My husband recently traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona for business, so we decided to tag along. (Who wouldn’t want to escape Tucson’s 100+ degree weather to enjoy Flagstaff’s 80 degree weather!?)
One of the days there, we took a short drive to Williams, Arizona to visit Bearizona, a drive through bear park that was so much more!
Bearizona opened in 2010 and was created by the Casey brothers, whose father owns a similar type of park in South Dakota. Although the website says to plan at least 2 hours here, we spent 4.5 hours! We really enjoyed our time at Bearizona.
Take the Bus Tour First
We started our trip with a bus tour of the park. Each bus holds 50 people, and there are only four tour bus tour times–10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m and 4 p.m. We took the 10 a.m. bus.
The driver was so knowledgeable and explained the history of the park throughout the drive.
She knew all of the bears by name, and she was excellent at spotting the animals, including one black bear dozing high in a tree, and telling passengers where to look to find the animals. She also had food with her that she gave to some of the animals, providing passengers with a close up look.
The animals at Bearizona are all rescues, which I loved. I don’t really like conventional zoos because I feel bad for the animals, but at Bearizona, animals had a large space to roam (the park is 160 acres), and all of the animals are rescues. One poor bear was rescued after spending 12 years in someone’s basement in an 8 foot enclosure as an illegal pet.
Catch the Raptor Show
After the bus tour, we caught the raptor show. Once again, the guide was very knowledgeable. We watched different birds come out and soar for their food. The birds see humans as immovable objects, so they would fly very low overhead; one man had his hair ruffled by a passing bird, and one bird flew inches above my and my daughters’ heads. We loved this show!
Feed the Otters
After the raptor show, we walked over to the otter section right at feeding time. The keepers let anyone who was nearby grab a frozen fish and throw it into the water for the otters to get. This was one of my kids’ favorite parts of the visit.
Stroll the Park
We stopped for a lunch break and ate in our car. (Bearizona has picnic areas, so you’re welcome to bring your own lunch into the park, but we preferred the air conditioning of the car. There are also restaurants you can visit if you prefer.) After, we strolled through the park and viewed a variety of animals such as javelinas and wolverines, to name a few. We also visited the petting zoo where we saw goats, chickens, and turkeys, in addition to others.
Drive Through the Park Yourself
Lastly, we took our own car for a drive through the park and saw a variety of animals such as wolves and bears. We drove through right after feeding time, so the bears were all around the road. One cute bear was sitting on the road off to the side, itching his belly. We were literally just a few feet away from this bear! We also saw buffalo, donkeys, and reindeer, among others.
I’d highly recommend a trip to Williams, Arizona to visit Bearizona. There’s likely no other place where you can see wild animals in such an up close way.