March 19th, 2021

Tiny Travels: Alpaca walking should probably be your next great pandemic adventure

Three miniature people figurings sit atop an alpaca stuffy.

There’s really only one real rule for walking an alpaca at Wings and a Prayer Alpacas: You walk the alpaca, the alpaca doesn’t walk you.

This is good advice for anyone so taken by the natural smile, fuzzy faces, long necks and endearing cocked heads of the South American Andes Mountain natives that they can’t live another day without checking out the farm’s new AlpacaTrek experience. That was certainly us: Family of four, one year of distance learning behind us, two parents with two jobs (and then some), and a heavy case of emerging spring fever. 

You’ve passed Wings and a Prayer Alpacas if you’ve ever taken HWY 99W south from McMinnville. Perhaps you’ve even pulled in for a few minutes to make faces at the alpacas, pet some of the Great Pyrenees Puppies, or just gazed over the field of roaming Suris, the specific breed of alpaca raised there. 

But Alpaca Walking is pretty much PEAK ALPACA. It’s likely the closest you will get to alpacas unless you own one.

Owner Barbara Coleman gave us her quick Alpaca 101 talk at the side of the main pasture next to the highway while fuzzy heads looked on. 

A quick primer: Alpacas are camelids, softer and smaller than their llama cousins. They eat pasture and grass hay and adapt to many climates easily. Suris, the kind who live at the Amity farm, are known for their silky fleece, prized among textile artists, knitters and some clothing manufacturers. They aren’t as in-your-face as llamas are known to be.

“They can be quite aloof,” said owner Barbara Coleman, our guide for the trek. “They kind of just want to do their thing out in the pasture most of the time.”

The kids, 8 and 11, both got one for themselves, a fuzzy brown named Giselle and a black female named Betty. We set out from the barn up the hill as the sun darted in and out behind the clouds. Barbara led Checkmate, a light tan Suri, while the farm dog Jack tagged along.

Two boys and a woman each walk an alpaca.

The alpacas were quiet companions, content to walk as the kids got used to leading them on harnesses. It got a little jumpy in there when Betty snagged on a blackberry branch, but mostly it is cuteness overload, kids and alpacas out in the fresh air walking in the Oregon wild. We tramped around for about half an hour before leading our fuzzy friends down the hill safely back to the barn.

It struck me, as we turned the last bend, that our kids have so little control over their lives right now, so few chances to learn about the delicate give-and-take needed to stay in the moment with other living creatures.

Or, as our elder son said: “This was one of the best days of my life.”


  • It’s a leisurely 20-30 minute walk through an Oregon oak grove behind the property
  • Cost is $25 per person and goes to support the farm and the animals
  • Children are welcome but they must be able to be firm with the alpaca as the animals can get a bit jumpy
  • Groups are welcome
  • Call ahead to schedule: 503-310-9367 or 503-263-6944
  • Be sure to stop in at the store where the family sells clothing and other alpaca products
  • Request to see sets of Pyrenees puppies who are sometimes there on site. They are likely spoken for by other pet parents already, but are sure to lift your spirits.
Illustration of writer, Emily Grosvenor

Emily Grosvenor is the creator of Tiny Travels, #mcminnvillendentist and the Editor of Oregon Home Magazine.