Snowshoe hare tracks with larger back feet imprints ahead of front, in fresh snow near Hurricane Ridge.
Olympic National Park stretches from ice-covered mountain peaks to rocky coast. Between those extremes lie countless places for animals to live. Being a national park and designated wilderness adds protection to help keep these varied habitats relatively undisturbed.
The diversity of landscapes leads to a variety of life histories. Tiny shrews may spend their entire lives wandering only a few hundred yards from where they were born, while cougars and bears may travel miles in search of a mate or a new home range. A Pacific Northwest specialty, the mountain beaver, spends much of its life in its burrow system, emerging only to gather succulent plants to store underground. Some species migrate with the seasons, leaving mountain meadows behind as the snow falls. Others, like snowshoe hares, can remain, even when their mountain habitat is blanketed under 10 feet of snow.
Mornings and evenings are often best for wildlife watching. Sitting quietly and listening will usually reveal more animal activity. Drive slowly and watch for animals crossing park roads; use pullouts for safety. You can help the wildlife of the park survive by keeping your distance, not feeding or enticing any wildlife, and ensuring all food and smelly items are stored safely when camping or backpacking.
Click here for a terrestrial mammals species list.