Described as a large, ape-like creature, sightings of Sasquatch have been reported for centuries, with many claiming to have encountered the elusive beast firsthand.

Described as a large, ape-like creature, sightings of Sasquatch have been reported for centuries, with many claiming to have encountered the elusive beast firsthand.

Mysterious monsters and mythical beings: Explore the rich folklore of the West Coast

In a place beyond the pines, towering mountains and misty coastlines resides a rich history of folklore shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

The West Coast holds countless tales of mythical creatures and mysterious monsters that lurk in the shadows. From ancient Indigenous legends to today’s urban tales, the folklore of the Pacific Northwest is as vast and varied as the landscape itself.

And the legendary Bigfoot is not the only mythical beast in our neck of the woods. In fact, ‘cryptids’ – creatures of unknown origin yet to be scientifically proven – are frequently reported lurking through our vast forests and deep waters. Here are just a few of the tales that have circulated across borders and around homes, campfires and social gatherings over the last few hundred years…

Sasquatch mural in Harrison, B.C. Jen Blyth / West Coast Traveller photo

Sasquatch mural in Harrison, B.C. Jen Blyth / West Coast Traveller photo

Sasquatch/Bigfoot

Perhaps the most famous of all Pacific Northwest monsters, the Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot, is said to roam the dense forests of the region. Described as a large, ape-like creature, sightings of Sasquatch have been reported for centuries, with many claiming to have encountered the elusive beast firsthand.

READ MORE: Searching for Sasquatch and things that go bump in the night in BC

Explore: Beyond crossing Bigfoot’s path during a hike, there’s no better place to learn about the king of the forest than Oregon. In 2019, Cliff Barakman and his wife, Melissa, opened the North American Bigfoot Center in Boring, Oregon and have since compiled one of the largest Bigfoot collections in the world.

Cliff appeared in every episode of the hit Animal Planet show about a group of Bigfoot hunters who searched the world looking for the creature; the museum boasts his personal collection of casts – one of the largest in the world – as well as props from the show.

From May 24 to 26, Forks’ annual Sasquatch Day takes place at the Rainforst Art Center, 35N Forks Ave. The weekend-long event showcases vendors, sightings, food, and a Q&A with guest speakers. Tickets can be purchased at SasquatchTheLegend.com

A little farther south, along Northern California’s Trinity Highway, you’ll encounter a Bigfoot-themed steak house, a sprawling mural depicting Bigfoot, a towering sculpture and an intriguing Bigfoot museum.

READ MORE: Reality series follows 40-day Alaskan expedition in search of mysterious Bigfoot-like creature ‘Nantinaq’

While the museum preserves regional history, its main attraction is the Bigfoot exhibit, showcasing local evidence. Alongside artifacts from Indigenous tribes like the Hupa, Yurok, Karok, Chimariko and Wintu, visitors can marvel at Bigfoot footprint casts and photographs.

To the north, Harrison B.C. is not only known for its pristine beaches and hot springs – it’s also had its fair share of Bigfoot sightings, becoming the Sasquatch hub of B.C. over the last century.

Combining First Nations’ oral traditions of the local Sts’ailes people with modern folklore, the lakeside community has embraced the Sasquatch as a symbolic figure and potential encounters with the legendary being lie around every corner.

From trekking along the “Sasquatch Trail” to snapping selfies with towering statues of “Harrison Harry,” to participating in guided adventures to track the mysterious creature deep in the surrounding forest, you have many ways to connect with the history of this B.C. beast.

The brand new Harrison Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum, at 499 Hot Springs Rd., promises an immersive journey through the realms of both fact and folklore of the legendary Sasquatch. Explore new exhibits, including captivating carvings, interactive displays, and a glimpse into the rich heritage within the Sts’ailes Longhouse.

Rougarou

Hailing from Louisiana but making its way into Pacific Northwest folklore, the Rougarou is a terrifying creature believed to lurk in the swamps and forests of the region. Described as a humanoid wolf or werewolf, the creature is said to prey on unsuspecting travellers and wayward souls.

Sightings of a creature resembling the Rougarou have emerged from the dense forests of the Olympic Peninsula, where witnesses described a large, humanoid figure with wolf-like features, prowling the remote woods at night. Some locals attribute mysterious disappearances of livestock and pets to the creature.

