Just about 5 miles from the Delaware Water Gap and a short drive off of highway 80 is the home of Lakota Wolf Preserve. Owned and operated by Jim Stein and Becky Mace, Lakota is home to many different species of wolves such as Tundra, Artic and British Columbian along with a few Bobcats and foxes. The history of Lakota started with original owners Dan Bacon and Jim Stein in Colorado where they raised their original wolves. Eventually Dan and Jim needed to move the wolves from Colorado and in 1997 they chose 10 acres of land that was part of Camp Tayler Campground in Clinton, NJ. Today, Becky and Jim along with some amazing volunteers can still be found caring for all the animals of Lakota from sunrise to sunset.
Lakota is open to the public but it is not an all-day preserve, Becky and Jim run 2 wolf watch tours every day (except Mondays) at 10:30am and 3:00pm. You will need to make a reservation if you plan on going on a weekday, weekends there are no reservations needed. The wolf Watch Tours are a great way to see wolves up close and learn more about what they eat, The social structure of their packs and much more. For more information about the wolf watch tour check out their website: http://www.lakotawolf.com/Educational-Wolf-Tours-Columbia-NJ.html. Lakota also does run private photo tours as well if you would like an even closer look at the animals.
My connection with Lakota started about 12 years ago with fellow Tamron employee Patty Gregitis. Patty was in search of a new location to hold a photo workshop, and she had heard about a wolf preserve in western New Jersey and wanted to check out and see if it would be a good location. Patty contacted one of the owners, Dan Bacon, to get more information about Lakota and to see if they were open to the idea of doing photo workshops. After a few lunches of blue cheese burgers (one of Dan’s favorites) Patty and Dan developed a good friendship and the idea of a workshop became reality. More than 40 workshops later, we are still going strong, so strong that Patty and I have had the honor of Jim and Becky naming one of their British Columbian wolves Tamron.
A few special things about the preserve that sets them apart from other preserves are how the wolves are cared for by Becky and Jim, you can see by the wolves’ interaction with them how well they are cared for. Secondly are the enclosures, they are not your typical 10 x 20 foot cages (like most other locations), at Lakota each pack has about 2 acres of land to run and play in. Making it the most natural setting possible for the animals.
After 40 plus workshops at Lakota Wolf Preserve and bringing more than 1000 photographers there, we are still amazed to see everyone’s reaction when they first see the wolves running down the hill to great the buses driving up. Patty and I run approximately 3 -4 workshops in the spring then 3 – 4 more in the fall, you can check out all the details about our workshops at: http://www.tamron-usa.com/special/events.html, On our workshops you will spend more than 2 hours inside the outer fence line (The closest you can possibly get to the wolves) photography the wolves. You will also get the opportunity to photograph the Bobcats and foxes as well. Lastly, because we like to support local businesses we make a stop at Brook Hollow Winery https://www.brookhollowwinery.com to look over our images we captured and of course do a little wine tasting!
Lenses Used for this article: Tamron SP150-600mm Di VC USD G2
Tamron SP70 – 200mm Di VC USD G2