2008-08-22

Northwest Trek near Tacoma is awesome

208-08-21 Northwest Trek Owl
On Thursday, my GF and I visited Northwest Trek in Pierce County.

Northwest Trek is, for lack of a better term, a zoo. But it's not a traditional zoo. The highlight of the park is the free roaming area for large large animals native to the northwest. Bison, moose, deer, elk, sheep, and goats share 400+ acres where they roam freely. Smaller animals live in the areas as well. Some of them were brought in, and others wandered in to the park on their own from the neighboring forests.

I have been to a lot of zoos and animal parks, and never have I gotten as close to as many animals or seen as many of the featured animals as I did at Northwest Trek. At most parks, you might get a glimpse of fur. Here you get the whole beast. And admissions is only $15.

Admission to the park includes a tram ride. For about an hour, the tram driver takes park visitors on a drive through the free roaming area, answering questions, talking about the animals, pointing out interesting features, and telling jokes.

The animals are used to the tram and will often walk right up to it as it cruises through the park.

If you ride the tram, I recommend sitting in the middle or back of it. There are excellent views no matter where you sit, but because of the way the angles work out in the vehicle, it will be more difficult to take pictures and see the beasts from the forward rows of any of the tram cars.

These are some of the pictures we shot from the tram:

2008-08-21 Tram Animals Northwest Trek (2)

2008-08-21 Tram Animals Northwest Trek (3)

2008-08-21 Tram Animals Northwest Trek (1)

2008-08-21 Tram Animals Northwest Trek

After the tram ride, don't miss the exhibits along the trail.

In these they highlight different animals in large enclosures. I guess they'd rather not mix the bears, bison, coyotes, and lynxs in the free roaming area.

These enclosures are amazing. In the bear exhibit, for example, the only thing separating the viewer is a ditch that looks a lot smaller than it likely is. One of the bears came within 15 feet of us.

2008-08-21 Northwest Trek Bear enclosure

The wolves stayed further away, but still checked out the crowd watching them.

2008-08-21 Northwest Trek Wolf enclosure

We tried to see the big cats, too, but they acted like cats do, and decided to ignore everyone who was watching.

2008-08-21 Northwest Trek Cats (1)

2008-08-21 Northwest Trek Cats

There was a coyote enclosure as well, but he was nowhere to be seen. He was probably busy with an Acme deposition.

In an area focused more on the small critters, we did see come beavers as work, and some wolverines. The Wolverines make Logan look positively mellow. One was intent on breaking a branch, and another did nothing but run back and forth like he was doing laps.

2008-08-21 Beaver

2008-08-21 Northwest Trek Wolverine

The park feels small. It doesn't try to show every kind of animal in the Northwest, and you can comfortably see they whole thing in a 3-4 hours (less if you hurry). There is some walking among the enclosures, but the walks aren't nearly as far as the seem to be on the maps.

We had ideal weather conditions for viewing the animals. It was cooler today, overcast, and occasionally rained. If you come on a really nice day, the animals are likely to stay hidden in the brush. But if you have a cool summer day, be sure the check out Northwest Trek.

2008-08-21 Northwest Trek Moose Statue

6 comments:

deep7up said...

Lovely pix...and the pix of the owl is simply awesome!

Doug said...

Good Article, Cromely. You may be the type of person who would enjoy visiting the National Bison Range near Moise (nw of Missoula), in Montana. And while in western Montana, be sure to see Glacier National Park.

Great Blog!

Daisy said...

That looks really fantastic!

Jodith said...

I'm only a couple of hours north of Tacoma. I'm definitely going to have to check this place out.

Metropolismom said...

My little Chesca loves animals. Your blog post made round innocent eyes bigger with amazement.

Thanks for the post.

love lots!
Metropolismom

Cromely said...

@deep7up: Thanks. The lighting was really tough, but he looked right at me to pose.

@doug: I'll have to check that Bison Range out. I was surrounded by them once while driving through Yellowstone. The heard walked around the car nearly licking the windows. I do need to get back to Glacier. I need to get back there. The last time I was there about nearly 20 years ago when I spent a Thanksgiving weekend Hungry Horse.

@daisy: Thanks. And there were no lizards that I could see.

@jodith: It's worth it. I've lived in the Seattle area for 10 years and only just heard about this place this year during and episode of Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. It's the most useful thing I've learned from that show.

@metropolismom:Your welcome. I'm glad I could make her smile.