Walk with wolves at Wolf Mountain Sanctuary

Wolf Holon and human Richard Sharga sharing a special moment together at Wolf Mountain Sanctuary. | Jacquelyn Sharga

Immerse yourself into the Big Bear wolf pack.

Looking for something fun to do for the weekend? Pack your bags, grab a friend, and drive out to Lucerne Valley for a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

Just down the backside of Big Bear mountain, you’ll find a non-profit Wolf Mountain Sanctuary run by Tanya Littlewolf. Not only do you get to learn about the amazing, inspiring rehabilitation stories of rescued wolves, you can walk, pet, and take pictures with them!

11-month-old Cloud Jumper had only been at the sanctuary for only 4 months upon my arrival, after being confiscated from an unfit owner, and has gone from 35 pounds to 135 pounds, with another 3 more years still for projected growth.

Angie Colón and wolf Holon enjoying each other’s energy as Chris Sharga laughs along. | Jacquelyn Sharga

“The last thing I expected was to be french-kissed by a wolf,” said Angie Colón, Orange County resident and Wolf Mountain Sanctuary guest, after being affectionately welcomed by wolf Holon. “He started off just nuzzling my hair, the workers said he liked the smell of my hair gel, but then he made his way to my face. I think he was trying to get a taste of the blueberries I had for breakfast.”

Amy, one of the volunteers, told the guests that wolves are actually herbivores, meaning they eat meat and plants, and they happen to be very fond of fruits. Yes, especially blueberries.

During the tour, guests learn several fun wolf facts, explaining in detail the difference between hybrids and pure-bloods , along with heartbreaking stories as to how each wolf found their way into the sanctuary. It’s a very entertaining form of emotional whiplash.

The loyalty found within the sanctuary amongst the workers and the volunteers was beyond admirable. You could feel the dedication and love behind each story they shared.

“When Genesis and Prophet first came in, they were not looking good,” Amy said. “They were owned by a 13 year old girl who fed them spaghetti and kept them on 5-foot chains. To say Genesis had trust issues with women was an understatement, but after a few days of sitting in their pen with them, she finally body-slammed me and began tugging on my ponytail. It was the best feeling in the world.” 

Genesis and Prophet’s story was one that you’d never think of. Really, none of the stories that accompany these survivors are one’s that would be easy to make up.

The story that stuck with me most was the story of Waya, who is a high content wolf dog, meaning a lot of wolf and a little dog. Waya was not an easy “pet” to control, and was heavily drugged during her time in the media. She was used as a model or doll of sorts, as well as heavily neglected and abused.

Me and Waya. | Tanya Littlewolf

Her trust issues are still prevalent and something that the workers at the sanctuary help her with everyday. When she meets guests, they let her do her thing rather than try to control her. They affectionately call it “Waya’s way.” The energy she radiates is unlike anything you’ll ever know, and you should be so lucky if she approaches you looking for pets.

Wolf Mountain Sanctuary is one of the few wolf sanctuaries that offers what they define as “educational tours,” as well as the honor of being in the presence of such a majestic creature. You not only get to learn about their wolves, but you will leave with an immense amount of knowledge about all wolves.

“Who needs diamonds when you have the love of a wolf?” Littlewolf prompted. “I’ve been offered many things during my days, but nothing has ever swayed me from the pack.”

Spending the weekend in Big Bear will provide you and your party with cozy cottage vibes when walking around the village, but making the drive down the backside of the mountain to the sanctuary throws you into a whole new experience. The desert is the last place you’d think to find wolves, especially when a snowy mountain top is only 30 minutes away, but you’ll also quickly come to find out that these wolves are much better off here, with Littlewolf in charge, than any of their previous “homes.” 

Expect an experience unlike anything you have before, and act upon it soon. Littlewolf has been planning a move to Montana for a while, and a conversation with her is not an opportunity you would want to miss out on.

These wolves are given a new chance at life, and, after visiting the sanctuary, you will likely leave with a new outlook.  If you aren’t able to make the trip, at least get to know the pack online. For more information and or to register for a visit, go to Wolf Mountain Sanctuary dot org.