Texas Living

The Four Best Drive-Through Safaris in Texas

By Peter Simek 6.10.24

For many, the dream of going on a wild African safari is a lifetime bucket list item. Luckily for Texans, we can enjoy a taste of that experience right in our backyards. Across the state, there are several animal adventure destinations where you can pack the family into the car and head out to experience wildlife up close. But not all drive-through animal excursions offer the same experience — for visitors or their animals. We round up some of the best drive-through safaris in Texas.

Photo courtesy of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a leader in animal conservation that spans over 1,800 acres and houses around 1,100 animals from 50 different species, including the African spurred tortoise, emu, sable antelope, zebra, and more. For self-guided drives, you’ll receive one cone of pellet food to hand-feed some of the animals. If you’re lucky, curious giraffes might just come over for a nibble. Keep an eye out for cheetahs, American red wolves, and Mexican gray wolves that reside in spacious fenced areas.

This drive-through safari is more than just getting up close to wild animals — conservation and research are at the heart of Fossil Rim. The not-for-profit specializes in breeding endangered species, public education, and natural land management.

Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari, Jacksonville

Cherokee Trace, located about two hours southeast of Dallas, sprawls across diverse terrains that recreate the animals’ natural habitats. The park houses more than two dozen unique species, including African crested porcupines, bison, capybaras, and kangaroos. Visitors can embark on a self-guided tour of the park, which allows for exploring at your own pace and plenty of time to observe the animals’ natural behaviors and interactions. The park emphasizes the importance of habitat conservation and the ethical treatment of their animals, including preserving several endangered species on the grounds.

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, San Antonio

Nestled in the rolling landscape just outside San Antonio, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is an award-winning sanctuary spanning 500 acres with creek beds and magnificent oak trees. Named Texas’ Best Outdoor Activity (big market) in the 2024 Texas Travel Awards, the ranch is home to over 500 animals, which visitors can admire in a variety of tour offerings — from self-guided to class field trips. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch focuses on education with informative signs that dot the landscape, offering insights into the lives, habits, and conservation status of the species you encounter, which make for both an enjoyable and enlightening excursion.

Texas Zoofari Park, Kaufman

At Texas Zoofari Park, conservation efforts extend far beyond the Texas border. Zoofari Park selects national and international wildlife and habitat projects for conservation grants in collaboration with its colleagues in Alabama, Florida, and Virginia. Visitors can drive or walk through the grounds and get up close and personal with exotic birds, giraffes, kangaroos, llamas, and more! Prefer a bit more education? Book a wagon ride where visitors will get a hands-on wildlife lesson from a knowledgeable guide.

These aren’t the only places you can admire animals in their natural habitats. Discover more with our guide to Texas wildlife spotting.

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