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Touring Northwest Trek


As a nanny, I work with a lot of kids and families. Out of the literally hundreds of people I have worked for, there are only a small handful of families whom I still maintain contact with, but there is one family in particular who totally steals the show.

With seven kids in this family, there is a lot of personality in one room at any given time. They are rowdy, highly intelligent, comedic masters, and stunningly beautiful. They will probably grow up to be doctors or lawyers, start their own companies, and star in their own TV shows. They are simply brilliant and I love them all to pieces. Unfortunately, they now live in Calgary, Alberta and our time together is limited. So when Labor Day weekend rolled around I offered to host their two oldest daughters for a jam packed weekend of Seattle exploration. Between zoos, aquariums, museums, underground tours and restaurants, I don’t think we slept a wink.

The highlight of the weekend had to be our trip to Eatonville, Washington, just an hour outside of Seattle, to visit Northwest Trek. I’m not generally a fan of zoos. I know they provide a great benefit to researchers and help promote conservation education, but at the same time, I can’t help feeling saddened by the animals pacing their cages. Northwest Trek was unlike any zoo I have ever visited.

The premise of Northwest Trek is to provide a place where people can observe native animals in their natural habitats. Immediately upon stepping foot into the park it is apparent that this is not a typical zoo. The lack of flashy stands selling cotton candy or stuffed animals leave the visitor free to wander through the woods upon dirt and gravel paths. As you stroll through the forest you may slowly find yourself peaking in on the habitat of say, a mountain lion. The only animals who appear to be within “cages” are the smaller forest animals such as skunks, beavers, and badgers –but this is only to allow for easier viewing, and the cages themselves are large and natural looking.


When we first arrived we had about an hour to explore the carnivorous exhibits – which included wolves, coyotes, bears, and wild cats, before we boarded our tram to explore the remainder of the park. The girls thought it quite humorous that we were told to explore the predators on our own and then board the tram to view the hooved animals. Obviously the predators were within enclosures – but the staff made it sound as if we would be frolicking with the cuddly grizzlies before boarding the safety of the tram to observe the terrifying mountain goats.


The deer, goats, bison, and elk are all kept upon miles of sprawling forest and prairie, so the tour would allow us to get up close and personal. As we took our seats on the tram, the onboard naturalist kept a running commentary of the sights we were about to see. I was skeptical of how many animals we would actually spot, but we were literally just several minutes into our ride when a herd of elk came strolling up to the tram. The one hour tour continued just as it started, every few minutes we would proceed several hundred feet and find ourselves greeted by another critter.
As our tour ended the girls and I were ready to make a final pass through the predator exhibits before making our way home. Walking under the lush green canopy, we enjoyed the last few moments of quiet solitude and peacefulness, before heading back to the city. The next day we made a trip the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, where the flashy colors, packed exhibits, and cramped cages made my stomach knot. It was all too much to handle and I found myself wishing I was back at Northwest Trek.


Posted by Jennylynn 08:18 Archived in USA Tagged animal

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