Bearizona

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my most favorite things I did on my trip to Arizona was to go visit a place called Bearizona. Oh my that was the best. I was excited, scared, nervous, and amazed when visiting Bearizona. Ok, I was a big fat scaredy cat for some of it.  I had never been that close to some of those animals before in my life.

Bearizona is a Drive-thru Wildlife Park.  Also an area is walk thru with a snack bar and a gift center. Bearizona’s Mission is to promote conservation through memorable and educational encounters with North American wildlife in a natural environment. The drive thru is the biggest attraction they have. The park itself is located in Williams, Arizona.  Williams, touts itself as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon and, indeed, it is the place to stay if one is going to The Canyon.

No knowing what to expect, we drove up to the parks gates, which were huge and very reminiscent of the   Jurassic park gates, enough so that we both mention it in unison. There seems to be no one about but as you pull up someone comes out to your car. There you pay and they give you a small speaker and instruct you to turn your radio to a certain frequencies.  They tell you that the rules were simple. Do not stop, stay in your vehicle and when instructed rollup your windows. The windows thing would be for the bears and the wolves. So through the Jurassic park gates and into the scary unknown/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went over some cattle guards and right into the dangerous encampment of some Dall sheep, who were munching down at a feeder. It seemed that many of the creatures were sleeping or eating. The park had placed the feeders strategically close to the well groomed but dirt road.  The sheep had no interest in us but the speaker given to us gave us some information about the Dall sheep. If was pretty nifty actually.

And we went through the park, through the wolves, which were sleeping and could care less about us. I was excited about the wolves but they were pretty anti climatic. The speaker was giving out information about each creature we encountered. TheyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA frightened me when we came to the buffalos. They had white (sacred to some native peoples) and regular buffalo, the narrative telling me how many are killed each year by them and how unpredictable they are.  YIKES.  If you have not been close to one, they are HUGE. The big male was much bigger than the car and they others were not tiny, not even tiny babies. .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I was nervous about the buffalo (American Bison actually) and then we went through the foxes, not seen, and the donkeys and the younger bears which were a little nerve wracking. It was not until we got to the Black Bear enclosure that I freaked out. We were beyond outnumbered. There were many bears there all running loose and there we were in my little car. I have a lot of respect for the intelligence and their strength. I had visions of those suckers ganging up on us. No, they didn’t, but I was scared and excited all at same time. I loved seeing the bears but felt very vulnerable.  Other the one female who lay down in the middle of the road causing us to veer around, the bears paid NO attention to us. In fact, the big male was busy with a bath and protecting his tub from the others.

After the drive through which we survived and I vow to never do again, too nerve wracking, we parked and went through the little zoo. There we watch a bird of prey show. They rehab the birds, but of course, a few were beyond rehab, so were permanent residents. The show included a rat and a skunk. So cute. The birds flew close overhead and quite magnificent from the little to the huge ones. The rest of the zoo had OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbaby bears and juvenile bears. They had some bobcat and fox, porcupine and lynx.

The whole place was clean and neat and the animals all looked busy and healthy. I got no feeling that they were ever expected to be anything but animals, other than the bred of prey show and actually they were mostly just flying and getting yummies to eat.  I highly recommend Bearizona.