Last week my kids and I made the trek out to Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park.
Located in Alto, it’s a good 20 minutes south of Grand Rapids.
But let me tell you, it’s worth the drive. Consider it a mini-day trip, or at least a good morning or afternoon out. Pack a lunch and hit the road.
Boulder Ridge is owned by Dave and Dawn Hoekstra. They’ve been raising exotic animals for 17 years, starting with white-tail deer and elk and eventually building their collection up to where it is now. Private tours and a few friendly nudges led to opening Boulder Ridge in 2011.
Dave and Dawn met Rick the Reptile Guy on one of those tours. His enthusiasm for reptiles is lovable and contagious, and he can often be found running around the park, feeding animals or showing off the reptiles.
Three things I like about Boulder Ridge:
It’s small and well-planned. It’s easy to see everything and not feel overwhelmed.
The tractor ride (free!) offers a bit of adventure and some time off your feet.
It’s very clean, not smelly at all.
Three new or special things this year:
Stephanie, an American Alligator, is pregnant and due to give birth soon. She will be the first alligator to give birth in the state of Michigan. She is 10 feet long and weighs 600 pounds.
The zebras will be having babies sometime in August.
Binturongs just arrived this week!
Three things you should know ahead of time:
If you haven’t been there before, print directions or enter the address on your smart phone. It really is pretty far out there.
There’s a nice, covered picnic area inside the park for snacks and lunches. A sandy play area and restroom is right next to it.
The entrance and exit go right through the gift shop. Be prepared.
Now for a few more fun pictures – things you definitely don’t want to miss!
A kangaroo with a baby in her pouch. Look closely for an extra set of legs…
Feeding the birds…
Making new friends…
Or saying hello – and sometimes hearing it back!
Finally, did you know you can host your child’s birthday party at the park?
You have a few options here.
For $50, reserve your own 45 minute reptile show. After the reptile show, move your party over to the picnic area and continue the festivities. Note – this does not include the price of admission.
For $170, up to 15 people can enjoy a private reptile show and 2 hours of reserved time on the reptile patio. This also includes one bird-feeding stick per child. Note – $170 includes admission for up to 15 people. Additional people are $8 each.
If your birthday is in the winter, Rick the Reptile guy will come to your house for a private reptile show. The cost is $200 and you must live within 30 minutes of Boulder Ridge.
Call for details. Advance reservations required.
All in all, I highly recommend a trip out there. It is a fun, educational experience for the whole family, much different from any other zoo I’ve been to.
Have you been to Boulder Ridge yet? What did you think?