State Route 20 closed at Mile Post 134, Ross Dam
After a brief closure at Newhalem due to an avalanche and unstable conditions, SR 20 has re-opened to its normal winter closure point at MP 134, Ross Dam. The highway will remain closed from Ross Dam to MP 171 (Silver Star Creek) until spring re-opening. More »
Ross Dam Haul Road Closure Continues
A short segment of the Ross Dam Haul Road between the Diablo Lake suspension bridge and the tunnel remains closed to public use due to continued recovery following a March 2010 landslide. The closure will remain in effect through 2014. More »
Notice of planned work for the Cascade River Road, fall 2014
Visitors planning to access the park via the Cascade River Road after Labor Day should be advised that the Park Service is planning a fall closure of this road at Eldorado Creek (3 miles before the end of the road) in order to perform permanent repairs. More »
Learn more about Grizzly Bear research and recovery efforts through the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project.
Grizzly bears are mammals. An adult bear can measure 3-4 feet high at the shoulder and 8 feet tall standing upright. Adults weigh between 250 and 600 pounds. The color of their coat varies from blond to reddish to dark brown. They have a prominent shoulder hump, rounded ears, and claws that measure more than 2 inches in length.
Grizzly bears are omnivores. Their diet consists mostly of vegetation -- grasses, roots, nuts, and berries. They also feast on carrion (dead things), insects, fish, and small mammals and have been known to steal kills from other predators.
There have always been grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem, however, many were killed by trappers, miners, and bounty hunters by 1860.
The estimated current population of grizzly bears within the entire North Cascades Ecosystem is a maximum of 30-50 bears. Of these, a maximum of 20-30 reside in British Columbia north of Highway 3; Canadian officials do not have an estimate for the number of bears between Highway 3 and the international border.
Many factors affect grizzly bear populations: they require a large territory or home range; there is increasingly little protected land available to them; they breed infrequently (once every 3 to 5 years); they have small litters averaging one to two cubs; they spend 2-1/2 to 4-1/2 years raising the cubs, and they are still hunted illegally by humans.
Home ranges vary from six to 2,000 square miles, depending on food availability, age, sex, and breeding status of the bear. Home ranges of related females often overlap, and a male's home range generally overlaps with those of several females.
Bears utilize the valleys as well as the ridge tops; they travel wherever they need to in order to find enough food, water, shelter, and space to survive.
During the cooler months of the year, grizzly bears go into a deep sleep, which many physiologists classify as a highly specialized hibernation. They will use an existing den or cave or will dig a new den. Bears enter their dens as early as the end of October and as late as December. They emerge from their dens between mid March and early April.
(Note: Black bears, which are relatively numerous in the North Cascades ecosystem, are relatives of grizzly bears. Black bear are generally smaller than grizzlies. They are to be respected and avoided just like the grizzly.)
Status in North Cascades ecosystem:
Grizzly bears are very rarely seen.
Did You Know?
North Cascades National Park Service Complex includes 684,000 acres near the crest of the Cascade Mountains from the Canadian border south to Lake Chelan.