AAA Travel Tips / Three Things: Animal Sanctuaries Offering Human Sleepovers

Three Things: Animal Sanctuaries Offering Human Sleepovers
By MeLinda Schnyder
January 21, 2022
If you’re an animal lover, here is a great idea for your next getaway or family vacation. Three nonprofit rescue organizations in the western U.S. offer human sleepovers. Book a stay and the proceeds support the care of animals in need.
Best Friends Sanctuary/MeLinda Schnyder

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Kanab, Utah
There are several ways to visit the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals: drop in at the welcome center and gift shop; take a free guided tour; sign up for a volunteer slot walking dogs or socializing kittens; or book an overnight stay. Proceeds from your overnight lodgings support the nonprofit’s efforts to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025.
A majority of the 1,600 animals living at this 3,700-acre sanctuary in southern Utah’s Kanab Canyon are dogs and cats, though there are separate areas for other animals: horses, pigs, parrots, rabbits, and a wild animal section for species ranging from birds to rodents.
Overnight guests can choose among eight cottages that accommodate up to six guests and three pets each or four cabins with room for two guests and two pets. There are also six seasonal RV sites. Lodgings book up about two years in advance, so plan accordingly. You can also check periodically for cancellations.
In November 2019, the nonprofit opened the 40-room Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile in Kanab. Located six miles from the sanctuary, the hotel caters to travelers bringing their pets or planning sleepovers with a sanctuary resident. It has a fenced dog park, dog-washing station, and more.
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Courtesy of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Opened in 1992, this 459-acre sanctuary in the Ozark Mountains offers a lifetime refuge to abandoned, abused and neglected tigers, lions, leopards, cougars and other species. Ninety to 100 animals call Turpentine Creek home, from tiger cubs that people tried to keep as pets to older lions rescued from roadside zoos.
Guided habitat tours are offered year-round; check the sanctuary’s calendar for tour options and special events. For a more immersive experience, stay overnight in one of several lodgings. The most popular option is the Siberian Suite, which sleeps up to four and has a window overlooking the habitat of tigers Tigger and Floyd. Offering views of a cat habitat, a 15-foot-high treehouse sleeps up to four and is recommended for adults and older children. About 100 yards away yet still in earshot of the animals, five lodges form an adults-only lodging circle. The self-contained tiny houses each sleep up to two and have private decks as well as access to a community deck with seating, a fire pit and a hot tub. Two Safari Tents, available March to November, sleep up to six people and have real beds, electricity and a shared bathroom. There are six RV sites, too.
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Courtesy of Saving America’s Mustangs

Mustang Monument Wild Mustang Eco-Resort

Wells, Nevada
Experience America’s Western heritage and see wild horses in their natural habitat without roughing it at this upscale eco-resort, which shares 630,000 acres with 1,000 free-roaming horses.
Businesswoman, animal welfare activist and philanthropist Madeleine Pickens started the National Wild Horse Foundation, now named Saving America’s Mustangs, in 2008, after working for several years to end the slaughtering of horses, including retired thoroughbreds. Shifting the focus of her work to wild horses, Pickens purchased land where 600 wild Mustangs lived in northeastern Nevada. Since then, the foundation has saved 1,000 wild mustangs and now operates the not-for-profit eco-resort to fund the horses’ care and to preserve America’s equine heritage.
Guests can stay in one of 10 cottages, 10 teepees or two homes, one with four bedrooms and the other with seven. Stays include food and drink prepared by Michelin-star chefs and served at the on-site dining room, on the terrace or in a tractor shed that has been revamped into an upscale saloon. Activities include wagon rides, horseback riding atop broken mustangs, archery, guided hikes, roping lessons, rock climbing and more. The eco-resort is open June through September.

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