Take a little day trip to Palmer, Alaska, and visit the award winning, Williams Reindeer Farm.
This working farm is set on 200 acres of land, is surrounded by gorgeous mountain views, and has been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska!
Located only 40 miles north of Anchorage, the reindeer farm makes a perfect day trip, and the views along the Glenn Highway (or as the locals call it, “The Glenn”), are amazing.
A Little History
The reindeer farm was founded by Tom and Gene Williams, Tom grew up on the farm in the 1950’s, which at that time was a working dairy farm. He had a dream of owning a moose farm instead, but in Alaska it was impossible to own a moose, let alone a moose farm, so his focus turned to reindeer. Since reindeer are domesticated animals, this new dream was now a possibility.
In 1987 Tom made a trip to Northern Canada, where he purchased a herd of 20 reindeer. And so it began.
Since that time the farm has had up to 300 reindeer at once, currently there are around 100 of these adorable, lovable creatures.
Tom and Gene have since passed, but since 2011 the farm has been run by their daughter Denise, along with her family.
Today there are around 100 reindeer, 2 Rocky Mountain elk, “Appa” the yak, “Dolly” the bison and “Rocky” the moose, all living on Williams Farm.
The farm is also home to several horses, that are available for scenic trail rides, up to the top of the Butte.
Events and Tours
Book a scenic trail ride up to the top of the Butte. This horseback adventure offers amazing views and a lot of fun for the whole family.
Book a one hour trail ride for $60 or a private trail ride for $90. The tours are available May through August, weather permitting.
Take a one hour guided tour of the farm, kiss “Rocky” the moose, and visit “Dolly” the bison. If you like, you can enter the pen and pet the friendly, reindeer.
The guided tour costs $11 for adults, $9 per child over 2 years and children 2 and under are free. There are discounted prices for military personnel, seniors and Alaska residents. The tour is available from May through September, weather permitting.
The Fall Festival
Enjoy the “Fall Family Fun Festival”. The Fall Festival is available to the public the first three Saturdays in October. You may buy tickets online or purchase them at the event for $12.
The Fall Festival draws a huge crowd of little kids and big adult kids, alike. The festival includes a pumpkin patch, reindeer tour, pony rides (age 12 and under), Spooky walk (haunted house for kids), tractor pull wagon rides, hay bale maze, potato launching and more.
Food and beverage vendors are available as well. Where else can you buy a Husky Burger, out of an old ambulance, while petting a reindeer and kissing a moose. Only in Alaska!
Make sure to bring cash for the food vendors.
“Christmas on the Reindeer Farm” is an event held one weekend in December and winter tours are available by appointment.
What to Wear
The farm is located at the foot of the mountains and a stone’s throw from Knik Glacier so you can expect some cold and windy weather.
Make sure to dress in layers and bring your mud boots and a raincoat. The scheduled tours include a limited supply of raincoats and boots, but you may want to bring your own. Gloves and hats are a good idea as well.
Don’t forget to stop in the gift shop for one of a kind crafts and goodies!
Rocky and Dolly
I had the pleasure of getting a pic with a reindeer and meeting Dolly and Rocky!
Dolly and Rocky are rescues, and are unable to return to the wild.
There was no petting of the moose and bison allowed this time, due to the animals being in rut. It’s mating season, don’t ya know. They were in their pens with a “guard” standing watch, to prevent unwanted encounters.
I was trying to get a picture of Rocky from a distance and the “guard” told me that I could get closer if I wanted to, “but don’t go all the way up to the fence”, he said.
I obliged, but as I stepped closer to take my picture, Rocky and I made eye contact. It wasn’t a friendly look that he was giving me, at all. He started shaking his extremely large head and stomped the ground a time or two, before walking towards the fence.
This prompted the “guard” to get up, off of the truck hood that he was sitting on, and hastily walk over toward the fence, yelling Rocky’s name.
Rocky and I had both decided that picture time was over.
No kissing Rocky today!
Visit the Farm
Williams Reindeer Farm was an amazing Alaskan experience, even though Rocky and I didn’t hit it off.
The reindeer from Williams Reindeer Farm double as “Santa’s Reindeer” at Christmastime. You can also see them participating in the “Running with the Reindeer” event in Anchorage, during the “Fur Rondy” festival, in February.
As of January 1st 2020 a waiver will be required to enter the animal pens and can be viewed on their website.
Book your tour at reindeerfarm.com
Williams Reindeer Farm is located at 5561 S. Bodenburg Loop Rd., Palmer AK. 99645