One of our favorite places to visit animals is a unique wildlife park located in Northern Arizona. Bearizona features North American animals in more natural environments than a typical zoo visit.
Are you looking for an up close experience with wild animals (that aren’t your kids) roaming past your vehicle? I am talking about black bears and arctic wolves walking down the road, past your own vehicle If so, then Bearizona Wildlife Park is a must stop when visiting Arizona.
Bearizona Wildlife Park
Bearizona Wildlife Park features both a drive through area and walk through area that allow visitors to see a wide variety of animals in their 160-acre wildlife park.
You start your adventure by taking a 3-mile drive through various habitats through the forest. At the end of the drive, leave your car in the Fort Bearizona parking lot and head inside to the wildlife center.
Animals in Bearizona Drive-Thru Area
The animals are kept in separate habitats that you slowly drive through. There are signs that indicate which animals are in the next enclosure.
They are even fed near the road so they naturally congregate close to your vehicle. When you want to stop and watch for awhile you just pull over to allow any following cars to pass. It’s basically a big loop that you can drive around as you want until they close.
You must stay in your vehicle the entire time you are in the drive-thru area. In order to enter the drive-thru area you must have a fully enclosed vehicle with windows that close.
For most of the drive through portion you can have your windows down but there are specific animal sections of the park where you windows must be rolled up and doors locked. The black bears and arctic wolves are two of those extra cautious sections.
Animal habitats you drive through include:
- Rocky Mountain Goat
- Pronghorn Deer
- Mule Deer
- American Burros
- Alaskan Tundra Wolves
- Arctic Wolves
- White Bison
- Brown Bison
- Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep
- Black Bear
Animals in Fort Bearizona Walk-Thru Area
The walk through portion of the park features a wide variety of American mammals, a petting zoo, impromptu animal encounters, a birds of prey show and a mine shaft setting that features nocturnal animals and creepy critters. Their animal shows feature birds trained to fly directly overhead.
Visiting Bearizona is a fun way to learn about animals via their exhibit information or you can learn about a few of the animals during education encounters hosted by a Bearizona staff expert.
Fort Bearizona mostly features smaller animals but is also home to new grizzly bear cubs: Crockett, Hanna, and Sky. There are lots of fun photo opportunities throughout the venue.
The Bearizona barnyard features chickens, goat and a turkey or two! My kids always have a great time checking out farm animals in addition to the more elusive animals
Animals exhibits in Fort Bearizona include:
- Grizzly Bears
- Red Fox
- Fennec Fox
Our Favorite Bearizona Animals
Peter loves to be scared silly, so his favorite part of Bearizona is driving through the black bear and arctic wolves sections. Beyond keeping your windows rolled up, they also require you to keep driving if these animals approach your vehicle.
I love driving through the black bear section too. Although mostly because I think the bears are adorable, usually playing, sleeping, scratching their back on a tree or just lazing about.
Quinn loved driving through the bears habitat too. Elliot loved all the little mammals like the javelina, badger, raccoon and foxes.
Where is Bearizona?
Bearizona is located in Northern Arizona, in the city of Williams. Downtown Williams, Arizona is considered the Gateway to the Grand Canyon and is located approximately 1 hour from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Adding a side visit Bearizona during your Grand Canyon National Park trip is a no brainer!
It’s also 40 minutes from Flagstaff, making this a great day trip during on a Northern Arizona adventure or Route 66 road trip. Williams is approximately 2 1/2 hours from Phoenix and 4 hours from Tucson.
While a visit to Bearizona could easily be a great day trip from Phoenix, it isn’t for us in Southern Arizona. We’ve visited several times over the years, in connection to visits to Sedona, Flagstaff or the Grand Canyon.
If you coming from out of state, you can book 1-day tours from Las Vegas or Kingman, AZ.
Dining at Bearizona
We usually snack in the car while we drive through the animal loop. This is a great way to save money or accommodate dietary restrictions while visiting Bearizona.
There are a couple of food option at Fort Bearizona including a really cool restaurant, Canyonlands. Canyonlands is themed to look like a large canyon in the Southwest. It features a 2-story patio with views of the jaguar exhibit.
The Bearizona Grille is located near the Bearizona entrance with patio seating. There is also a small selection of food carts with ice cream, drinks and snacks.
Wild Ride Bus Tour
Take a guided bus tour on a 50 passenger, open air bus. This is offered free to guests on a first come, first serve basis. We’ve never experienced this tour but it looks fun. This a great option for families that prefer tours with a knowledgable guide or don’t want to drive thru the park on their own.
How Much Does it Cost?
Visits to Bearizona aren’t cheap but we’ve been multiple times over the years and think it is well worth the splurge. Admission ranges from $20-$35 per person, and vary by date and age.
Bearizona used to offer a max cost of $100 per car and promotional pricing on Groupon but I haven’t seen either deal offered in several years. I don’t believe there are any discounts available for admission to Bearizona at this time. The do have an annual pass option available if you plan to visit often.
Bearizona Gift Shop
Like most tourist attractions, they do a great job funneling guests through a gift shop. Past the gift shop is the jaguar exhibition. There do offer a great selection of souvenirs that will fit most budgets.
It’s also worth stopping in to see the giant model train of the Grand Canyon Railway with an accurate replica for the Williams and Grand Canyon South Rim depots.
- Bring snacks to munch on while driving through the animal loop. Just be sure to keep your windows rolled up and never feed the animals
- Bearizona is open every day except Christmas. They do decorate for the holidays and combined with the likely snow, visiting during the winter months a very festive adventure.
- Save money by packing a picnic to eat inside one of the designated picnic areas within Fort Bearizona.
- They offer free stickers and temporary tattoos to kids in the gift shop.
Unique Animal Encounters in the United States
Bearizona is is the only park of its kind in the southwest. I found two other parks with similar drive-thru experiences, one in the Northwest: Yellowstone Bear World another in the Midwest: Bear Country USA.
More Northern Arizona Adventures
This post was originally published February 12, 2013