Best Time to See Bears

Best time to see bears

Bears, with their sheer size and captivating presence, are some of the most awe-inspiring creatures to encounter in the wild. Whether it’s the massive grizzly or brown bears or the elusive black bears, witnessing these majestic animals in their natural habitat is an experience that leaves an indelible mark on any wildlife enthusiast. So, you might be wondering, “When is the best time to see bears?”

There are many different places you can see bears around the world and across the United States and Canada.  Some places feature grizzly bears, some featuring black bears, and some featuring both species.  Here is a quick glance at some of the best places to see bears in North America:

Best Places to See Bears

Before we dive into the timing, let’s talk about where you can find these magnificent creatures:

  1. Alaska: Alaska is renowned for its thriving bear population, especially the iconic grizzly bears. Katmai National Park and Preserve and Denali National Park are two of the best places to spot them. For black bears, Tongass National Forest is a hotspot.
  2. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana: Yellowstone is home to both black bears and grizzlies. The Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are known bear hangouts.
  3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee: This park boasts one of the densest black bear populations in the United States. Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove are excellent bear-watching spots.
  4. Canada (British Columbia and Yukon): Canada’s vast wilderness is prime bear country. Coastal areas like Knight Inlet and the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary are ideal for grizzly sightings.

Best Times of Year to See Bears

The timing for bear viewing can vary significantly based on the region and the bear species you’re interested in:

  1. Alaska: The best time to see grizzlies in Alaska is during the salmon runs, typically from late June to early September. Black bears are active throughout the summer.
  2. Yellowstone National Park: For grizzlies and black bears in Yellowstone, late spring through early summer is the best time. They come out of hibernation, and the search for food begins.
  3. Great Smoky Mountains: Spring and early summer, from April to July, are excellent for black bear viewing as they forage for food.
  4. Canada: Coastal grizzly viewing is best from May to October. Fall is an exceptional time as they prepare for hibernation.

Best Times of Day to See Bears

When it comes to the best times of day to see bears, it often varies between black and grizzly bears:

  • Black Bears: Black bears are more active during dawn and dusk, making early mornings and late evenings ideal for viewing. They tend to rest during the heat of the day.
  • Grizzly Bears: Grizzly bears are diurnal, which means they are most active during the day. Mid-morning to early evening offers the best opportunities for grizzly bear sightings.

What are the Best Ways to Experience Bears?

Encountering bears in the wild requires both patience and respect for these powerful creatures. Here are some ways to make the most of your bear-watching adventure:

  1. Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided bear-watching tour led by experts who know the best locations and can ensure safety.
  2. Use Binoculars and Cameras: Binoculars and telephoto lenses are your best friends for getting close-up views without disturbing the bears.
  3. Keep a Safe Distance: Always maintain a safe distance from bears. Never approach or feed them, and use zoom lenses for photography.
  4. Stay Quiet: Bears have an excellent sense of hearing. Whisper and avoid sudden movements to prevent scaring them away.

Tips for Seeing Bears

  1. Plan Ahead: Research your chosen location and season. Understand the bear behavior and food sources for that time of year.
  2. Bear Safety: Familiarize yourself with bear safety guidelines. Carry bear spray, make noise on the trail, and store food properly.
  3. Bear Etiquette: Respect the bears’ space and never get between a mother and her cubs. Observe from a distance.


Encountering bears in their natural habitat is a thrilling and humbling experience. The best time to see bears depends on your location and the species you wish to observe. Whether it’s the powerful grizzly or the resourceful black bear, planning your visit during their active seasons increases your chances of witnessing these incredible creatures in their element.

So, prepare your gear, choose the right place and time, and embark on a bear-watching adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories of the wild.

Photo Credits:
Image by Angela from Pixabay


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