Washington State Birding and Wildlife Tours

Washington

If you are interested in Washington Birding and Wildlife Tours, come and join us at Kaiyote Tours!

Check out the photos and video at the bottom of the page

We organize birding and nature tours throughout Washington State.  Scroll down to view Washington State Birding and Nature Tours.  We offer a complete range of activities and tours in Olympic National Park.  Please go to that page for more info on tours within Olympic National Park.

To view a Photo Album from a photographer who was on the Eastern Washington Tour click here:  

Ersten Imaoka’s Photo Album (opens new page)

On the far western shores of Washington State the land rises up from the ocean floor and ascends to the top of the highest volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range: Mount Rainier at 14,411 feet. Washington is located on the edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire and is home to eleven volcanoes. The last volcano to erupt in Washington was Mount St. Helen in 2008 which was a small eruption compared to the massive 1980 eruption. Of the eleven volcanoes, only four are considered extinct and many have been active within the last 150 years.
 
For thousands of years the land of the Pacific Northwest lay dormant under massive ice sheets that flowed down from the north; pressing and scraping the land, these ice sheets sculpted and created the terrain we know today. In most areas the ice was 3,000 feet thick, but in some areas, it was twice as thick. As the glaciers melted and exposed the earth, life quickly moved in, colonized and created habitats that evolved and followed the receding edge of the ice. The flora and fauna learned to adapt and survive as life slowly moved up to higher elevations. Today you can find amazing life of all kinds from seashore to mountain top.
 
Does it rain in Washington? Ah, well, yes and no. If you focus on eastern Washington you would say no, there are many parts of eastern Washington that average less than 10 inches of rain a year and some only 7.5 inches (even Tucson, Arizona gets 12 inches of rain a year!). Western Washington is famous for rain, especially the Olympic Peninsula. Towns like Forks and south to Lake Quinault and Aberdeen average 12 - 13 feet a year, with records up to 15 feet and even more at higher elevations in the wilderness. Port Angeles is in the "Rain Shadow" of the Olympic Mountains and gets about 26 inches of rain a year.  Seattle gets about 40 inches of rain each year, mostly in the form of drizzle. 
 
Because of such great variations of elevation and rainfall, Washington has numerous life zones and an abundance of habitats with micro habitats: Alpine, Sub-Alpine, Montane, Temperate Rainforest, Oceanic and Riparian in the west and Eastern Washington habitats include arid and desert zones, wetlands, lakes, scrub lands and the massive Columbia River Valley.
 
And what does this all mean? Biodiversity! Here are the stats: 515 species of birds, 140 mammals, 25 amphibians, 28 reptiles, more than 2,000 moths and butterflies, nearly 500 freshwater and marine fishes and 3,100 plant species (not including mosses, lichens, liverworts and fungi) and over 20,000 invertebrates in Washington state.
 

Special notes:  If you are interested in geological and human history, you can find more info at the bottom of the Olympic Home Page.  If you are interested in maritime history, you can find info about the early explores by scrolling down on this page. 

Now is the time to visit beautiful and diverse Washington and see what you can find!
 
Call us at 970-556-6103 or email us at KaiyoteTours@gmail.com to book your trip! 
 
Single Day Trips:  If you only need to book a tour by the day and will supply your own lodging, the price is $365 per day for 1 - 2 people and $45 for each additional person.  Price includes lunch, snacks, and water to refill your water bottle. 
 

We have existing multi-day itineraries or we can customize a tour for you

1)  Olympic Peninsula Tour 7-day tour:  Tour starts with pick-up at the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal, which is easily accessible from the Seattle airport. From  Bainbridge  the tour will travel the entire loop of the Olympic Peninsula stopping at all significant sites including Olympic National Park. Tour ends with drop off at the Bremerton ferry terminal.  Lodging options:  Camping at state parks or staying at hotels.

