If you live in, or plan on
visiting the Pacific Northwest, you're in the heart of Bigfoot
territory - assuming that such a creature actually exists, of
course, and that's an assumption that is difficult to prove,
either positively or negatively.
Although Bigfoot sightings span
every state in the US (except Hawaii) and most Canadian
provinces, there's a clear concentration of sightings on the
west coast, with Washington state having the largest number of
A History of Bigfoot or Sasquatch
The generic concept of large mysterious animals that are rarely
seen is commonly shared across many cultures and countries, and
dates back with varying degrees of vagueness way into history.
More formal reporting of these creatures evolved with the advent
of better methods of communication, with shared information about
sightings seeming to grow a continuing and increasing interest in these mysterious
The first work that attempted to tie together what had formerly
been independent and unconnected regional folklore appeared as a series of
syndicated newspaper articles in the 1920s in some Canadian newspapers in which author J W Burns
collated information about regional traditions and
The origin of the term Sasquatch
However, the major contribution for which Burns is most
remembered these days was to
replace the past practice whereby each local tradition featured
its own name for the creature involved (typically in a local dialect of the local Indian
tribe) with a broader name which he used for all such phenomena.
This name, anglicized from a British Columbian Indian word, was
As a result of his articles, the concept of the Sasquatch became
more widely known in western Canada, and it became increasingly
understood in the US in the years that followed.
The origin of the the term Bigfoot
After an earlier footprint photo in 1951, Sasquatch finally made
it into the big time in 1958, when large footprints were seen,
photographed, and made into plaster casts, around the Bluff
Creek area in Humboldt County, California.
An article in
the local Humboldt Times was titled 'Bigfoot', due to the 16"
size of the footprints, and the new name proved popular.
Although a seminal event in Bigfoot lore, many years later the
footprints have become to now generally considered to have been
Is there a difference between a Sasquatch and a Bigfoot
These days the two terms Bigfoot and Sasquatch can be considered
interchangeable, and it seems to be a local preference for which
term is more commonly used.
Possibly Sasquatch is used
more frequently in Canada, and Bigfoot more frequently in the
US. Prior to the evolution of these terms, other general
terms such as 'woodland ape' and 'wild man' (or 'wild men') had
also been used.
Searching for Bigfoot becomes an active organized activity
Prior to the 1958 Bluff Creek footprints, there was little
organized activity or formal groups of people actively searching
The publicity and interest in the footprints in 1958 lead to the
formation of various groups, and organized searches for
Bigfoot (Bigfoots? Bigfeet?) became increasingly common, in the Bluff Creek area and
more generally elsewhere in the US and Canada too.
Naturally the development of the internet has given rise to a
whole new level of information sharing and has allowed for much
more Bigfoot data to be collated and presented as an integrated
totality. Many websites are dedicated to the topic, and
organizations such as the
Researchers Organization share their findings and data with
everyone who cares to visit their site.
Other prominent websites include
North American Bigfoot Search and
Is Bigfoot Real?
That's a question I can't (and won't) definitively
answer. You'll have to form your own opinion.
There are three schools of thought about Bigfoot. The
first says they do exist, and that they are simply
what they seem to be - large ape like creatures. This theory
includes various layers of explanation for their reclusiveness
and why there has been so little 'hard' evidence of their
existence, and accepts that mixed in with genuine data is a
regrettable amount of hoaxing and fraud.
The second school of thought is equally simple, and holds that
they don't exist. This approach treats all the Bigfoot
'evidence' as hoaxing, fraud, jokes, or innocent
things that have been misinterpreted.
The third approach suggests there are mysterious creatures out
there, but says they are not necessarily flesh and blood creatures
such as ourselves and other animals. Instead, this theory
ascribes supernatural or perhaps otherworldly powers to Bigfoot,
perhaps considering them as spirit beings or sometimes linking
them in with UFOs and other strange phenomena.
Fact - at least some Bigfoot claims are false
It is true that many of the Bigfoot 'sightings' in the past have
ended up being debunked and shown to be untrue. But should
all such sightings and related Bigfoot phenomena be tarred by
the same brush?
Does the fact that some people predictably
get fun out of playing a practical joke on credulous friends and
society in general, and that some people seek ways to
fraudulently profit from such things, mean that we should
therefore disparage every other Bigfoot phenomenon too?
We feel it is fair and sensible to approach Bigfoot claims with
a degree of skepticism - possibly even a degree of cynicism.
We can understand the school of thought that says there is some
sort of primal need deep within our souls to believe in the
existence of larger creatures than ourselves - this is used to
explain the presence of such creatures in ancient and perhaps
more fanciful legend, and all around the world, as well as more
specific and more recent Bigfoot events.
Lack of dead bodies or bones
One troubling aspect of Bigfoot is the lack of dead bodies, or,
at the very least, bones and other remains. In a situation
where there is still an abundance of dinosaur bones being
unearthed, why have we never found any evidence of former
Bigfoot advocates have gone as far as to suggest that maybe the
creatures observe some sort of ritual that involves accelerating
the decay of dead carcasses. We find this to be a bit of a
stretch to accept, but not an impossibility.
The lack of any incontrovertible evidence - which almost
unavoidably has to take the shame of a live or dead Bigfoot - is
an obstacle to accepting the existence of these creatures, but
it certainly isn't conclusive 'proof' that they don't exist.
Conjecture - Bigfoot is certainly a scientific possibility
On the other hand, there's no obvious reason why the existence
of a Bigfoot type creature is entirely impossible, and from a
physiological and medical point of view, there do not seem to be
any overwhelming impossibilities present in terms of such a
If such a creature is reclusive and somewhat intelligent, and if
there are only small colonies of these creatures, living by
choice in out of the way parts of forests where humans are
seldom if ever found, then it is entirely possible that all we ever
come across are occasional brief glimpses and traces of their
As for the possibility that Bigfoot is some sort of
inter-dimensional or spiritual or UFO type creature, these are
of course somewhat more fanciful concepts, and perhaps require a greater
degree of caution because they require us to accept something
beyond that which current scientific understanding and our
world-experience to date would accept.
