Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, located six miles north of Eatonville, Washington, offers families a fun yet intimate experience. Open year round, the park’s 725 acres are home to over 200 animals, all native to the Pacific Northwest. This land once belonged to David and Connie Hellyer, who donated it 40 years ago to create a free-roaming preserve. Once inside the park, you’ll want to stop at the main entrance and purchase admission, which includes tokens for a scheduled tram tour. While waiting for our tour we walked along paved paths, stopping to see cougars, wolves, bears, and other native animals. All are in their own enclosed natural habitats, a safe distance from visitors. Finn, our toddler, enjoyed the antics of the raccoons, laughing as they jumped and climbed the dozens of conifers and deciduous trees in their enclosed space. Depending on the schedule of your tram tour, you may have time to pop into the café located near the main entrance. In a large, airy space with carved wood tables and benches, folks can order burgers, sandwiches, kid’s meals, and beverages. After lunch we joined a group gathered around one of the park’s keepers, learning about a great horned owl. The raptor was perched majestically on her leather-encased arm. Then it was time to walk to the tram station, tokens in hand, for our naturalist-guided tour aboard a roomy bus. You’ll tour inside the park’s free-roaming area on some five miles of paved lanes. These 435 acres are home to a variety of native wildlife. You’ll find, as we did, your youngsters glued to the tram’s wide windows as we passed right by herds of bison and elk, mountain goats, and even a moose. Just before we returned to the station the guide pointed out a cluster of small houses by Horseshoe Lake, where the Hellyers once lived. It’s late afternoon by the time we bundle into the car and leave Northwest Trek, our cameras filled with colorful images of this memorable day. Note: Check Northwest Trek’s website for current events, hours, admission fees, and directions. Find out more about Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. NW Trek Animal Trailside Encounter © Carrie Uffindell NW Trek Bison on Tram Tour © Carrie Uffindell NW Trek Raccoon at Play © Carrie Uffindell NW Trek Sign © Carrie Uffindell NW Trek Wandering the Paths © Carrie Uffindell About The AuthorCarrie Uffindell Carrie is a freelance travel writer and historian, born and raised at the base of another mountain, Mt Diablo in northern California. She spent most of her teen years riding her Arabian horse Desteyn on the trails of California, including Mt Diablo State Park, the Pacific Crest Trail, and Yosemite National Park. Carrie's love of mountains and forests drew her to the Pacific Northwest, where she has lived the past 16 years. Now Carrie explores the Pacific Northwest on foot with her husband Erik and young son Finn, both of whom share her love of travel and the outdoors. In addition to writing for Visit Rainier, Carrie also writes for EuropeUpClose.com about traveling in Wales with her family. She has a BA in European History and in her spare time works on a mystery novel set in medieval Wales.