) Even tropical fish in one of the mountain streams. Add in a few nice small towns,wildlife in the streets of Waterton, ride a tram at Banff, etc.

And no California traffic!

You realize you are going to have to use your "teacher's voice" and make the decision. :)

Edited: 7:15 pm, January 16, 2013
Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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9. Re: Wildlife

I changed my photo from a Cooper's Hawk to a Rocky Mt. Sheep - it's sticking his nose into my driver's side window, eye reflected in the side mirror. Show your kids.

What's not to like about the Icefield Highway between Banff and Jasper. :)

Gig Harbor...
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10. Re: Wildlife

"Voyaging" has a good idea with Banff / Jasper if you want wildlife. We have been there twice in June and saw elk grazing a few blocks from downtown Banff. We also saw lots of bear - I think on the Bow River Parkway - and many mountain goats and big horn sheep closer to Jasper.. If you go to Jasper, drive to Spirit Lake and take the boat ride - we saw many animals from the boat and the scenery was gorgeous. There are marmots if you take the tram near Jasper. None of this involved difficult hiking - mostly easy walks from the car.

Edited: 7:50 pm, January 16, 2013
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