Click here for a detailed Itinerary of the 7-day Olympic Peninsula Tour

 Next Tour:  June 5 - 11, 2022, 1 spot left, or let us know what dates work for you 

Click here for a list of BIRDS we have seen on the Olympic Peninsula

2)  Eastern Washington Tour 9-day tour:  Tour starts with pick up at your hotel near the Seattle airport and the route will make a loop through eastern Washington, stopping at significant sites along the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake Rivers and the Cascade Mountain Range.  Lodging options:  Camping at state parks or staying at hotels.

Click here for a detailed Itinerary of the 9-day Eastern Washington Tour

 Next Tour:  June 25 - July 3, 2022, 0 spots left.  Let us know what other dates work for you 

Click here for a list of BIRDS we have seen in Eastern Washington

3)  Washington Biodiversity Tour 12-day tour:  The 10-day tour starts with pick-up at the Bainbridge ferry terminal, which is easily accessible from the Seattle airport. The tour will start with travel in the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula and down the Pacific coast. From the coast we will travel east along the Columbia river and cross the Cascades just south of Mount Rainier. In eastern Washington, the tour will visit regional hot spots in the Columbia River Basin.  From the rainforest to the edge of the arid country side of eastern Washington, on this tour you will experience the bio-diversity of Washington state and visit habitats and life zones as diverse as the lowland rainforest, pacific coast, inland lakes, estuaries and river sloughs.  Lodging options:  Camping at state parks or staying at hotels. 

Click here for a detailed Itinerary of the 12-day Biodiversity tour

Let us know what dates work for you 

Click here for a list of BIRDS we have seen in Washington State

Pricing

Price for car-camping tours at state park and national park campgrounds: The 7-day Olympic Peninsula tour is $2,275 per person, the 9-day tour is $2,925 per person, and the 12-day Washington State tour is $3,900 per person.  Please contact us for solo traveler rate.

Price for hotel tours (based on double occupancy):  The 7-day Olympic Peninsula tour is $3,045 per person, the 9-day tour is $3,915 per person, and the 12-day Washington State tour is $5,220 per person.  Please contact us for solo traveler hotel rate.

Pricing details

Car Camping Tours include:  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, camping gear, and entrance fees into state parks and national wildlife refuges.

Hotel Tours include:  Lodging, breakfast, lunch and entrance into state parks and national wildlife refuges. (dinner not included, please see note below) 

Not included:  Dinner is not included with hotel tours*, national park entrance fees (if you already have a national park pass, please bring it along).  

*Dinner for hotel tours is not included:  For tours with hotel stays, dinner is not included.  We eat at a restaurant every other night and you are free to be on your own or join the group for dinner.  On the nights we don't eat at a restaurant, we get food to-go from a deli, grocery store, or fast food place.  All the hotels we stay at have refrigerators and microwaves and the hotels are usually located within walking distance to restaurants.  

Camping tours include breakfast, lunch, and dinner:  Breakfast will be cooked on the grill or on the fire at camp. Lunch will be picnic style, sandwiches, fruit, etc. Dinner will be cooked on the grill or on the fire at camp.  We travel with a mini-Weber Charcoal Grill and we can grill steaks, hamburgers, chicken, or fish.  Sometimes we have hotdogs and s’mores on the fire.  We also travel with a Dutch Oven and cook shrimp stir-fry, pasta dishes and other delicious meals. We can accommodate vegetarians and vegans, no problem!

Lodging:  We recommend "car-camping" tours because we will see more birds and wildlife while staying at the campgrounds.  We have wonderfully comfortable tents and sleeping pads.  If you choose to join a tour that provides hotels/cabins, the stops and locations are approximately the same.  The hotel/cabin lodging is "medium class" hotel, such as Best Westerns. 

Gear you need to bring:  Outdoor clothes including hiking boots, rain jacket and pants and warm clothes, including hats and gloves.  The mountains can be cold even in the summer.  Everyone should have their own head lamp and/or flashlight, refillable water bottle, day pack for hiking and a personal small emergency kit. 

Campfires:  Most all camping locations permit campfires (when there is not a fire ban), and we will have a campfire every night.

Showers:  There are pay showers at most all of the state park campgrounds, but not at the national park campgrounds.

