On the morning of this day, we settled into our gorgeous new campsite at Salt Creek Recreation Area in Joyce, WA. The only criticism I have of this place is that the showers are not my favorite (coin showers that you can’t control the temperature on), but otherwise, seriously, stay here if you want to see Olympic National Park! Near Port Angeles for restaurants and to catch a ferry to Victoria, B.C., Hurricane Ridge, an hour and a half from the coast, a fantastic view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and less than an hour from warmer, sunnier, civilization in Sequim, where the Olympic Game Farm is located!
We had heard from John’s brother that they had a bunch of big game animals here and that you were allowed to feed them, but we weren’t sure exactly what to expect. All I knew was that I was excited. We met up with he and his girlfriend who knew the laws of the land there.
We all went in one car and bought our tickets. The tickets were a little steep at $15/person ($13 for children), but the experience we’ll remember for a lifetime! We bought two loaves of bread at $2/each, which is what they sold as the primary food to feed the animals. I am not sure if you were allowed to feed them anything else or if this was just the easiest and safest food for people to give them. Having brought carrots and apples myself, I realized that if I had attempted to feed them those, I potentially could have gotten bit or at least covered in drool!
We weren’t allowed to leave our cars, but rolled all of the windows down. We came upon a dizzying array of animals, but first were the yaks. They only seemed mildly interested in being fed but still came close to the car and were awesome to see!
We also came upon some llamas and zebras. It was awesome to get to pet a zebra! They really are similar to horses and boy do they have big teeth! We were very ginger with them and the llamas just had a lot of character.
We also passed some emus in a separate habitat, which brought back some great memories for John after getting chased by some on a nearby farm when he was a kid. 😉
We then came upon some of the biggest bears we had ever seen, who were only behind a small fence, too, which felt crazy! They were apparently pretty old bears though and also seemed to be pretty sluggish either because the weather was a little warm or because they were so used to being fed. I almost felt a little guilty but I am sure they didn’t have a problem with being fed all the time and it was a once in a lifetime experience to be able to feed a kodiak bear! The guys were even able to toss some bread directly into the bears’ mouths, they were so close! (See it in action in our YouTube video.)
We then passed through the elk area, but they didn’t seem too hungry, either, with most of them sleepy as we drove past.
Then..the motherload…the buffalo. Where else do you know that you are allowed to feed buffalo?! You see tons of them in South Dakota and Yellowstone and the like, but you definitely don’t want to get in their personal space in these places. It’s even a legal offense to feed them, and for good reasons!
But here, it’s totally allowed and these buffalo know it! And from the safety of our vehicle and with monitoring from the staff, we felt pretty safe here. (Though we might have been nervous for our truck if we had brought it!) As soon as we rolled up, they were not shy at all and just stuck their noses right in the window looking for that food! They were obviously used to people and seemed gentle enough at least from inside the protection of the car, but man, were they persistent! Every time we stopped we practically had one in every window, sticking out their huge black tongues to try to get food – or lick our heads, whatever happened to be there! And they slobber a LOT! But we were all dying laughing at how crazy and ridiculous this was. (Again, check out our video to see what we mean. ;))
There were some beautiful breeds of deer in this area, too, that were also not shy, but much gentler than the big, oafy buffalo!
We then drove back around to see who else was hungry and just to peruse some of the other animals enclosures they had. (You can drive around as long as you want – your pass is good all day.) They had everything from arctic foxes, to wolves, to tigers and raccoons! Seriously, everything you could imagine.
Not to mention a petting zoo with goats and piggies, and a small aquarium with salmon and other large fish. I may be an adult, but I was still pretty excited about the petting zoo!
I am still not certain where all of their animals come from, but I know that at least some of them were in television shows or movies and all that you can feed are very accustomed to people. And overall, it is a super unique experience and certainly one we won’t soon forget!