Wild Washington

Where to spot Washington’s furry, feathered, and finned wildlife icons.

Orcas

Few outdoor experiences surpass watching these beloved cultural icons of the Salish Sea chase salmon through the water. The males of this endangered species, which grow to 25 feet and sport a six-foot dorsal fin, are an awesome sight. Puget Sound Express runs whale-watching tours from Edmonds and Port Townsend.

Big Game

Get up close and personal with bison, elk, moose, and caribou on a tram tour through Northwest Trek Wildlife Park  near Tacoma. An on-board naturalist provides an introduction to the ecology of these wild creatures with insight to the unique habitats they call home.

Salmon

Witness part of a yearly migration going back thousands of years at the Rocky Reach Dam Visitor Center in Wenatchee, where you can watch salmon and steelhead trout swim up the fish ladder to spawn in the upper reaches of the Columbia River.

Bald Eagle

In winter months, migrating bald eagles gather along the Skagit River to feed on the abundant chum salmon spawning there. Take a guided nature hike from the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport to learn the vital role salmon and eagles play in the Skagit River ecosystem.

Giant Pacific Octopus

They’re nocturnal, weigh on average 100 pounds, love to dine on Dungeness crab, and can change color in an instant. Learn more about these graceful, intelligent cephalopods at the Seattle Aquarium, where they glide and hide in large cylindrical aquariums connected by a transparent tube.

By Nicholas O’Connell

Photo Courtesy of the Seattle Aquarium