Northwest Trek in Eatonville, Washington, is a great outdoor activity that provides easy social distancing. Plus, you can enjoy some of the best Pacific Northwest flora and fauna.
There are three ways to experience Northwest Trek, so you can make the choice based on your budget and whether you want to walk, ride, or drive. All of the options allow you to see and learn more about the wildlife native to Washington and the Pacific Northwest.
While what you see will vary based on the season and time of day, as well as which tour you choose, you can generally expect to see the following:
Bald eagles -Once on the endangered species lists, these magnificent birds have been upgraded to protected status. The eagles living at Northwest Trek were injured or ill and would not have survived in the wild.
Bears - You’ll see both black and grizzly bears and the best viewing spot is the Bear Bridge that overlooks their home area.
Birds - Native birds include golden eagles, owls, vultures, and songbirds.
Cats - These can be hard to spot, they have natural camouflage, but hopefully, you'll see a bobcat, cougar, and Canada lynx.
Forest and wetland creatures - Some of these are in outdoor space and some must be viewed from through a viewing glass enclosure. Badgers, raccoons, skunks, porcupines, and wolverines.
Canines - Grey wolves and red fox are there, but hard to spot as they blend into their surroundings.
Deer - On the Wild Drive, you'll spot lots of black-tailed deer. Roosevelt elk, named for President Theodore Roosevelt, can be spotted as well. Caribou (reindeer) are also fairly abundant. Also keep an eye out for the broad antlers of the North American Moose, the largest member of the deer family.
Bison - The American Bison is North America's largest land mammal. With long brown hair, they have a shaggy and endearing look.
One-way paths create a tour through the main exhibits of Northwest Trek in a general admission option.
Limited food and beverages are available at the Forest Cafe. Indoor dining on weekends (subject to capacity limitations), and to-go options available weekdays by window service. The picnic pavilion is open for outside dining and you may bring in your own food. Credit and/or debit cards only - no cash.
Park entry is $22 for adults; $20 for seniors; $14 for youth (ages 5-12); $10 for tots (ages 3-4); free for infants. This price is for advance online tickets. Charges are $3 higher when purchased at the front gate. Facemasks required for all visitors 5 and over.
Keeper Adventure tours
Keeper Adventure Tours are an exclusive opportunity to join a Northwest Trek wildlife keeper on a 90-minute open-air Jeep safari. Experts lead the safari and help spot wildlife that you might miss.
Do you have a question about that bald eagle or Roosevelt elk? Your guide will answer all your questions and help you understand the wildlife ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest.
The Keeper Adventure is priced at $400, with a maximum of five people from the same household on the Jeep. Advanced online ticket purchase required. Ages 5 and up only. Facemasks required. This is the premium tour option at Northwest Trek and also includes admission to the park. More info here.
The Wild Drive is the self-driving option for touring Northwest Trek’s 435-acre free-roaming area. Queue up for scheduled departures with up to eight people in your vehicle. Just before departing on the drive, tune into the Northwest Trek “channel” and listen to the guide narrate what you’re seeing as you drive through.
The free-roaming area includes hills for the mountain goats, forests for the birds, a meadow for bison, elk, caribou, deer, and moose, and a lake for ducks and the Trumpeter swan. Wildlife lives and plays here, we are merely temporary visitors. Don't be surprised if an animal meanders fairly close to your vehicle. It's not unusual for one of the big, lumbering, and intimidating North American bison to cross in front of your car.
Wild Drive is $90 per vehicle (discounted for Northwest Trek members) and includes up to eight people in a vehicle. Reservations required via advance online purchase. Includes admission to the park. More info here.
Northwest Trek is located at 11610 Trek Drive East, Eatonville, Washington, just under an hour's drive from Tacoma.
Photo credit: author