Kern County's best kept secret: The Wind Wolves Preserve

Anabel Munoz Image
Monday, November 30, 2015
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The Wind Wolves Preserve in Bakersfield, California.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KABC) -- If you're looking for an outdoor family adventure, you can find one about 30 miles south of Bakersfield at the Wind Wolves Preserve.

The 93,000-acre preserve is free, making it the largest non-profit preserve on the west coast.

"We provide free camping, hiking trails and outdoor education programs throughout the year," Preserve Manager Landon Peppel explained.

The Wildland Conservancy was able to restore the preserve and 12 other landscapes in California through private donations.

"I kind of think this is one of Bakersfield's best-kept secrets. I mean, very few people really know about it," George White, who frequents the preserve, said.

White discovered the secret, thanks to his wife, an elementary school teacher who scheduled a hiking field trip for her students.

"It's just peaceful, you know, you just hear the birds and you hear the creek and it's really, really nice," White said.

Like White's wife, Kim Brown is also an educator, and she's brought her students to the preserve for years.

"It's unbelievable that just 20 minutes out of town or 30 minutes at the most you can be out in the wild and see animals, a waterfall and little creeks and just experience nature," Brown said.

"We do a variety of programs for school children from K through 12," said Melissa Dabulamanzi, an outdoor educator with Wind Wolves Preserve. "One of them is about Native American lifeways, we have programs about ecology and wetland ecosystems to geology."

Although the sights and experiences stray far from a traditional classroom or a computer screen, many students who visit said they've enjoyed it.

"They don't want to leave they love it so much. They're picking up bugs, they're getting muddy, they're having fun with their friends and just being outside," Dabulamanzi said.

While visiting the preserve in Kern County, it's possible to see Tule Elk, which were reintroduced to the land and the herd grew to more than 400.

The elk are one of many species that attracts visitors.

"Really just the deer, the bobcats, it's a diverse property with a lot to see so everybody's got their own taste, we get a lot of bird watchers, nature photographers, some artists as well," Peppel said.

You can learn more about the Wind Wolves Preserve by visiting its website here.