Cryptids and creeps and creatures, oh my! From forest fairies to a giant batsquatch and even a legendary dragon known as N’hah’hahat’q, who is said to inhabit the waters of Lake Chelan, sinking ships and devouring people. Suffice it to say, our Washington home is shared with some colorful neighbors of the monstrous kind, with the most famous of all being the star of PNW folklore, Bigfoot!

Yes, the giant, hairy cryptid is quite famous around these parts. About 10,000 modern-day reports have been made regarding sightings of the creature in the United States, with more than a third of them originating right here in the Pacific Northwest. With so many incoming reports, Bigfoot has earned a dedicated webpage on the Washington Military Department’s website, and the beloved yet untouchable legend is even protected by a 1969 ordinance that outlaws killing of this ape-like creature with big feet. Incidentally, the same county that created the law, Skamania County, also considers itself a refuge for the cryptid. Still, Bigfoot definitely thinks of the entire Washington wilderness as home, as the being has been spotted throughout the state, including right here in the Tri-Cities!

Tri-Cities and Big Foot
Legendary Bigfoot researcher Wes Sumerlin, pictured here showing off tracks, was with West Richland native Bill Laughery when they stumbled upon two of the creatures. Photo courtesy: North American Bigfoot Center

Generations of Sasquatch Stories in Tri-Cities

The legend of Bigfoot is more than a Washington whisper. This hairy bipedal beast, known by various names across North America and beyond, has haunted campfire stories for ages. Whether it be tales of Yeti, Yowie, or the Skunk Ape, each moniker reflects a regional belief in a giant, hairy cryptid.

“Sasquatch,” perhaps the most recognizable name for the Pacific Northwest legend, is an Anglicization of the word “Sasq’ets,” which loosely translates to “wild man.” This is how the creature was described to early North American settlers as they reported some of the first sightings of Bigfoot in the late 1800s and continued well into the 1900s, with the occasional findings of footprints, echoes from tree knocking, and even a few grainy photos and videos adding to the mystery.

Details of the Tri-Cities’ earliest Bigfoot encounter can be found on the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) website. Founded in 1995, the organization is the only scientific research organization exploring the mystery of the beast or friendly woodland neighbor, depending on your outlook.

Report #1973 recounts one of the earliest encounters of the creature at Badger Mountain, just south of Richland, taking place in March of 1967. At the time, witness Ron Frymier was hunting in the area, looking through binoculars from its summit, when he noticed an enormous, hairy creature on the valley floor below that appeared to be at least 8 feet tall. He witnessed the massive beast walk, then suddenly sprint, following it for several minutes before disappearing into a little ravine. Just five years prior, Frymier had also been hunting east of Richland near the Delta of the Yakima River during wintertime when he encountered massive footprints in the snow.

Tri-Cities and Big Foot
Film footage captured by Rob Gimlin, of Yakima, and the late Roger Patterson in northern California in 1967, inspired a young Russel Acord to dedicate his life to seeking bigfoot. Photo courtesy: Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin

Elusive Encounters Keep Bigfoot Hunters Returning to the Tri-Cities Throughout the Decades

According to 2023 data analysis, Washington leads the country in Bigfoot sightings, with 710 reports and 9.12 sightings per 100,000 people. Most of these sightings are reported in Eastern Washington within the seemingly endless and highly secluded wilderness. Still, one can’t go far without the possibility of a Bigfoot sighting seemingly just beyond the horizon, attracting Bigfoot hunters and curious cryptid seekers alike to all corners of the state, including here in the Tri-Cities.

A number of these so-called Bigfoot hunters have called the region home over the decades, including former game warden and active Bigfoot searcher Bill Laughery of West Richland. Laughery gained media attention due to an encounter with two of the creatures in 1995 that made Los Angeles Times headlines. He, along with Wes Sumerlin, stumbled upon the pair of Bigfoots just seven miles off Mill Creek Road. The men had traveled to the region after hearing recent reports of sightings in the area, and their curiosity had gotten the better of them.

Tri-Cities and Big Foot
From left to right: Bigfoot Researcher Ronny LeBlanc, Primatologist Dr. Mireya Mayor, Survivalist Russell Acord and Expedition Operations Bryce Johnson of “Expedition Bigfoot” in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Photo courtesy: Travel Channel

After about a five-minute staring contest between the men and the creatures, the Bigfoots eventually took off into the Washington wilderness. The men reported hearing screams and found long, dark brown and black hairs caught on broken trees. The samples were sent to Idaho State University for DNA testing, but when the results came back, researchers stated the hairs were of unknown origin.

Until April 2013, Laughery was actively helping with research and expeditions, frequently speaking to Bigfoot groups, creating castings of footprints, and passing along maps of where he believed the creature lived. With his passing in July 2014, the Blue Mountains and Walla Walla area lost their senior core Bigfoot researcher. Still, his legacy lives on in those he mentored, and other Bigfoot enthusiasts continue the hunt for the elusive cryptid.

Author and Bigfoot researcher Russell Acord of Kennewick is another avid expeditionist on the hunt for the being. He was first captivated by the Bigfoot legend after seeing the film footage captured by Rob Gimlin of Yakima and the late Roger Patterson in northern California in 1967. Acord has been searching for the legendary creature ever since, and his expertise on the subject eventually landed the researcher on the Travel Channel’s own “Expedition Bigfoot.” On the show, he, along with three other Bigfoot hunters, scour a 90,000-acre search site for evidence of the existence of Sasquatch, with the team capturing what Acord called “profound” findings that appeared on television screens across the globe.

Tri-Cities and Big Foot
Booths like these set up at the International Bigfoot Conference allow visitors a chance to get up close with feet castings believed to be from Bigfoot while talking to experts. Photo courtesy: International Bigfoot Conference

The Legend of Bigfoot is More Than a Myth in Tri-Cities

Whether you believe in the local legend or operate under the assumption that Bigfoot is and always has been an elaborate hoax, for Tri-Cities residents and all of Washington, this mysterious entity is and probably always will be in every essence of the phrase: The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

Widely celebrated throughout the region, you don’t have to go far to find Bigfoot-themed travel souvenirs, large cut-outs of the cryptid in passing fields and popped up against barns, and even school mascots created in similar images.

Additionally, a plethora of Bigfoot-related conventions, conferences, and events are held throughout the region, where the masses gather to tell their stories and share their insights on the elusive cryptid. Tri-Cities has frequently hosted the International Bigfoot Conference, which is often held the last weekend in August with researchers, scientists, professors, and travelers all meeting under one roof to discuss and debate evidence that points to Bigfoot’s existence.

Celebration of the creature has proven to be a significant tourist draw, and many visitors find themselves scouring the regional forests in search of the legendary cryptid. Clearly, the love is there throughout the state for our large, hairy, woodland neighbor, but remember that though Bigfoot may appear to be a gentle giant in some instances, there’s still very little we know about this daunting beast, so as a gentle reminder it is always best to proceed with caution should you find yourself in a situation where seeing is believing.

Have you caught a glimpse of Bigfoot in the Tri-Cities? Send us your answers to, and your paranormal encounter with the cryptid might just be mentioned in our next Bigfoot feature!

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