We feel it is appropriate to keep
an open mind and to evaluate Bigfoot sightings and claims on
their merits without too much prejudging of matters beforehand,
while giving preference to explanations that suggest less
other-worldly powers to any possible Bigfoot sightings.
What percentage of Bigfoot sightings might be real or fake?
This is a relevant question, but impossible to answer, because
various reporting organizations apply varying degrees of
validation before advising of a possible Bigfoot related
A credible organization such as the Bigfoot Field Researcher's
Organization provides some degree of validation of the reports
it publishes (but in reality their validation is probably less
rigorous than they claim it to be), and also categorizes their
reports into three categories
based upon the value and credibility of each report.
On the other hand, some of the highest profile Bigfoot
encounters - encounters which at the time have been accepted as
credible - have subsequently been disproven, perhaps due to one
of the conspirators subsequently confessing. But even such
confessions are sometimes no more convincing than a suggestion
that the event was real - there have been inconsistencies in
some of the confessions which suggest that, just like the police
suffer from people who strangely choose to confess to crimes
they never committed, so too do some people want to enjoy some
undeserved notoriety as a Bigfoot faker when in fact they are
So nothing is guaranteed as true, and equally, very little is
guaranteed as false. And, clearly, just because some
encounters and 'evidence' has subsequently been disproven does
not mean that all the thousands of sightings over the last 100
or so years are equally fraudulent.
What is (a) Bigfoot or Sasquatch
A Bigfoot or Sasquatch can be described as a cryptid - ie, a
member of a species of creature that may or may not exist, with
no clear confirmation either of their existence or of their
non-existence (it being, of course, very hard to prove a
negative). The 'science' of the study of such creatures is
referred to as cryptozoology.
If we concentrate on the concept of Bigfoot being a 'normal'
rather than supernatural being then the 'classic' description of a Bigfoot is
of a hairy upright mammal, ranging in height from an extreme low
of about 6' up to an extreme high of about 10', with the more
common height range being perhaps 6'6" up to 8'.
Footprints have been found ranging in size up to 24" long and 8"
wide. Generally the footprints show the creature to have
five toes (in common with humans and all known apes) but some
alleged footprints have six toes and others show as few as two.
Bigfoot's hair is usually described as dark brown or dark red in
color. The weight of the animal is harder to establish,
but based on size and footprint impression depths, is thought to
generally be in excess of 500lbs.
The creature is described as having a strong and unpleasant
smell associated with it. It has a short neck, flattish
face, large eyes, and a large low-set forehead, with a rounded
and crested top of the head. Its arms are longer, as a
proportion of its body length, than human arms.
Bigfoot is believed to be omnivorous. It has been seen
variously eating berries, fish, and small creatures. It is
thought to be more active at night than during the day, and
sightings are often in places close to a water source.
Most sightings are of a single creature, rather than a family
group or tribe (herd? pack?).
Other Similar Creatures Elsewhere in the World
Although Bigfoot may be - by definition - native to North
America, there are tales of similar creatures being found on
every other continent (except for, of course, Antarctica).
Perhaps the best known similar creature would be the Abominable
Snowman or Yeti, reputed to exist in the Himalayas, and with
recorded reports dating back to 1821.
Here is an
extensive list of various other cryptid creatures around the world.
Where Bigfoot is Most Prevalent in North America
The largest number of sightings of Bigfoot have been in
Washington state. This is followed by California then
fascinating map (link broken) shows the count of sightings by state
and province for the US and Canada.
As the map shows, sightings are concentrated on the west coast,
although there is an apparently anomalous smaller concentration
of sightings in Ohio.
As can also be seen, every US state (except HI) and most
Canadian provinces have at least one or more sightings.
Clearly Bigfoot is a bush/forest dweller - sightings are
concentrated in areas with reasonably lush vegetation.
Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest
Here in the Pacific Northwest we are blessed (?) with a high
level of Bigfoot sightings.
Although Oregon shows a smaller number of sightings than
Washington, this might simply mean there are more remote
areas for tribes of Bigfoot to conceal themselves within, and
with high numbers of sightings both in Washington (north of
Oregon) and in central and northern California (to the south of
Oregon) it seems likely there's a spread of the creatures starting from British Columbia and
ranging down to central and inland California.
The range of Bigfoot sightings does not necessarily imply the
underlying density of Bigfoot population numbers. It reflects
more on the density of population in general and
people who visit the area for recreational purposes.
Clearly there'll be no Bigfoot sightings in an area where no
There have been sightings not too
distant from major population centers, and in areas that are not
impossibly remote or difficult to access, making it feasible for
the casual Bigfoot follower to go into 'Bigfoot country'.
In addition to the Bigfoot, Washington claims to be home of
another even more bizarre creature, the
octopus (a claim to be treated with a
healthy dose of salt).
Although some organizations offer formal
expeditions into areas known for higher than normal levels
of Bigfoot sighting, neither they nor we can give you an itinerary that will
take you to places where you'll for sure see a Bigfoot.
Sightings are far and few between, even for the formal
But we can direct you to places where there have been Bigfoot
experiences, and provide more information on that in the next
three parts of this article.
one of a four part series on Bigfoot;
see also :
All about Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest
2. Where and When to
3. How to Search for Bigfoot
suggested Bigfoot touring around Seattle
Related Articles, etc
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24 April 2009, last update
30 May 2021
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.