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Chasing Bigfoot In The Pacific Northwest

Take a Drive Where Sasquatch May Dwell

Tales of Sasquatch have been handed down by native tribes for generations, and there have been numerous sightings of the creature in the remote forests of Washington and Oregon. Your quest for Bigfoot will take you along lonely roads and into some of the most beautiful areas of the Pacific Northwest.

The Sasquatch lives in the popular imagination at nearly every corner of Washington state. You can hardly go on a road trip without seeing the outline of these huge, lanky beasts as you zoom past. Emblazoned on signs, coffee cups and standing tall near chainsaw-carved eagles, tales of Bigfoot encounters and sightings are part of life in the Pacific Northwest. Spotted so often in these parts, Washington locals and visitors often ask where the illusive Sasquatch may dwell.

Although many people remain highly skeptical that an undocumented creature lingers in the shadowy woods of the Pacific Northwest, the same doubt was shared about gorillas before Europeans “proved” their existence in Africa. Despite modern cartoonish depictions of Sasquatch, the mysterious and illusive creature has been part of Indigenous stories for generations.

Legends have been shared up and down the forested regions of Cascadia, telling tales of numerous human-like figures. Sasquatch is just one of many names assigned by area tribes to a wild, upright walking creature of the woods. Some were wild women, bent on kidnapping children. Some were smaller than humans, mischievous thieves. Other legends were about the tall, large and hairy human-like creatures we are used to seeing on T-shirts.

Sasquatch Crossing
Watch for passing creatures. Photo by pabrady63/AdobeStock images

History of Sightings

Artist and author Roger Fernandes of the Lower Elwha Band of the S’Klallam grew up hearing the stories from his mother. The tales would often be from her childhood. At night along the Elwha River, something would follow them making noises that weren’t human. As an adult, he has used his artistic talents to illustrate these tales on request.

Fernandes says indigenous cultures have due regard for the diversity of beings living in the forest. “Native people have an intimate relationship with nature and that includes beings you might not see,” he says. “Native cultures have coexisted and know the right of Sasquatch to exist; however, they determined that they are solitary and private for a reason.”

For many around the Pacific Northwest, the existence of this creature is not up for debate: Sasquatch lives. The modern-day image — the one we see on logos all around the country — is based on a clip from the Patterson/Gimlin Bigfoot film where Sasquatch was reportedly captured walking along a riverbank in northern California. Since that clip in 1967, the lore and stories have grown. Today, you can research sightings, both old and new, on the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website. Definitive proof of Sasquatch is still lacking, despite people’s wide use of cell phones and digital cameras in the remote woods of the West.

David George Gordon, author of The Sasquatch Seekers Field Manual, says you’ll need solid proof if you want people to believe that you have seen the creature.

“If you want to help prove or disprove that there is a Sasquatch, have everything lined up for your research and documentation,” Gordon says. “Help the experts and fight sloppy science. Be vigilant with details.”

Where should you look to catch a glimpse of this reclusive legend? Your best bet is to go to where black bears live. Most reported Sasquatch sightings have been in black bear terrain, and that makes sense as the habitat must be suitable to sustain a large animal. Black bears are wary of humans. An estimated 25,000 black bears roam Washington, but most residents of the state have never seen one in the wild.

So, if you want to find Sasquatch, you’ll need to find a remote, forested area. In Washington, four regions would be especially attractive to this elusive beast. And these places are worth visiting anyway. Even if you never spot the creature, the scenery is beautiful and worth the drive.

Sasquatch Olympic National Park
In the Olympic National Park. Photo by khomlyak/AdobeStock images

Searching for Bigfoot

The Olympic Peninsula is a classic spot to begin your search for Sasquatch, as numerous sightings occurred here over the past few decades. The roads pass into Olympic National Park and Forest, granting access to 950,000 acres of wilderness over the entire Olympic Peninsula. The Queets area is one of the less-visited sections of the Peninsula, upping the odds of solitary encounters with Sasquatch.

The area around Wynoochee Lake and the upper reaches of the Humptulips River are also wild and remote, highlighted by the seasonally passible National Forest Service Road 22 and 2204 to the Campbell Tree Grove Campground. Nearby, the loop drive around Lake Quinault in the Quinault Rainforest is more regularly maintained. When driving this scenic road in your hunt for Sasquatch, stop over at Lake Quinault Lodge where President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in the fall of 1937.

Mount St. Helens is another must-search area. Near the Kalama River, the seasonally open roads from Merrill Lake Campground to Red Rock Pass near the Ape Caves are sufficiently off the beaten path to be a natural home for Sasquatch. Close by, Forest Road 25 near Swift Reservoir is another remote route where few seem to travel or linger, giving you a chance to listen and watch for the creature.

Cascades Mist
Photo by Michal/AdobeStock images

Over Lonely Roads

Further east, the drive to the Ape Canyon Trailhead and Lava Canyon is a must for those looking for Sasquatch, and the view is incredible. North Fork Survivors gift shop on Highway 504 past Toutle is a good place to get more information on the history of Sasquatch sightings. However, if you are already here, head into Oregon and see the displays and information at the North American Bigfoot Center in Boring, Oregon.

In the Cascades, the area surrounding Lake Wenatchee is remote and has a healthy population of bears, making it ideal for Sasquatch sightings. The White River Road from northwest of the lake to its termination past White River Falls Campground is gorgeous and wild. Similarly, the Chiwawa River Road from Fish Lake to the Trinity Trailhead is as remote as roads come, nested between towering peaks. Just east of Stevens Pass, you’ll find a turn for Rainy Creek Forest Service Road. Heading north, this seasonally traversed, 20-mile road connects with Lake Wenatchee, giving a scenic drive into lesser-travelled territory.

Near the North Cascades, head to the Okanogan for a chance to see Bigfoot. The Okanogan is remotely populated and near the towering, remote peaks of the North Cascades. The landscape supports both grizzly, black bears and, possibly, Sasquatch. A drive along Goat Creek Road near Mazama all the way up National Forest Road 300 is just 10 miles, but ridiculously remote and ideal for potential sightings.

West of Mazama Road 9140, the 3-mile stretch from the Monument Creek trailhead to the Rattle Snake Trailhead makes for a fun detour into a landscape rarely traveled by those who drive the North Cascades Highway. Finally, perhaps the best and most remote route in the region is National Forest Road 5160 from Winthrop to the Thirtymile Trailhead. This seasonally opened gravel road is 29 miles one way, taking you along a route that few visit each year.

A Sasquatch adventure is meant to open your eyes to everything about nature, to connect with the wilds of the West in a way long since lost, and to quietly observe and bond with your surroundings. If you do spot Sasquatch, will you share the information with others who continue to chase the legend of Bigfoot? Or will you let the mystery linger, and respect the nature of a creature that has wished to live in solitude for thousands of years.

–Written by Douglas Scott, last updated in October 2022.

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