Northwest Trek launching self-driving wildlife tours

EATONVILLE, Wash. – Northwest Trek is adapting to the coronavirus restrictions with a new service for fans of the wildlife park: self-driving tours.

The new Wild Drive tour of the park's Free-Roaming Area opens to the public May 27.

“Wild Drive is unlike anything we’ve ever offered at Northwest Trek,” said Tim Reid, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. “We’re excited to offer our community an unforgettable opportunity to experience wildlife and nature up close in a safe way during this time of social-distancing restrictions.”

Aligned with the governor's Phase 1 reopening plan, this guided experience allows families or households to tour the meadows and forests of the wildlife park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area in a small caravan of cars, led in front and behind by park staff.

Guests learn about the native Northwest species they’re seeing as they drive by roaming herds of Roosevelt elk and massive bison. Other native Northwest animals that can be spotted on this new premier tour include moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black-tailed deer, woodland caribou and a pair of snowy-white trumpeter swans.

You may even spot a newborn bison calf and her mother as the baby animal season begins at NW Trek.

“By driving themselves around our Free-Roaming Area, our guests can see our animals the way our keepers do – up close and in their natural habitats,” said Rick Dietz, Northwest Trek’s deputy director.

Guests on the tour will purchase timed tickets online, meet in their vehicles near the wildlife park’s front entrance, then caravan down to enter the Free-Roaming Area through a special keeper gate. A naturalist will lead the caravan of vehicles and slow to a crawl when animals are spotted.

Guests can download a live audio app so they can hear the naturalist leading the tour talk in real time about the native Northwest species they are seeing as they drive by.

The Wild Drive premier tours will operate while the rest of the wildlife park is temporarily closed to the public due to the governor’s safety restrictions. The entire tour takes about an hour and costs $80 per vehicle with a discounted price of $70 per vehicle for Northwest Trek members.

No animal feeding or interaction is allowed. Click here for more information.