April 21, 2016 – I always love how when I post I’m going somewhere on Facebook, my friends start sending suggestions on things they enjoyed around that area. While I was staying at Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, I heard great things about Bearizona from several friends and since I love seeing wildlife in more natural settings instead of concrete enclosures with bars on cages, I wanted to check it out.
The Namesakes getting an overall bears’ eye view
The whole property is about 160 acres and the part that visitors can drive through to see the animals is about three miles. You have two options for the drive-through: you can catch the free bus that goes around a few times a day and leave the driving to them, or you can drive yourself around at your own pace.
I wanted the full experience, so I took the open-air Wild Ride Bus Tour around the first time. It’s always a treat for me to leave the driving to someone else and Kyle was great, providing info about the park and animals, leaving me more time to just enjoy the experience and take lots of pictures.
Some of the animals like the deer blend in so well with the surroundings, it was hard to spot them without the help from Kyle, but some are so big and in your face, they’re hard to miss, like these bison.
And the treats Kyle had enticed them to come over for a closer look. I think this guy was looking for something a bit more yummy than those pellet things that are good for them. He has that same look I get when I’m thinking, “Hey, where’s the chocolate?” 🙂
I guess this guy had been burying his face in the feeder and was coming over to see if we had anything better to offer.
Kyle told us this section is where they have the bears more confined until they learn better manners – like not tearing up the informational signs and how to play nice. I thought this guy looked like he was hanging his head in shame like Kyle was tattling on him. And don’t let the different color coats fool you – they’re both Black Bears.
Hard to see in this picture, but this guy was sticking his tongue out and either getting ready for a drink or a total dunking, I’m not sure. It was fun watching them have fun and enjoy more freedom than you usually see.
This guy was napping peacefully even in this kinda uncomfortable looking position.
In some areas the bears have these nice little coves to claim. Meet Page – she was one of the first ones to arrive at the park when it opened six years ago, and at 18 years old, she is the oldest bear here. She looks pretty mellow and content, dontcha think?
Kyle said that over half of the animals here are rescued or rehabilitated animals, meaning they came from illegal facilities with inhumane conditions. Some of the stories are really sad and made me wonder about how people can be so cruel to these magnificent creatures. One large bear, Quagmire, had been kept in an 8 x 8 pen for at least 10 years before the facility was shut down and he is now able to enjoy lots of room in a more beautiful, natural setting.
Dall and Big Horn sheep were not at all shy.
I worried about this guy until Kyle explained he was just in the process of moulting his winter coat. I thought it was neat to see things like this we normally don’t get to witness.
This encounter with the wolves was my favorite visit today. They were quite active as we stopped by and Kyle told us this was a display of dominant and submissive behavior. He also explained that these roles reverse sometimes.
I had been a little worried watching the dark one at the light one’s throat, but here it was like they were saying, “Hey, no worries – we’re just playing around.”
And then here, her saying, “Next time, buddy, I’m on top!”
I still hadn’t had enough, so I went back around in my car. Only enclosed vehicles with windows and hard tops are allowed in, so convertibles, motorcycles, etc. are not let in the self-drive-through part. However, I thought it was great that they have a free courtesy car program so you can still drive around at your own pace.
There are signs to tell you to roll up your windows when getting to the bear and wolves area. I had to grin at the doors locked warning, though. Have any of them mastered the art of opening doors?!
There are attendants in these areas to further assure your safety and all the employees I came in contact with were so friendly and obviously in love with the animals here and wanting you to have a good time enjoying them, too.
Ruthie is also a big lover of the wolves, and I told her how much I enjoyed my encounter with them. It’s really great to have the chance to see these wild animals from a safe place knowing they are being protected as well!
Next: Check out the walk-through part for cubs, bobcat, birds of prey and more.