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Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Near the Mount Rainier National Park, the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is one of the most unusual city parks in the U.S. Yes, this Eatonville park is basically a zoo, but it is a zoo unlike any you are likely to find elsewhere.

The mission of this 725-acre wildlife park is to present only those animals that are native to the Pacific Northwest (more than 200 at present, but no elephants or giraffes) in settings which accurately recreate their natural habitats. The park also allows visitors to view them in close proximity. This is accomplished in two different areas.

First, naturalist-guided, open-air tram tours wind through a 435-acre free-roaming area that is home to herds of moose, elk, bison, Rocky Mountain sheep and other species.  Second, an easy walking tour allows guests to stroll pathways through the forest to explore natural exhibits of black and grizzly bears, wolves, cougars, raptors and others.

Additional attractions include “Trailside Encounters” with small animals; a discovery center featuring snakes, honeybees and “hands-on” opportunities; as well as miles of both paved and primitive nature trails. Special events are scheduled throughout the summer, fall and holiday season. For example, I attended the highly entertaining, annual “Slug Fest” in June, which was billed as “sliminess, silliness and serious fun with human slug races, crafts and activities for kids, a slug hunt and more.”

Other events include a Trek Trails Weekend, Keeper and Creature Feature Weeks, Elk Bugling and Photo Tours, Senior Month and Winter Wonderland. For a completely different addition to a tour of Western Washington, the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park earns a strong recommendation.

Our tram tour passes the elk herd

Grey wolves, as seen on the walking tour

Black bear in a natural habitat