A big thank you to Northwest Trek for inviting us out to try the new Wild Drive Experience at Northwest Trek. We had a blast and are excited to share our take as well as tips and tricks!
Just as I was thinking my kiddos wouldn’t get to see any wild animals other than squirrels this year, I heard the best announcement ever. The all-new Wild Drive Experience at Northwest Trek opened up this month to rave reviews. The Wild Drive Experience allows you to drive through the park and see wildlife up close on a personal, guided tour… all from the comfort of your own car.
I should mention that one of the highlights of our elementary school years is when the entire class gets to go on a field trip to Northwest Trek. Unfortunately for both of my older kids, they missed the opportunity to go with their class.
While I can’t fully replace that experience of going with their classmates, I had planned on taking them there myself so we could experience it together. Once everything shut down, I was disappointed I didn’t make it happen in time this year. But, doing the Wild Drive Experience at Northwest Trek was a great substitute. I actually think I loved it more being able to do it right inside our car!
Wild Drive Experience at Northwest Trek – Know before you go
Bring your entire family… of 8 or less. You can have up to 8 passengers per vehicle, which I love so the whole family can enjoy the tour. No pets are allowed for obvious reasons.
The price for the tour is $80 for the entire car. Depending on your family size, it makes it pretty comparable to the traditional ticket prices with the trams.
These are wild animals and you must have a buffer between you and them. Motorcycles or open top or soft door type vehicles are not allowed on the tour. Riding in back of pickup trucks or leaning out of sunroofs is also prohibited. Basic commonsense stuff.
When you buy your tickets, you will receive a PDF document that contains your receipt. Display your email directly from your mobile device or download / screen shot it before arrival as cell reception and WiFi may not be available. All the info you need for your tour will also be included in the message, so read it carefully and plan ahead.
Your Wild Drive tour will be guided. The tour guide will point out animals and flora and fauna as you come upon them in the park. Wondering how they can do this while social distancing? Each tour has a guide car leading the group and the driver will provide personal in-car audio narration. You just tune your radio to the correct station and you can hear about the park, the land, and the animals that call it home.
Social distancing, everywhere. Staff will stay 6 feet back from your vehicle and will ask for the last name or order ID number associated with the purchase. If you prefer, you may keep your car windows rolled up. When the staff member arrives, please hold your printed ticket or cell phone with the digital confirmation up to your window for the staff member to verify.
Restroom facilities are limited, but are still available. I heard limited and in my mind jumped to “unavailable”. When we got there and found out they still had their main bathroom bank open, I was so excited. I really appreciated that they had distanced between stalls and covered up air dryers for safety. Everyone coming from long distances like us will appreciate being able to have clean and safe bathrooms after the car ride there.
Bonuses of doing a Wild Drive Experience
You can eat in your car during the tour! On the trams you cannot have food or beverages, but in your car it’s your own rules. I really appreciated being able to sip a coffee during our tour after our early morning of getting to the park and the kids appreciated snacking after our long car ride. As always, there is no feeding of the animals of any kind, for very obvious reasons.
No need to shush. If you have a talkative kiddo like I do, you will appreciate not having to shush them repeatedly during the tour. Since the entire tour won’t hear their commentary, you won’t have to worry they are disrupting other guests.
Great conversation. On that same token, I also appreciated being able to talk to the kids about the animals we were passing and discuss their history in the parks and in the wild without worrying about derailing the entire tour. Since my kids want to know everything, I appreciated being able to have our own learning experience in our own vehicle that didn’t ruin the tour for others.
Creature comforts. Sure, the trams seem decent, but how could they possibly compare to the comfort of your own vehicle? We got to enjoy our heated seats in the cold morning tour and the kids got to squish together to snuggle under blankets with the windows open.
You can easily take your “real” camera. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have taken my DSLR on the tram. But, I felt comfortable taking it in my own vehicle and I’m glad I did. I got to get up close to the animals from the comfort of my car and the bonus is that I could also capture those images forever.
How to schedule your Wild Drive Experience at Northwest Trek
Are you ready to check it out for yourself? Just head to nwtrek.org/visit/prices/ and see what times and options are available for your tour. It’s easy to check dates and book your tour as well as check out other park visiting options.