Road Trip #16 Photograph and View Wolves In Julian, CA

Wildlife Tour of the California Wolf Center
North American Gray Wolves, Alaskan Wolves and The Mexican Gray Wolf

wolf_standThe summer is a good time to take short day trips or weekend trips to nearby areas to get out of the heat.  One nearby location is Julian, CA.  Many of you have probably been to Julian before.  Julian is well known for their fresh apple pies, antique shops and nearby wilderness areas.  Hikers, campers, mountain bikers and shoppers flock to Julian every year to enjoy the outdoors and to taste the many flavors of a small mountain town.

There is one place that is definitely off the beaten track in Julian that most of you probably have not heard about.  It is called the California Wolf Center.  The center is a non-profit organization that is an education, research and conservation center focusing on the North American gray wolf.  They have several captive packs of wolves on site including North American Gray Wolves and Alaskan gray wolves they call the “Danali Pack.”

The California Wolf Center offers private and group tours as well as educational programs.  I had the opportunity to take a private tour back in 2005.  It was quite an experience.   On the day of our tour we followed the directions to the gate where we were told to wait for an escort.  When we arrived at the gate, we were welcomed by the manager, who guided us up a rough dirt road. The road past the gate up to the center is best traveled in an SUV or truck. In wet weather, the road to the Center may be difficult or impossible to negotiate without a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The wolf preserve has had to cancel programs when the road has been impassable. We had no trouble with the road, but you should know what to expect.

The tour started with a presentation about the North American Gray Wolf. Our guide gave us a general overview and history about wolves.  There is an interesting display of wolf skulls, as well as casts of wolf paw prints, and one of a coyote paw print. There is a large difference between the two. Large wolves have a biting pressure of over 1000 lbs. The average large dog’s biting pressure is about 700 lbs.

After the presentation we were able to go to the outdoor enclosures to view the wolves. I was surprised by the size of the first wolf that I saw.  It was standing between two trees. What a beautiful animal he was. We moved to an area by the fence where we watched the wolves as they looked us over. Wolves have a natural fear of people and the Center likes to keep it that way, so if they ever go back to a wild location they will stay away from populated areas.

While the keepers enter the wolf enclosures to clean up and to feed the wolves, they avoid contact with them. Wolves that have been socialized to humankind are more dangerous than wolves in the wild. There are no documented cases of wolves attacking people in the wild, however there are a few cases of attacks by wolves who have lost their fear of people.

In April ‘05 the female wolf gave birth to five pups. They were becoming part of the pack during the time of our original visit. One of the six month old pups was quite interested in us and let me get about 15 feet from him. There was a fence between us, I guess for his protection.

While I was there I was able to get a lot of photos of the wolves.  I had to shoot through the chain link fence, but if you get your lens to focus on the wolf vs. the fence it will blur out of the photo.

My visit to the center was a great experience.  It is interesting to see the wolves up close and to learn more about them. Photography is my hobby, so it was a great opportunity to shoot some photos of these majestic animals.  A rare opportunity!

For more photo tips and to read the full article from this day trip, please visit the original article on

Information about the California Wolf Center Tours

Private Tours:
Admission is $25 per person  Tours are available Monday through Friday by appointment. Please call us at 619-234-WOLF to make a reservation.

“Wolves of North America” Family Program:
Each Saturday at 2:00 pm and Sunday at 10:00 am.  Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors (55+), and $6 for children (12 and under).  Please call us at 619-234-WOLF to make a reservation.

“Saving El Lobo”:
On Sundays at 2:00 pm, come to the Center and learn about the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf. Advanced reservations are required. Admission is $20 per Please call us at 619-234-WOLF to make a reservation.

“Evening with El Lobo”:
On Saturdays between June 20th and August 29th at 4:30 pm, come to the Center and learn about the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf. This is a rare opportunity to view our wolves in the evening when they are most active. Admission is $20 per person Please call us at 619-234-WOLF to make a reservation.

For more information about the California Wolf Center and their tours please visit their Web site.


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2 thoughts on “Road Trip #16 Photograph and View Wolves In Julian, CA”

  1. Julian is a great place to stay and make your home base while exploring not only the local mountains but Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The park’s visitor center features local Indian artifacts, fossils that are a few million years old, info on jeeping the back-country and lots of info from the staff. My favorite area is the Fish Creek area where you can even manage a car down most of the wash. But when you get back in Julian, make sure to have a piece of their homemade apple pie. To die for!

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