My husband and I are not originally from Washington. He is from Texas and I am from Michigan. We have lived here for over 10 years and have gone on many adventures. We like to hike, camp, and take road trips.
We love wildlife and always stop to take photos of cool birds, Elk and Seals. But we have never seen a mountain goat, bear, or the elusive Fisher in the wild. We even have the kids searching for wildlife (and Sasquatch) while we are on our adventures.
Although we usually come up empty-handed, we know that we can always go to Northwest Trek in Eatonville, Washington to see all the beautiful PNW wildlife.
Northwest Trek is a 723-acre wildlife park. There is a zoo portion and a free roam area. Normally, a tram takes you through the free roam area, but due to Covid-19 they implemented a socially distanced method, where you can drive your own vehicle through. You can read more about the Wild Drive here.
Today I will be talking about our experience during the Wild Walk zoo portion of NW Trek. In the past, you could easily do both in one day, but now you must plan and purchase the timed-entry tickets.
Most recently, we went to the Wild Walk and had a great time! Tickets for NW Trek are available for purchase online and you must show up at your chosen time. There is a clearly marked pathway for one-direction walking and social distancing.
I was impressed with all the hand sanitizer stations and signs reminding you to wear your mask and stay 6 feet apart. But most of all, they had the playground area completely blocked off. My kids did not even see the playground- which meant that I did not have to remind them that playgrounds were currently closed. Honestly, I was dreading the meltdown that could have come from that, but NW Trek did an awesome job of preventing it.
We visited early on a Sunday morning and were surprised at how limited the entries were. Our kids could run on the trails and spend a lot of time watching all the animals. We did not feel rushed or slowed down by any other visitors.
The zoo portion of NW Trek has over 25 animals to view and the native plant species along the trails are clearly named and have informational signs. There are two learning centers and they normally have learning stations set up throughout the park. They have closed the centers and stopped the zookeeper talks due to Covid-19. The gift shop was set up outside and they did have a snack booth open for purchases. Cash is not permitted at this time for food/snacks.
Another thing that we were impressed with was all the renovations that they had done. NW Trek is always clean and beautiful, but they made the most out of their time during closure and improved it even more! As an AZA-accredited Zoo, they have exceedingly high standards and take excellent care of their animals. Education and conservation are always a top priority.
So, next time you go exploring in Mt Rainier and do not get to see your bucket-list animals (like the Fisher), don’t worry- you can see them all at NW Trek!