To tour this sanctuary, you have to call ahead to make a reservation. Their website gives you all the details. We reserved a tour at 11AM on a Thursday.
This place is in the middle of the dessert, so there really isn't anything else in the area. We arrived a little early and a man opened the gates for us. We checked in, signed a release, and paid the required $25 donation per person.
The sanctuary is a family-run business and was founded by Tonya Littlewolf. Tonya was raised on a reservation by her grandfather and her spirit was with the wolf and the cougar, so she felt that her life should be dedicated to helping the wolves. Tonya was not there on the day we went on our tour. Instead, her step daughter was there to give us the tour. She instructed us to leave our purses in the car and then told us she would be right back to start the tour. We waited and waited and finally, after 15 minutes, at 11:20am, she came out and directed us towards the gates.
She opened the gate to the first wolf and told us to sit next to Holan (Hoh-Lahn) meaning "Healer" in Cherokee. Holan was very cute and friendly and pretty much let you do anything with him. As we were petting Holan, the tour guide wasn't saying anything. We thought she'd at least tell us where he was from, how old he is, etc. But NOTHING. So, we had to ask all the questions ourselves and found out that Holan is 4 years old and was born and raised at the sanctuary. He was an "oopsie baby" because they thought the parent wolves were neutered and spayed, but turned out they weren't, so Holan was born.
Next, we went to visit Shatawanada (hopefully we spelled that right). Again, the tour guide didn't say much, so we had to ask all the questions. Shatawanada is 14 years old and came from a breeder. Actually, all the wolves at this sanctuary come from breeders that breed for the movie industry. Also found out that wolves are all born with black fur and as they age, their fur changes color and eventually turn white, hence why Shatawanada's fur is white.
For the rest of the tour, we went to go see more of their wolves (they have 10 total), but couldn't go inside the gates since they weren't as friendly. They're fine with the owners, of course, but can be risky with the visitors. They recently got a puppy wolf, who was 10 months old. We thought this puppy was going to be pretty small, but we were surprised to see that it was a size of a Labrador Retriever already! He ended up at the sanctuary because the previous owners couldn't handle him! Apparently, he's very playful and hyper.
The tour lasted only 25 minutes, but on the website, it says 1 hour, so we asked if we could visit Holan again. I'm guessing it usually takes an hour for the tour, but we were the only two on the tour and the tour guide didn't want to tell us much about the place, so it didn't last as long.
The sanctuary's high seasons are in the fall and winter months. The summers get way too hot and keeps visitors away, but the great thing about visiting in the summer is that since there is no one there, you get a private tour like we did.
Interesting fact: Demi Lovato visited this sanctuary in January 2016! She posted a photo on her Instagram and the place was packed with visitors for the next 3 months.
Overall, we learned more about wolves (after we asked a billion questions) and loved that we could interact with a couple of wolves. We love animals and are happy we supported the wolf sanctuary. The owners obviously cares very deeply for their wolves, but we wish we would have had a more enthusiastic tour guide. From all the rave reviews we read online, everyone else had quite a different experience than we did, so hopefully if you decide to go, you'll get that better tour experience!
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