It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s the Pacific Northwest in winter – and that includes Northwest Trek. But there’s also a certain magic out here in winter: hushed silence, frosted ferns, thick bison coats.
Don’t wait until spring. Here are seven reasons to visit Northwest Trek in the most magical season of the year – winter.
1. Peace and Quiet
Feeling that cabin fever yet? Step onto our paved trails and experience nature at its most hushed. Tall, solemn trees; quiet meadows; a lake so still it reflects the mist. Come spend the day in the kind of peace that refreshes you deep inside.
2. Thick Winter Coats
We aren’t the only ones that rug up in winter! Our bison, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bears grow a thick, lush coat to protect them from the chill. You can almost feel the softness. See them in the Free-Roaming Area.
3. Heated Trams
Fresh air is bracing – but cozy warmth is welcome too, and at Northwest Trek in winter you get plenty of both! Roam around our paths to spot bears, lynx, badgers and other animals, then hop on our heated trams for a tour around the Free-Roaming Area, home to elk, bison, deer, moose and more. Look out for our adorable mountain goat kids, all fluffy with winter coats!
4. Birds, Birds, Birds
With many leaves gone from trees, bird-watching just became a whole lot easier.
“Pileated woodpeckers are much easier to see,” says staff naturalist Gabby Huffman. You can also spot tiny kinglets, varied thrushes that have migrated down from the mountain tops, and waterfowl like common mergansers – plus bald eagles sparring and red-tailed hawks hunting. And of course, you can walk the paths to see our own birds: turkey vulture, snowy owl, barn own and golden eagle.
5. Burn Off That Energy
Kids climbing the walls? Get them climbing our rope bridge instead! At Kids’ Trek, our nature-based playground, kids can run, jump, bounce and build tree-branch forts to their hearts’ delight. (While you have a well-earned hot drink nearby in the café.)
6. Bear Dens
Our bears have been busy! While our black bears Benton and Fern are in torpor, making good use of the den they built a few years ago, our grizzly cubs Huckleberry and Hawthorne have dug an enormous hole in their habitat. So far they’re not using it to den up, but it’s an impressive display of grizzly power – even though they’re only one year old!
7. Explore our Neighborhood
Northwest Trek has some amazing places just nearby that make for plenty of winter fun. Explore the majesty of Mt. Rainier, clad in snow and glaciers. Take a hike in the UW Pack forest or around Alder Lake, check out the vintage shops and cinema in Eatonville before grabbing a burger, drive up to Elbe to see historic trains, chainsaw sculptures and the Ex Nihilo metal sculpture park, or keep going to Ashford for more mountain scenery. Find more trips at visitrainier.com.