While Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park and Site 57 Safari isn’t an animal rescue, it might be hard to convince any of the hundreds of animals who call it “home” that it’s not.
Deer Tracks Junction was started as a family-owned breeding stock facility by Hilary and Kelly Powell, raising whitetail deer and elk for sale. Ultimately, selling the animals became less and less inspiring, and sharing the animals became the family’s true passion.
The Powells initially brought animals onto their 80 acres to ensure that their son, Tyler, had the experience of farm chores just like his dad had growing up. Once Kelly retired from his construction business, the animal adventure really
“People would inquire about our animals and ask for tours,” said Hilary. “Little by little, bit by bit—the idea of the park came into focus. And with blood, sweat, tears, and prayer—it became real and keeps evolving.”
The park offers two entirely different experiences. The first—the Adventure Park—can include a fully immersive experience of petting pigs, feeding camels, snuggling rabbits, and bottle-feeding baby goats. Then there’s the Safari, which opened in 2020 on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a “trail” to wander the open terrain in your own vehicle. It provides an opportunity to feed animals like alpaca and bison from your car window. You’ll also drive through the black bear paddock and get about as close as you’d dare to these magnificent creatures. The bears actually were rescues who had only ever lived on cement.
“They were so nervous at first,” remembers Hilary. “They’d never felt grass under their paws. They went from six years on cement to a really beautiful natural enclosure with a huge play structure that they can forage through. It’s so heartwarming to see them go from hesitant to happy.”
The Powells’ goal is to take that hesitation out of their visitors as well, by offering opportunities to interact with the animals and see them up close. While bear feedings aren’t on the itinerary, climbing around on structures is something visitors can also enjoy. Handmade jungle gyms designed by Kelly and built with the help of Tyler, now in his mid-20s, are another joyful adventure for those who visit.
Deer Tracks Junction is a family affair all around, with three generations all contributing to creating a one-of-a-kind experience—right up to the homemade churned ice cream served on-site in freshly made waffle cones.
It’s likely the close family ties and connections are the very reason visitors feel welcome and at home. The Powells have hosted family outings, date nights, and even wedding proposals. It’s a relationship as beautiful as those experienced between the guests and the animals themselves.
“It’s not just about the adventure of seeing and experiencing the animals,” said Hilary. “It’s such a blessing that people choose to make family memories with us. We couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of people’s lives in that way.”
Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park opens Memorial weekend and closes in September, depending on weather conditions. To find out more, visit deertracksjunction.com.
7850 14 Mile Road, NE
Cedar Springs, MI 49319