• View from Sourdough Mountain Overlook  A view looking down onto Diablo Lake. Photo Credit: NPS/Michael Silverman, 2010.

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Highway 20 Will Be Closed East of the Park For Culvert Repairs On Oct 21 & 22.

    Highway 20 will be completely closed between mileposts 147 & 157 (Granite Creek to Rainy Pass) from 6 a.m. Oct. 21 to 4 p.m. Oct. 22. The Easy Pass trailhead will be inaccessible during this time. More »

  • Diablo Lake To Be Drawn Down Three Feet in Oct., Trailer-Launched Boats Affected

    Diablo Lake will be drawn down 3 vertical feet for facility repairs from October 8-17. During the drawdown, boats with trailers will not be able to launch or take boats off the water. Hand-launched vessels will still be able to launch. More »

  • Cascade River Road will be open as normal through fall/winter 2014

    Cascade River Rd. will be open in 2014 until snow conditions make it impassable to vehicles, as normal. The road closure that was planned to begin September 8 has been postponed beyond 2014 due to unforeseen circumstances. More »

Grizzly Bears

For more information on grizzly bears and grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades, please visit http://westernwildlife.org/grizzly-bear-outreach-project/.

Grizzly Bear
Ursus arctos

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.


Federal: threatened
State: endangered

Did You Know?

Cascading stream

The North Cascades are well known for the abundant waterfalls that lace the mountains. Two of the best known waterfalls are Gorge Falls between Newhalem and Diablo along State Route 20 and Rainbow Falls in the Stehekin Valley.