Bigfoot: The Pacific Northwest's Claim to Cryptid Fame

By: Nicole Antonio  | 
A Sasquatch or Bigfoot is silhouetted in a foggy forest
Is Sasquatch real? Scientists say no, but there are many who believe Bigfoot is out there. Nisian Hughes / Getty Images

One of North America's most famous mysteries is that of a humanlike creature believed to roam the forested areas of British Columbia, Washington state, Oregon and even the northernmost parts of California.

Typically called Bigfoot and also commonly referred to as Sasquatch, the legendary cryptid has eluded the cryptozoology community for decades.


What Does Bigfoot Look Like?

Standing around 7 to 10 feet (2.1 to 3 meters) tall, Bigfoot's body is allegedly covered in dark, shaggy fur that helps it blend into its wooded habitat. Its head is said to be proportionate to its body, featuring a sloping forehead and deep-set eyes.

Sasquatch's face is often described as resembling that of a gorilla — with a wide, flat nose and a pronounced brow ridge — but it's not the face that got this creature its nickname. Bigfoot footprints are reportedly far too large to be human, fueling many an investigation.


Bigfoot: Hoax or Real Animal?

All purported proof of the creature's existence has thus far been discredited. Still, avid cryptozoologists argue that the northwestern United States (along with parts of western Canada) are home to this enormous, hairy beast.

Bigfoot Sightings

Bigfoot believers are, of course, less skeptical than the scientific community when it comes to alleged sightings. Many scientists argue that these eyewitness reports are merely as misidentifications of known animals or are otherwise unreliable, due to poor lighting conditions and the power of suggestion, but at least one account merits some head-scratching.


Back in 1924, a group of miners claimed they had a harrowing encounter with several large, ape-like creatures near Mount St. Helens, Washington. The miners said they were staying in a cabin when the "gorilla men" attacked, and the miners shot at the beasts to get them to retreat.

Skeptics have suggested that the miners' perceptions could have been influenced by the remote and eerie environment. Regardless, the Ape Canyon incident remains foundational in the broader discussion of alleged encounters with such creatures.

Bigfoot Evidence

We'll say it again: There is no concrete evidence that Bigfoot exists. The FBI even examined hair samples that had supposedly come from the forest-dwelling monster, and the bureau concluded in 1977 that the hairs in question were "of deer family origin."

That hasn't stopped people from insisting that mysterious footprints and alleged photographs (always blurry, of course) prove it exists. The most famous piece of "evidence" is the Patterson-Gimlin film, which Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin shot in Bluff Creek, California, in 1967.

The short clip shows what appears to be a large, hairy, bipedal creature — which the two men claimed to be a female Bigfoot — walking through a Northern California forest. It turns its head briefly, providing a profile view of its face.

Skeptics gripe about the film's grainy quality and the creature's seemingly nonchalant behavior while being filmed. The lack of follow-up proof from the same location doesn't help the believers' case.


The Scientific Case Against Bigfoot's Existence

Most scientists emphasize that while the existence of unknown species isn't impossible, the lack of concrete physical evidence — such as remains, carcasses or DNA — challenges the notion of a large, undiscovered primate population. Eyewitness testimony, while intriguing, is often inconsistent and prone to influence from environmental factors.

The absence of consistent, high-quality photographs or videos further fuels skepticism. Practically everyone has a camera on them at all times now, yet this hasn't yielded definitive imagery of Bigfoot that withstands critical scrutiny.


Additionally, the ecological feasibility of supporting a breeding population of such large creatures in various habitats is questionable, given the lack of corresponding evidence like nests or feeding sites.

This article was created in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.