The spring is a great time to look for wildlife. In fact, we often joke that the animals outnumber the people out here during our quiet season -- which is one of the reasons spring is a favorite time of year.
We feel very fortunate to have a small herd of elk who live around Alta Crystal Resort from approximately late October until Memorial Day. In the summer, they leave us and summer up at Mt. Rainier and Crystal Mountain. They're actually the main reason you won't see us plant flowers until later in May, as they treat them like dessert after long winters. "Our" herd numbers about 14, and you can often spot them early in the morning or late at night. They'll often hang out on the edges of our recreation field, and they like to sleep there as it's very safe for them. They'll also sometimes walk through the buildings late at night, but they move so quietly that you won't even know they're there unless they happen to kick a rock. In fact, about 1000 elk live in the White River Valley. As you drive up here, you'll see Elk Crossing signs and please drive carefully. We love our elk and don't want you or them to have a collision. The rule of thumb is that, if you see one elk, there are usually others so slow down and make sure none decide to cross right in front of you. Thank you in advance for being cautious.
So what other wildlife might you see around here? Well, we do have cougars and bobcats, but we see them very, very rarely as they have no need to come around humans. Once you get to the top of our road, there's wilderness all the way to North Bend, and the cougar want nothing to do with humans. We have sometimes seen them running across Highway 410 very late at night.
We sometimes see foxes, and the best time to see them is at dusk up at Crystal Mountain. We often see them just trotting across the road, especially once the ski area closes, and it seems every summer there are a few fox kits that are born.
We also have black-tailed deer and you'll mostly see them along the sides of the road. If you hear something around our trash cans at night, it's probably our resident raccoons. We try to discourage them from coming around, but they're more than a little stubborn.
There are also sometimes coyote, and we've mainly seen them trotting across 410 late at night.
There are also several animals that hibernate in this area. Black bear will be waking up soon (if they haven't already) but they're very smart and tend to stay in Mt. Rainier National Park where they're protected. There are lots of marmots that live under the snow in Powder Bowl so, as the snow melts, if you hike or snowshoe up there, you'll often hear their whistles.
At night, you'll often hear a Great Horned Owl hooting over by our field. We have some Pileated Woodpeckers who like to bang on dead trees, and in the mornings and evenings, you'll often hear the long call of wood thrushes, one of our favorite springtime sounds.
Although very rare, we have seen a couple of ermine over the years, as well as one mountain beaver.
And, if you decide to do any exploring at higher elevations, keep your eyes open for mountain goats. They're really hard to spot against the snow, and we usually just look for puffs of white that move.
We love hearing about guests' animal sightings so please let us know what you see. The wild animals that live out here are one of our favorite things.