Set on rural acres on the Panhandle hinterland of the Emerald Coast, Seacrest Wolf Preserve provides a home for several packs of gray wolves (including the Arctic subspecies) as well as an environment for people to learn about and directly engage with these gorgeous, intelligent, and highly social carnivores. The non-profit facility is dedicated to wolf conservation and awareness, and its tours are meant to educate visitors about the plight of the species in the U.S. and help combat negative preconceptions and stereotypes.
A variety of reservation-only tours are offered here, including Saturday Wolf Encounters that last several hours and often involve groups of 100-plus guests. Weekday group tours and private VIP visits are also possibilities. One of the singular aspects of Seacrest Wolf Preserve is the age limit: Kids as young as 10 years old may participate in the wolf encounters, and even younger children are welcome to join the Small Animal Adventures, which foster interactions with Seacrest’s non-wolf residents, including raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and (de-scented) skunks.
Your guide on the tour will share both general facts about wolves and fascinating insights into the preserve’s packs while you admire these grand beasts up close. Wolf ambassadors often nuzzle and lick tour-goers: an unforgettable experience, to say the least. So are the opportunities to howl with the pack.
The wolf encounters necessitate strict dress codes for the tours, with jeans or similarly durable pants (without holes) and closed-toed tennis or canvas shoes required, and tops going up to the neck recommended. Beyond prescription glasses, most personal accessories aren’t allowed into the wolf enclosures. Dangly clothing, straps, and the like are liable to be tugged on by the animals, hence the restrictions. Personal cameras or smartphones aren’t allowed in the wolf enclosures, but you can purchase disposable cameras on-site to take pictures. People who’ve made reservations for the Saturday tour can opt to have their photos taken with the wolves, which you’ll get to take home via jump drives.
Seacrest Wolf Preserve maintains a campground where guests who are taking the wolf tours can stay overnight; the Spirit Cabin accommodates up to six.
While fraternizing with beautiful and friendly gray wolves isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when imagining a getaway to Panama City Beach, it’s certainly worth considering via a visit to Seacrest Wolf Preserve: A wolf encounter or two is a nice way to mix up all the sand-and-surf fun, and you’re liable to come away with a deeper sense for these tremendous creatures and the valuable ecological role they play.
– As mentioned, the Saturday Wolf Encounter tours often involve a large number of guests, and the photo opportunity can, therefore, take a bit of time. Given that, and the fact that photos are also partly dependent on the mood of the wolves themselves, the tour may extend beyond the stated 3.5 or 4 hours. So it’s best not to visit Seacrest for one of these public tours on a tight timetable.