Yellowstone National Park. Even if you haven’t been there, odds are you’ve heard of it. The beautiful national park is renowned for its majestic views, geothermal hotspots, geysers (especially Old Faithful), and the beautiful colors of the hot springs. But did you know you could kick off your Yellowstone National Park visit hours before you get there? There’s a wonderful wildlife park that’s right on your way. If you’re heading up to Yellowstone along Highway 20, which is a very common route, you’ll pass by an Eastern Idaho gem that’s well worth the detour.
Just past Idaho Falls, and five miles south of Rexburg, is Yellowstone Bear World. In terms of driving, it’s not even much of a detour. It’s right off of Highway 20, sitting next to the highway and by the river. Once you cross the bridge over the Snake River, be on the lookout. Yellowstone Bear World is coming up soon. Now, you might be wondering if this wildlife park is really worth the detour. If you want to be able to see grizzly bears, timber and arctic wolves, deer, elk, and an assortment of other wildlife, all from the comfort of your car, then your answer should be a simple and resounding, “Yes!”
While Yellowstone Bear World isn’t exactly massive, it’s packed full of stuff to do. The biggest draw of the wildlife park is what makes it so unique. You drive through it. You can experience the majestic beauty of the wildlife of the park all from the comfort of your car. And they have a lot of wildlife there. From black bears and grizzly bears, to gray wolves and moose, you’re bound to have a fantastic experience as you witness these animals in virtually their natural habitat. While the park is essentially an open zoo you drive through, and the animals are all born and raised in captivity, it’s important to remember that they are wild animals. So stay in your car! You can even bring your pets, if you have them and are travelling with them; they just have to be in the vehicle with you. So no dogs in the back of the truck!
If you want to be quick, you can experience the park in a little over an hour, but I doubt you’ll be so quick. Yellowstone Bear World is an adventure. Plus, the cost of admission covers as many drives through the park as you want for the day. Didn’t get that perfect photograph? Go back through. Didn’t quite get a close enough look at that bear or wolf? Go back through. Each time will be a brand new experience and adventure. If you do tire of just driving through the park, and you want to get out of your car, Yellowstone Bear World still has a lot to offer.
You can get up close and personal with some animals, like deer, in their petting zoo. The petting zoo is included with the cost of admission, so go ahead and enjoy it! The petting zoo is wide open, and covers about an acre. It’s plenty large, and there are a lot of animals for you to see. If you get lucky, or planned in advance and purchased a ticket online, you can have the experience of a lifetime. Three times a day, the staff at Yellowstone Bear World conduct private tours. They take you behind the scenes, and you can bottle-feed and pet bear cubs. It’s a truly unique experience, and it’s definitely worth trying. They also do Curator Tours, which takes a special, standing-room only vehicle through the park. Here, you have plenty of chances to get that perfect picture of your favorite animal. And if you’re feeling brave, you can also feed a fully-grown grizzly bear.
Just when you think that’s all the fun you can have, or that you’re out of things to do, you realize that Yellowstone Bear World really does have a lot to offer. They have amusement rides, which are tailored for children, but the adults can join in on the fun as well! And the experience wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t stop in at Three Bears Gift Shop and pick up some souvenirs of your adventure.
You could easily spend the day at Yellowstone Bear World, but don’t forget, you’re still going to Yellowstone National Park. Make sure to plan for this fantastic detour, and start your Yellowstone trip off right. The bears are waiting for you.