Wildlife Watching

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.

The 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 during the winter months?  Well, we do have cougars and bobacats that live around here, 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.  Once all the skiers are gone, you'll sometimes spot them trotting through the snow.  (We've spotted several from the Bullwheel Restaurant during apres ski.)

We also have black-tailed deer, but we very seldom see them in the winter.  Same with mountain goats.  They live up high but they're almost impossible to spot against the snow.

When you're riding the chairlifts, you'll often see paw prints in the snow.  Most are from snow hares who like to venture out when the slopes are quiet.  We've also been lucky enough to spot weasels (pure white in the winter) from the Northway Chair.

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 stay in their dens although they'll sometimes get up and walk around on a warm day.  There are lots of marmots that live under the snow in Powder Bowl.  And the ground squirrels and chipmunks usually sleep through the winter months. 

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.