Experiencing Northwest Trek’s Wild Drive Tour

Imagine driving through a forest, spotting everything from fluffy white mountain goats to majestic caribou. Imagine the opportunity to do just that with your family in the car, as an experienced naturalist points out the unique characteristics of these animals and teaches you about their land, their habitat, and their preferences. With the new Wild Drive Tour at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, you can do exactly that. 

Northwest Trek Wild Drive

As the Coronavirus swept the U.S., and many businesses closed, family attractions were part of that group. Bowling allies, movie theatres and zoos temporarily closed their doors, and that included Washington’s Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. But with the desire to re-open for their guests and get their employees back to work, Northwest Trek has come up with an ingenious idea – your own private Wild Drive.

Thanks to the donation of land from Dr. David “Doc” and Connie Hellyer in 1971, Northwest Trek was able to open in 1975, under the purview of Metro Parks Tacoma. On site, a multitude of animals native to the Pacific Northwest can be discovered as the park continues working toward their mission of promoting conservation, education, and recreation.


The Wild Drive tour, currently running until August 31, allows you and your family to experience the Northwest Trek tour in the comfort of your own vehicle, rather than the park’s typical tram. The tour takes you through Northwest Trek’s 435-acre Free-Roaming area, which is home to Roosevelt elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, caribou, swans, and deer.


Northwest Trek Tour

Northwest Trek offers the ability to purchase your ticket online to reserve your time slot, and all you have to do is show up on time. There’s no contact and no exchange of money on-site, so once you pull up to the staging area, it’s only a matter of time before you head out into the Free-Roaming area to spot majestic animals of the Northwest.

During our visit, we were thrilled to learn so much about the animals we were seeing, from the reasons why mountain goats need to be relocated to the story of how Roosevelt elk got their name. One of the park’s naturalists chats with you via an FM radio station along the way, pointing out animals and sharing about Northwest Trek in an engaged, informative program

Northwest Trek Wild Drive cars driving through park

Groups of only 10 cars go through at a time, making it a personal experience for you and your family as you wander through everything from meadows and wetlands to stunning forests on safari.

As Northwest Trek worked to find an option that would allow them to open amidst Coronavirus, and share their beautiful land with all of us, they certainly got creative with the Wild Drive. This may just be a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive through the park that has served as an icon of the Pacific Northwest for decades. And as you plan for your visit, don’t forget to pack your camera! 

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Molly Allen

Molly is a contributor for a number of lifestyle, travel, food and drink publications and has been published in titles such as Washington 1889, Sip Northwest and Brides. With a passion for small businesses, as well the great outdoors, she loves to explore every chance she gets.

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