Did you know that the wolf is a keystone species, holding an extremely crucial and unique place in our ecosystem? Were you aware that it’s usually only the Alpha pairs in wolf packs that reproduce, and that they are typically monogamous? Or that the wolf hierarchy itself includes a Beta role and also an Omega one? And that wolves can eat 20% of their body weight in a single meal – which is kinda like scarfing back 80 quarter pounders in a single sitting?
Just a few of the interesting facts learned at our recent visit to the Northern Lights Wolf Centre, located in the stunningly picturesque Blaeberry about a 10 minute drive from Golden’s town centre. It was a family outing on a sunny Sunday afternoon – a perfect way to spend an hour or two enjoying the outdoors and learning about our Rocky Mountain wildlife. We got to see and meet the wolves, learn the history and mission of the Centre, learn about each of the wolves and how they got there, find out all about what wolves are like and the role they play in the ecosystem, and also to gain some understanding about some of the conservation and habitat issues going on today.
Hiking/walking with the wolves is another thing you can do at Northern Lights it just requires booking ahead and that everyone in the in the party be 16 or older. I’ve got this activity filed away a ‘to do’ family adventure for when my son finally hits 16. I’m thinking the winter would be a particularly amazing time to go walking with them – when the wolves’ coats are all full and fluffy and the venture includes skiing or snowshoeing amidst the beautiful snowy backcountry scenery.
A few things to know if you are thinking of going to see the wolves (yes, I do recommend it): a) it’s open seven days a week all year round and you don’t need to book ahead, as interactive programs run every half hour or so; b) they only accept cash so remember to make a quick stop at the bank machine before you head out if needed.
Wolves are not the only animal you can get up close and personal with in Golden. We’ve got our famous grizzly bear, Boo, who lives in a 20-acre refuge up at KHMR [LINK: http://www.tourismgolden.com/activities/summer/wildlife-watching]. We’ve visited Boo a number of times over the past few summers, typically when we have friends and family visiting, and it’s always been a huge hit. The kids and adults love getting to see a grizzly so close up (you almost can’t believe how big he is – and the length and sharpness of those claws, wow!), and the interpretive part is sure to be exceptionally interesting and informative. We learn and see something new each time we go.
Another recommended visit is to Golden Dog Sled Adventures to spend time with their Siberian and Alaskan huskies. Of course the sledding and mushing only happens in winter and spring, but in the summer you can do kennel tours -- you get to meet and greet the dogs and also learn about them and the sport of dogsledding.
Yes, hanging out with grey wolves, huskies and grizzly bears is a terrific way to interact with and learn about our area’s wildlife and habitat – it’s all part of what makes Golden a destination for family fun and outdoor adventures, but that isn't the only wildlife you can see here. Keep your eyes peeled. You never know what you might see on the trails or off the side of the road! Black bears, marmots, mountain sheep, deer, eagles, osprey and more – I even caught sight of a lynx a few months ago.