Similar encounters have come from the rugged wilderness around Mt. Hood National Forest, where hikers and campers have reported eerie howls echoing through the forest at night, accompanied by the sound of rustling underbrush. Some claim to have seen a shadowy figure moving swiftly between the trees, its eyes glowing in the darkness. While skeptics dismiss these stories as folklore or misidentifications of known animals, others remain convinced that something mysterious lurks in the depths of the forest.

Slide Rock Bolter:

In the mountains of Oregon and Washington, a fearsome creature is said to lurk on rocky cliff sides. Described as a massive, whale-like creature with a mouth at one end and a tail at the other, the Slide Rock Bolter is said to prey on unsuspecting travellers by dislodging rocks and causing them to plummet to their doom.

Ogopogo:

Dwelling in the depths of British Columbia’s Okanagan Lake, the Ogopogo is a legendary creature often compared to Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster. Described as serpent-like, with a long, sinuous body, Ogopogo sightings have been reported by Indigenous peoples and settlers alike, with 19 sightings reported since 1981 alone.

In 2022, Dale Hanchar and his wife Colleen were out enjoying the summer waters on Okanagan Lake when just beneath the water’s surface they spotted something curious. The photo appears to be a creature with horns and in the years since, some have speculated it’s seaweed while others are convinced it’s the real deal.

Explore:

Shuswaggi, Shuswap Lake:

While not quite as well known as its Okanagan cousin, sightings of a strange creature dwelling in the depths of Shuswap Lake stretch as far back as 1904.

The creature known as the Shuswaggi has enjoyed various descriptions, ranging from a large, furry mammal resembling a bear to a lengthy, grey-black aquatic creature similar to a giant eel.

Explore:

While looking for the Shuswap Lake Monster here are a few areas you can’t miss:

  • Herald Park is a popular destination campground and day-use area. The park covers 79 hectares of beautiful beach and forested uplands, and boasts a 128-site campground, boat launch and large day-use area.
  • Join the adventure of geocaching, an outdoor treasure-hunting activity that uses GPS technology. Navigate to specific coordinates to find hidden geocaches! In Sicamous, you’ll discover 25 geocaches as part of the Explore Sicamous GeoTour. Download the Geocaching app to get started and embark on your journey to find them!
Cadborosauraus, at Cadboro-Gyro Park in Saanich, B.C., has thrilled generations of children. West Coast Traveller photo

Cadborosauraus, at Cadboro-Gyro Park in Saanich, B.C., has thrilled generations of children. West Coast Traveller photo

Cadborosaurus:

As elusive as the ‘Nessie and Ogopogo, although perhaps not as famous, the Cadborosaurus is believed to be a sea serpent living in the waters off British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.

In 2011, a Discovery Channel special, Alaskan Monster Hunt: Sea Monster Witness, sparked new interest in the Cadborosaurus after fisherman Kelly Nash claimed to have filmed a serpent like creature while fishing for salmon off the coast of Bristol Bay.

Five years later, the Caddy resurfaced on television from the documentary series Sea Monsters: The Definitive Guide. The show focused on such fabled creatures such as the Cadborosaurus that continue to fascinate skeptics and believers.

According to the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club the “only genuine photographs” of the Cadborosaurus were taken in 1937 by the Naden Harbour Whaling station.

Nearly 90 years ago, local fishermen discovered a mysterious creature in a whale’s stomach off Haida Gwaii. These are archival film images that were colourized from black and white.

Nearly 90 years ago, local fishermen discovered a mysterious creature in a whale’s stomach off Haida Gwaii. These are archival film images that were colourized from black and white.

Nearly 90 years ago, local fishermen discovered a mysterious creature in a whale’s stomach off Haida Gwaii – described as 10 feet long with camel-like features, serpentine body and peculiar fins and tail. Word got out after the shocking sight – detailed in C.H. Rhodes’ personal letter to his wife – was leaked to the media.

Explore:

  • To see Cadborosaurus in person, visit Cadboro-Gyro Park in Saanich, part of Greater Victoria. A “lifesize” concrete Caddie stands among other children’s play sculptures – can you climb from nose to tail?

Among the West Coast’s many ​​myths and legends, such as the elusive Bigfoot to the water-bound Ogopogo, these tales continue to captivate and mystify. The next time you travel along the west coast, be on the lookout – you never know what you might see.

Plan your adventures throughout the West Coast at westcoasttraveller.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @thewestcoasttraveller. And for the top West Coast Travel stories of the week delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our weekly Armchair Traveller newsletter!

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