Tucked away in a 600-acre wooded valley is Oregon’s drive-through zoo, Wildlife Safari (Safari Rd., Winston, 541/679-6761 or 800/355-4848, www.wildlifesafari.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. late Mar.–Oct., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Nov.–late Mar., summer $18 adults, $15 seniors, and $12 children ages 4–12, winter $15 adults, $12 seniors, and $9 children).
Once inside the park gates, the brightly colored birds and exotic game animals transport you to other lands, with an oddly appropriate Oregon backdrop. Be that as it may, at Wildlife Safari every possible step has been taken to re-create African and North American animal-life zones, but with natural prey kept apart from natural predators.
Similar precautions are taken with humans. People must remain inside their vehicles except in designated areas, and windows and sunroofs must be kept closed in the big-cat and bear areas.
The first loop takes you to see the tigers and cheetahs. These giant felines loll lazily about or catch catnaps in the tall grass. The next link takes you through the heart of “Africa,” where wildebeests, zebras, and other creatures scamper about freely, seemingly oblivious to the slow parade of cars. Elephants, rhinoceroses, and other African big game also make their homes here.
Soon you are in “North America.” Bears, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, moose, and buffalo are just a few of the animals that live down in the valley. Perhaps the most popular attraction is the petting zoo. When the weather is good, you can take a memorable ride on a camel or an elephant.
With 600 animals, including one of the most successful cheetah breeding programs in the country, Wildlife Safari is involved with various conservation and endangered species programs. After your “safari,” pull into the White Rhino restaurant, serving good food within view of lions, giraffes, and white rhinos.
Getting to Wildlife Safari
To get here, take Exit 119 off I-5 and follow Route 42 for 4 miles. Turn right on Lookingglass Road and right again on Safari Road.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel