On his way down to the river, my son almost stepped into the footprints of a bear. They looked fresh, too. The bear(s) was maybe observing us from not too far away. But lucky for us the wild animals in this area has kept their respect for human beeings. They have not (yet) learned to associate humans with food. So be careful, do not throw leftovers in the nature!
Camping is allowed in designated areas. If you camp, food, garbage and other scented items should be stored hanging from a tree branch high over the ground, and take it with you when you leave!!! Do not feed birds or other animals, it could disturb the natural balance and lead to extinction of rare species.
When hiking, always hike in groups and make noise as you walk. This will tell the animals you are there so they can keep away from you. If they feel you are threatening them, they will attack you to defend themselves!
Take care to have enough fuel before you drive into this area! We thought we had plenty, and planned to fill up the tank north of the park, after our hike. But the road was longer than we thought. Only when we came back to the car after the hike did we notice that the fuel indicator pointed to zero! Driving carefully to save fuel, with my heart in my throat I managed to get back to the gate and the possibility to hitchike to the nearest gas station. Then got to the point where the road was more or less downhill, so we could roll. Then down to the main road! We made the decision to rather go back to Orich to look for gas than continue north as planned. Dumb decision! The only gas station we saw, was closed down. We went a little further to turn around, when we noticed a single pump outside a store, and YES, it was functioning and it had the fuel we needed. BUT! While we were scratching our heads trying to figure out how it worked, whether we could use a credit card, just fill and pay afterwards or had to go into the store and pay in advance, this other car parks by the pump. A very annoyed woman apparently tries to convince her husband to start filling their tank, but he is hesitant since we were there first. I try to explain the situation, that we are foreigners and that it looks like we have to go into the store to pay in advance. She answers: "Well, WE are NOT, and WE don't HAVE to!" HUH? Are we a lower class, since we are foreigners? Should we wait subserviently until the locals are finished? Are the people in Orich so rich, they don't need the income from foreign tourists?
Many of the scenic roads that you take through the park are partially paved or unpaved. This means a couple of things:
- It will be a rough ride.
- The lanes are narrow, so no passing and you'll need to take turns with oncoming traffic.
- It takes a lot longer to get from point A to point B
This all means that you need to think about this when planning your day - a few mile drive will take a heck of a lot longer than you think. Also, be careful! There are a lot of blind curves on these roads, and you never know if theres another driver (or a downed tree) right around the next bend!
Please obey all warning signs and stay on the trail for your safety and to protect the area for future generations. Also keep your eyes open for wildlife. You may encounter black bears, elk, mountain lions, bobcats and snakes. Keep in mind theses are wild animals and leave them alone so they will leave you alone. Also remember that the tides in the area are treacherous so keep a close eye on the kids and anyone that is a weak swimmer.
Roosevelt Elk are usually found in open grass lands, however, they can also sometimes be seen in the forest, especially in hot weather when they look for shade to rest in. The elk are the largest mammal in the park, and may weight more than 1,000 pounds. These are wild animals, and very unpredictable, so do not approach them closely. Bulls are especially dangerous in the fall when they are guarding their females. Cows will charge, and rise up kicking with their front hooves if they feel you are a threat. They are even more dangerous when they have calves.
Black Bears, although rarely seen, do live within the park. The best way to keep safe in bear country is to keep food away from them. If you are camping, store your food and scented items such as hand lotions, deodorants, and toothpaste in a secure storage box, or hang them in a tree 200 feet from your campground. The items should be about 10 to 12 feet above the ground, and 5 feet below the branch. Never feed bears! If they become use to people, they become a problem bear, and the park has to destroy them.
Another animal, that is even rarer to see in the park than the bears, is
mountain lions. Sightings have increased, however, over the last few years, and these can be dangerous. Do not let your children play in the forest alone, and for safety it is best not to hike alone. If you should see a lion, please report it to a ranger, so that they can monitor the area, and warn visitors. Do not run, or crouch down. Make your self look big, stand up, face the lion, wave your arms or hold out your jack to look bigger, and slowly back away. Do not turn your back or take your eyes off of the mountain lion. If he attacks shout loudly, and fight back the best you can.