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Wyoming Wildlife Chat: When are Bears Most Active?

a large brown bear walking across a grass covered field

We all love a cuddly bear … from the safety of our own living rooms, that is.

Out in the wild? Well, that’s a different matter. Bear sightings are an awe-inspiring experience, but one you have to plan for if you hope to spot them – not to mention do so safely.

Here’s the 4-1-1 on bears, from us to you.

Are Bear Sightings Common?

Not common, per se, but you do have a reasonable chance of seeing a bear. According to Yellowstone’s park page, there were more than 40,000 bear sightings between 1980 and 2011. That’s a lot of instances, especially considering each “sighting” might be seen by dozens of people, raising your odds a bit. Also, there are almost certainly far more sightings than are reported. So, while you certainly shouldn’t plan on it, there’s definitely a chance.

In Yellowstone and Grand Teton, you may see either black or grizzly bears.

When Can You See Bears?

Want to give yourself the best chance of seeing a bear on the go? September and October are the best times. Bears are active right now, preparing for their long hibernation. Some of their most popular activities include fishing, ambling and snoozing. If you’d like to catch a black bear or grizzly on the prowl, we wish you a beary merry fall … so get out here!

However, if you’re more of a spring and summer traveler, those are great times to plan a trip as well. Just don’t shoot for winter, when they will be snug as bugs in rugs, far away from human eyes.

Where Should You Look?

Bears are most active at dawn and dusk, often around water. Popular park locations include the Lamar Valley, Gardiners Hole, Antelope Creek meadows, Dunraven Pass and Hayden Valley. Also, the meadows along East Entrance Road are also a good bet. You can also try the stretch of road between Elk Creek and Tower Falls, between Mammoth Hot Springs north to Indian Creek, or in the Bechler region.

How Do You Stay Safe?

The best way to stay safe around bears is to stick with a group, keep food inside coolers or cars, and curl into a ball if a bear attacks you. However, there have been only 43 bear attacks over the last 30 years – during which 90 million people visited the park – so there’s no need to worry.

Want to get in touch with nature’s creatures, right here in beautiful Yellowstone or Grand Teton? We invite you to find out more at Scenic Safaris, your gateway to adventure in the beautiful American West.