Northwest Trek Nature Park and McMinnville OR

Our second day took us from near the Seattle airport to McMinnville Oregon, where we were staying at the historic McMenamins Hotel Oregon. Along the way, we stoppped for a few hours at the Northwest Trek Nature Park, to check out the wildlife and take some pictures. 

We were up at a reasonable time on Thursday morning, and on our way without too much delay. We had decided to make at stop at the Northwest Trek Nature Park, a wildlife center dedicated to local wildlife. We had seen it on the drive previously, and Justine had found some details on it randomly, just recently. It looked interesting so we thought we’d had a look. 

We made a short stop at the park to check out the critters. 

We made a short stop at the park to check out the critters. 

The park itself was very nice. Well set-up with a large open area for the hoof mammals to wander. They also have all the usual predator species - bears (black and grizzly, but the grizzlies were not available), cougars, lynx, bobcats, foxes, and wolves. These were in separate habitats. Smaller, but still a good size and all the critters looked reasonably happy. 

We first wandered through the predator habitats for a bit, before it was time for us to go on the scheduled tram ride. 

We saw moose, elf, woodlands caribou, big horned sheep and deer. We didn’t see any mountain goats, but they are supposed to be there. They take you on a 40 minute tram ride around the habitat, with a naturalist giving the commentary. It was really hot, so more of the animals were just hanging out in the shade. 

The primary bull caribou had an outstanding set of horns on him.

There was also an area with raccoons, otters, beavers and badgers that was well set-up to let people, view them. The place was really set-up for school groups and families, and there were a lot of the them around. It was a bit annoying, but didn’t detract too much from a good morning.

It's a tough life being a raccoon.

They also had a series of aviaries set-up to display some local birds, including some owls, turkey vultures, and eagles. The best were the pair of golden eagles that sat quite nicely for some great pics.

After our visit, we had about a 4 hour drive down to McMinnville, where we were staying for the night. The drive was fine - nothing exciting, as we’ve done it many times before. We did take a slightly different route, that took us off the highway and down some smaller back roads. It was about 5:30 by the time we got to the McMenamins Hotel Oregon.

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McMenamins is a family-owned chain of brewpubs, breweries music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs across the Pacific Northwest. They have some cool old venues, like the Old St. Francis School in Bend, that they turned into a hotel. The McMenamins Hotel Oregon originally opened in 1905 as the Hotel Elberton, and remains the tallest building in downtown McMinnville. We had come and eaten here before, and decided we wanted to stay in the old hotel this trip. One of the fun aspects of the place is that they really lean into some of the more "character" aspects of the local history. The Hotel Oregon hosts an annual UFO convention, where the location is decorated with relics of the building’s history and the town’s famous 1950 UFO sighting.

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The view of the outside of the Hotel Oregon.

Parking was a bit of an issue, but we eventually got it sorted, and our stuff up to our very interesting room. We had a nice queen room with our own bathroom (not all of them did), and we got settled in quickly. We went out and did a bit of a walk up the Main Street, but most things were already closed up. There was a little street festival going on, but it was so hot that we decided walking around was not going to work. So instead we headed up to the rooftop patio at the hotel and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the weather as it cooled off, and we were treated to a lovely sunset.