Kids’ Trek Reopens, New Grizzly Overlook, and Elk in Rut - Visit Rainier
Elk at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Kids’ Trek Reopens, New Grizzly Overlook, and Elk in Rut

Experience the Excitement of Autumn at Northwest Trek

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is welcoming the change of seasons by reopening Kids’ Trek and debuting a new way to view the grizzly bear “brothers.” Another clear sign of Autumn: elks bugling as they vie for dominance and search for a mate.

Kids’ Trek Reopens

kids playing on Kids Trek at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
9/22/2020 (Photo/Katie Cotterill) Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.
Reopening of Kids’ Trek and Halloween photoshoot.

Jump for joy! Or slide, climb or hang. Kids’ Trek, the park’s nature-inspired playground, is reopening on Friday, Sept. 25 with extra safety precautions in place to ensure both a fun and healthy experience. High-touch areas, like the stream and building sticks, will be closed for now and hand sanitizer will be available. Kids can still slide, hang like a spider in a rope net, climb down a “tree trunk” and walk a rope bridge to hide inside a giant tree stump. The jumping mat, bridges ladders, and nets will also all be open. Kids’ Trek is included with admission to the park.


New Grizzly Overlook

family pointing at Grizzly Bears while standing on the new viewpoint at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
6/26/2020 (Photo/Katie Cotterill) Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.
Guests wearing masks on Wild Walk.

A new viewing deck to see the grizzly bears also opens on Sept. 25. Bears Hawthorne and Huckleberry were orphaned in the wild (Hawthorne in Alaska and Huckleberry in Montana) and brought to Northwest Trek around the same time as young cubs. While not from the same parents, they’re known as the “brothers” at the park. Now, the public has two options to see the brothers: the lower viewing deck and a new upper viewing deck. 

“This new overlook gives the public a whole new perspective into the grizzly exhibit,” said Deputy Director Rick Dietz. “You can see the bears playing, sleeping or eating up close.”

Keepers are also finding the new deck helpful: it’s an easier way to feed the bears their meals.

Find it: the new overlook can be found between the wetlands and wolf habitats.  


Elk Rut

Elk sparring while in rut at Northwest Trek Wildlife ParkThere’s a particular sound you will hear at Northwest Trek in the Fall- the sound of an eerie, haunting whistle coming through the forest. It’s the sound of elk bugling. The rut- mating season- runs September through October. Out in the Free-Roaming Area, male elk vie for dominance through noises and the clashing of antlers before selecting their mates.

There are two ways the public can experience elk rut:

·        Wild Drive: The new Wild Drive premier tour allows you to drive your own vehicle past roaming herds of Roosevelt elk, mountain goats, bison, and more in the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area. 

·        Keeper Adventure Tour: Hop in a Jeep with one of Northwest Trek’s keepers and go off-road on a 90-minute adventure to get up close to the animals in the Free-Roaming Area.

Enhanced Safety Protocols

 Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is following all public health and safety guidelines for Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan. Face coverings are required for anyone 5 and over and hand sanitizing stations are placed throughout the park.

To read more about the wildlife park, visit:

Northwest Trek, accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is a 723-acre zoological park dedicated to conservation, education, and recreation by displaying, interpreting, and researching native Northwest wildlife and their natural habitats. The wildlife park is a facility of Metro Parks Tacoma and is located 35 miles southeast of Tacoma off State Highway 161.

Elk bugling at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park