About three hours north of Phoenix is a hidden gem for the kids of the family and the kids at heart. Bearizona is a rustic-feeling, back country experience that will get you out of the Valley of the Sun heat and enjoying a cool summer breeze with the scent of pine needles in the air.
There are two parts to this wild life encounter: a three mile long drive through park and a walking trail area with many types of wild life to observe and interact with.
The drive through encounter gives you a chance to experience larger and more dangerous wild life up close in the safety of your own (or a rented) vehicle. You will go through several different habitats and see various animals such as bears, young feisty teen-aged bears, wolves, and bison. They can be playful or sleepy, or very interested in you as well.
In some areas there are signs posted saying thing like “window’s closed and doors locked” or “hands inside the vehicle”. It can be exciting and a bit unnerving when a bear starts walking straight at your car, but there are employees everywhere and lots of safety measures in place to keep cars, guests, and animals secure and happy.
In the walking area of the park, you will see a diverse range of wild animals in beautiful and natural-looking habitats.
Playful and wresting bears wander a large, rocky enclosure that you can walk around and view from almost any angle. In cooler, shady places where the bears like to nap, there are large viewing windows where guests can possibly find themselves almost nose to nose with a bear taking a snooze.
A small petting area that is home to goats, turkeys, and chicken is a fun place to explore. In a neighboring enclose was a peacock who likes to show off his impressive set of tail feathers. My daughter was very excited when she found a mother hen nesting on an egg.
Another favorite with my kiddos was the otter feeding experience, where each child was handed a small fish and given the chance to toss it over a viewing window to the splashing, excited otters.
Chicken’s roam free around the picnic eating area, and seem unfluttered when squealing little ones chase them down and try to pet their feathers. Outside food and drink are fine, or you can purchase food at the Bearizona grill. The food they offer is pretty typical fare, with items that kids usually don’t turn their nose up at, such as hot dogs and ice cream.
A huge plus is that all of these walking trails are paved, easy to navigate, and pose no difficulty for strollers, walkers, and wheel chairs. High quality accessibility to each exhibit really enhances guest ability to enjoy the over-all experience, without compromising the sense of being immersed in nature.
One of the best park features is once you have entered, you can do the drive through portion as many times as you want. You can start off with the drive, park and enjoy lunch and other animal exhibits, then take one more loop around before leaving. It makes you feel like you’ve really gotten a good experience for your money.
Park visiting hours start at 8 a.m. with the last car being admitted at 6 p.m. Prices are $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 4 through 12, $18 for seniors age 62 and up, and children aged 3 and under are free.
Bearizona is located at the intersection of I-40 and US Hwy 64 (Historic Route 66) in Williams, AZ. – 58 miles south of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – 25 miles West of Flagstaff, AZ.
For more information, please visit www.bearizona.com.
1500 Historic Rte 66
Williams, AZ 86046
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