How do you choose your next travel destination? Personally, I’m an impulsive traveler—I make the decision to visit someplace in a split second and book the trip moments after. I chose our honeymoon destination while watching an episode of Callajeros Viajeros (Spanish travel show) and booked our trip to Tromsø, Norway moments after reading an article that said it’s one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights.
This same impulsiveness lead me to convince my family to lock ourselves in a wolf enclosure. Sounds dangerous right? So how did it happen? Well…it all started a few months ago when this video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.
Chipley, Florida happens to be close to my parent’s home in Port St. Joe, Florida. I already had plans to visit Florida over the holidays…so I assumed it must have been fate! I called my parents right away and managed to convince them the VIP wolf tour would be the *perfect* Christmas present.
Six months later we showed up at Seacrest Wolf Preserve for our VIP tour. When we entered the first wolf enclosure an uneasy feeling set in. Images of terrifying wolves from movies came to my mind. Had I made a mistake bringing my family there?
What it’s like meeting wolves face to face
Wolves have intense, yellow eyes—just like in the movies. But unlike the movies, wolves aren’t scary, man-eating predators. The more time you spend with wolves the more apparent it becomes that these are curious, intelligent, and charismatic creatures. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous when the wolves first sauntered up to our group. But the second I made physical contact with them I immediately felt at ease. The wolves at Seacrest Wolf Preserve like human contact…and even enjoy a good belly rub too!
Our tour was led by two volunteers, Rick and Katie, who have known most of the wolves since their birth. Katie shared lots of interesting stories about the wolves’ family dynamic and the roles each one plays within their pack. We also got a glimpse of some of their personalities—like Echo who howls anytime someone says his name. We also learned about the plight of wolves in North America and how (sadly) they’re still vilified by the media, local law enforcement, and left unprotected by our government.
Once you meet the wolves face to face it’s hard not to fall in love with them. Not only are they beautiful animals, but they also play a fundamental role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Wolves need and deserve our protection. Learn about the different ways you can help protect wolves here.
Which tour option is right for you?
Seacrest Wolf Preserve has two tour options. These tours offer the rarest opportunity to interact with wolves in the lower 48 states, Alaska, or Canada—and probably in the world! I’d recommend the VIP tour to everyone, but cost might be the determining factor. Remember kids must be at least 10 years old to enter the wolf enclosures (but they can interact with the smaller animals at the preserve).
- Saturday Wolf Encounter Tour ($35 per person): This tour includes the opportunity to interact with the wolves in each of their habitats/enclosures. You’ll also have the chance to meet some of the smaller animals on site like skunks, foxes, and racoons. Saturday tours can have between 100-150 people. You’ll also have a photo opp with the “Brat Pack” and you can purchase 6-8 of your photos for $35 (given to you on a flash drive).
- VIP Tours ($500 for first two people and $100 for each additional person): This tour is available Monday through Friday. The preserve is closed to all other visitors so you’ll get your guide and the wolves all to yourself for two to three hours. Your guide will also take photos of your group throughout the tour using your personal camera or phone—so you’ll have lots of cool pictures from your tour. This was a very special experience for my family and I would highly recommend it.
Keep in mind there is a strict dress code when visiting the wolves. Some of them are a quite playful and especially enjoy chewing on shoelaces (consider yourself warned). Make sure to read through Seacrest’s visitor rules before your tour.
To reserve the VIP tour you’ll need to call and pay a deposit in advanced. On the day of your tour you should arrive15 minutes before your reservation. You might have to wait at the front gate for someone to drive out and escort you to the office. Once you’re finished checking in (sign some paperwork + pay the remaining tour cost) it’s time to meet the wolves!