Electricity:  There will be electricity at some of the campsites.  We travel with a lithium generator and you will have access to power for recharging your equipment.

Custom Tours

We also offer Custom Tours.  You can choose lodging at either campgrounds or hotels.  Please let us know if you have specific birds and/or wildlife that you would like to see and how many days you would like to tour Washington.  Please request an itinerary and we will send you the day to day details of the tour. 

Details for Custom Multi-day Tours

  • Travel Dates: By request or join an already scheduled trip
  • Group size:  2 - 8, plus guides
  • Trip Length:  Minimum of 3 days (2 nights) and custom as you choose. 
  • Price:  Car-camping tours at state and national park campgrounds are $325 per person, per day. Tours at hotels/cabins are $435 per person, per day, based on double occupancy. Please contact us for solo traveler hotel rate.
  • Not included:  Entrance into national parks (if you already have a pass, bring it along), snacks in between meals. 
  • Hotel Tours include:  Lodging, breakfast, lunch and entrance into state parks and national wildlife refuges, dinner not included, please contact us for details.
  • Car Camping Tours include:  Food, camping gear, and entrance into state parks and national wildlife refuges.

Gear List

If you need gear, we can supply it at no extra charge.  Just let us know in advance.

Suggested to bring:
1) Backpack for your gear
2) Rain gear or rain poncho or umbrella
3) Refillable water bottle
4) Sunscreen and bug spray
5) Hats for both sun and warmth
6) Binoculars
7) Wear Layered comfortable clothes. 

Payment and Cancellation Policy
Single-day tours:
  Full payment is due 72 hours prior to tour. There are no refunds within 72 hours of tour. 

Multi-day tours:  A non-refundable payment of $600 per person is requirement to reserve a spot on a trip.  Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure date.  If you are reserving a spot within 90 days of start date, full payment is required to reserve a spot.

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, PayPal and check payment. 

Kaiyote Tours is authorized by the National Park Service, Department of Interior, to conduct services in Olympic National Park.  Kaiyote Tours holds a commercial use permit to conduct services in Olympic National Forest, Washington State Park lands, and national wildlife refuges mentioned in these Washington state tours. 

More photos can be found here:  Photo Gallery (opens new page)

 

Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery:  During the pandemic I spent a lot of time in Montana, specifically near Butte, and I often traveled and went birding in the areas of Three Forks and the Jefferson River valley.  During these travels I found myself traveling along the same routes of Lewis and Clark.  Three Forks is the confluence of the Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison Rivers, which creates the Missouri River.  When Lewis and Clark arrived at the three forks on July 25, 1805, they didn’t know which way to go, and they didn’t know that they had reached the end of the Missouri River. 

Three Forks is also the area where Sacagawea had been kidnapped from the Shoshone camp by the Hidatsa tribe about 7 years prior to the Corps of Discovery Expedition at about age 9 years.  Once the expedition arrived at The Forks, they divided the crew and proceeded to explore all three rivers trying to find the best route.  Sacagawea recognized the three forks and followed the Jefferson River up the valley and the expedition was able to find the Shoshone tribe and Sacagawea was reunited with her family. This was a significant event for the survival and completion of the expedition.

Lewis and Clark named the three rivers after men they felt were important to the expedition:  The Madison River was named after James Madison, who at the time was the U.S. Secretary of State and who would later succeed Jefferson and become the 4th president of the United States.  The Gallatin River was named after Albert Gallatin who was the U.S. Treasury Secretary from 1801–14. And the Jefferson River was named for Thomas Jefferson, whose original idea created the Corp of Discovery.  This confluence is now a state park, which a great birding area.

