Northwest Trek – Wild Drive Tours & Wild Walk
Northwest Trek, one of our favorite places to visit here in Pierce County, is expanding their opening to the public. They first opened in mid May after they have been closed for several months due to the Stay at Home orders with Wild Drive tours. And they are now expanding into the Wild Walk experience available too. We will share more below about each of these options and you can choose to do one or the other or both options for visiting Northwest Trek right now.
Wild Walk Experience:
Just as Point Defiance Zoo is opening in mid June, so is Northwest Trek featuring the Wild Walk experience (in addition to the Wild Drive experience that is going on now), which is opening on Thursday June 18th, 2020. You will be able to purchase tickets for the Wild Walk experience starting Wednesday June 10th, 2020.
The Wild Walk is a chance to see the animals along the walking path around the park. It will be different in that they will have a one -way route marked throughout the park for social distancing. They are also requiring timed tickets so they can control the number of people at the park. (Start purchasing your tickets on Wed 6/10). Everyone needs a timed ticket, bought online beforehand, even members.
Changes during the Wild Walk Experience:
There will be changes in your Northwest Trek experience for the safety of all the guests & employees. Here are the changes:
- One Way Path around the Northwest Trek walking paths to see animals – these will be marked with arrows & signs around Northwest Trek
- You are encouraged to wear a mask & keep your 6 foot distance between people
- Kids Trek, Zip Wild, Cheney Discovery Center, Baker Cabin, Forest Cafe, picnic pavilion, trams & other trails will be closed
- There will be no Keeper Chats to avoid congestion
- They will have kiosks for outside food & drink (no outside food allowed)
- Drinking fountains will be closed, so bring your water bottles full (& extra bottles if you need to refill)
- No stroller/wheelchair/scooter rentals – so bring your own if you need this
- No cash – so bring debit/credit cards for any in-trek purchases
What will be the Hours?
Starting Thurs 6/18, they will be open daily from 9:30am – 6:30pm. The last timed ticket entry will be 5:30pm, though.
Also, they will be offering a special visiting time for seniors over 65 & those at high risk of Covid-19 on Tuesdays from 9:30 – 10:30am. So you will need to choose that time when you buy your tickets.
Wild Drive Tours:
They have started Wild Drive Premier Tours – this is where you are allowed to drive in your own car thru the free roaming area of Northwest Trek, instead of riding the Tram ride. You can use your own car to drive thru & see the moose, bison, mountain goats, bighorn sheep & more! Definitely an up-close & personal look at the animals in a way that has never happened before, while being able to safely follow the governor’s health & safety protocols right now.
This may be available for a limited time & it’s such a unique opportunity, but reservations are required so that you have special timed ticket times to arrive & drive thru this area. They will also have an app to download so you can listen to information on the tour from the lead car, telling you about the animals you will see & information typically.
This information is on Northwest Trek’s Facebook Page: Tours are guided with a staff lead car who narrates the tour and a trailing car. They said to allow about an hour total & around 45 minutes in the free roaming area with the small tour group. There is no restroom access during the tour and very limited restroom access before or after the tour is what their site says under FAQ.
(If you have a Northwest Trek membership, the membership will be extended for however long they are closed – if it’s 3 months, then it will be extended 3 months, etc. This is a separate activity that is not included with membership, but they do give members a $10 discount per vehicle. Contact Northwest Trek for more information & questions about the extended membership. See more details on their Facebook page here).
We heard from reader Terese who visited in May & here’s what she had to say:
It was pricey but we figured it was a great way to continue to support the zoo that we love so much. We just got back from the experience and loved it! You feel a ton closer to the animals in your car!
You line up in the parking lot and they give you an app to download so you can listen the the tour like the tram. There is a lead car telling you about the park and doing the look here thing. They have it really organized and made sure everything is done carefully.
Details of the Wild Drive Tours:
Cost per vehicle (not person): $70 for members / $80 for non-members
Ages: this is available for any age, but it should be one family or household per vehicle, with a maximum of 8 people per vehicle
General Public Tours: Starting May 27th, open on Wednesdays – Sundays (see website for sold out dates)
*Remember that reservations are required for this drive-thru tour! This may be quite popular, so you will want to call quickly to reserve a day/time.