Thomas Jefferson believed controlled of the Mississippi River was essential to the economy and sovereignty of the United States and that the settlement of the west by Americans could not be stopped.  Napoleon also understood that to try and stop the American’s movement west into French territory would only lead to war and although Jefferson requested to purchase only part of the French territory, Napoleon included the whole territory of French controlled land in the purchase.   In July of 1803, the Louisiana Purchase became official and nearly doubled the size of the United States.  The land acquired was the western drainage of the Mississippi River, and lands east of the continental divide with the exception of what is now Texas and New Mexico.  Much of the land had been unexplored and it was believed that from the east coast to the west coast was one big forest of trees. Jefferson also believed a water route connected the east to the Pacific Ocean.  From August 31, 1803 to September 25, 1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, travelled from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Coast, to what is now known as Astoria, Oregon, and back to St. Louis.  No water route was found:  They found the Rocky Mountains instead.

When the expedition decided to cross the Bitterroot Mountains (Idaho) on foot to find the Columbia River in the fall of 1805, they started from a location that is now known as Traveler’s Rest State Park. Sacagawea, who at the time was approximately 17 years old, left her family and continued with the expedition carrying her 6-month old son the entire time.  Crossing on land from the Jefferson River to the Clearwater River took nearly 2-months and the group traveled 350 miles on horse and foot, averaging 5 – 6 miles a day.  They had expected a quick mountain pass of up and over one range but what they found was a series of lengthy mountain ranges and mountains higher than they had ever imagined existed.

The worse of it was when they actually had to cross the continental divide within the Bitterroot Mountains. On the return trip heading east, Meriwether Lewis wrote about it: “140 miles of high Steep ruged Mountain, 60 miles of which is Covered from 2 to 8 feet deep with Snow in the last of June.  William Clark wrote: “I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life. Indeed I was at one time fearfull my feet would freeze in the thin mockersons which I wore.” 

Once they reached the Clearwater River, it was a quick journey in canoes to the Snake River and then onto the Columbia River.  And on November 7, 1805 Captain William Clark declared: "Ocean in view! O! The joy!”, but he had only seen the massive Columbia River estuary and it would be another week until they saw the actual Pacific Ocean.

What if they had not survived the crossing? Lost in mountains in some unknown location?  How would history have changed?   Their fate would have been lost to history, we would have never known, and people might still be looking for the “lost expedition” today.  It is amazing everyone survived, not only to see the Pacific Ocean, but to complete the return journey back to St. Louis.   On the entire journey only one person died and that was Charles Floyd, who died 3-months into the expedition at age 22, and he mostly likely died from a ruptured appendix. 

By the time I read the book, “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen E. Ambrose, I was fairly familiar with the story of Meriwether Lewis.  I had read some of Lewis’ journals, biographies, and I knew that he committed suicide at age 35, 3-years after the completion of the Corps of Discovery.  But nothing prepared me for reading the history and story in chronological order as in Stephen Ambrose’s book.  The story of his life after the expedition, which led to his suicide is so tragic and heartbreaking, I cried and was depressed about it for days.  Why had he been left alone?  Where was Clark? Where was Jefferson?  It was such a tragic end for someone so great, I was angry, but mental illness was misunderstood and ignored, as it is often still today.

I also recommend viewing Ken Burns documentary, “Lewis & Clark, The Journey of the Corps of Discovery” and although I was disappointed with it, mainly due to the fact it was too short. It is worth viewing because there are great interviews with Stephen Ambrose and other historians included in the DVD special features.   (I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War” series, twice… and was expecting a longer series.) 

William Clark and Meriwether Lewis were great friends and dedicated co-captains of the expedition.  They met in 1794 during the “Whiskey Rebellion”, when Clark was one of Lewis’ commanding officers.  When Thomas Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to pick a 2nd in command, Lewis did not hesitate to name William Clark, but he insisted that they shall be “co-captains”, which was unheard of in the U.S military.  They worked well together, like opposites that filled-in for each other’s weakness, enabling them to stand strong together.  Through most of the westward journey, Meriwether Lewis walked whenever he could.  Traveling up stream, the going was slow, and Lewis preferred to be on the land and walked.  William Clark preferred to travel with the boats.

I have several tours that encompass two major parts of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  You can visit these areas by either “car-camping” along the way or staying at hotels. Click on the state name to view the webpages and find the itineraries. 

1)  Montana: Bozeman, Three Forks, and the Jefferson River. 

2)  Washington:  The Columbia River and the Snake River.