Reducing the Risk of Bear Encounters
Be alert. Watch for tracks, droppings, diggings, and other bear signs. If you see a cub, retreat immediately – you can be certain the mother is nearby.
Make noise and stay on the trail. Typically, bears avoid humans. You can make this easier for them by making noise when hiking in the backcountry – talk with your companions, sing a song, whistle.
Watch for carcasses and stay away from them. Report all dead animals found near a trail or campsite to a park employee. If you smell rotten meat, leave the area immediately. Never approach or camp near a carcass. A bear may be out of sight, guarding its food. You might detect carcasses by the presence of ravens or coyotes.
Avoid carrying odorous items. Bears are attracted by smells of food and other odorous items. Leave food like bacon, tuna, ham, and scented personal products at home. Bears have a phenomenal sense of smell and can detect odors miles away. We recommend using dry, sealed foods; they are lighter and less aromatic.
Keep a clean camp and store food items securely. For the protection of bears, park visitors and employees, it is very important that bears do not gain access to human food. Never eat or store food in your tent. Dispose of food scraps properly (pack it in, pack it out) and don't leave food, dishes, or stoves unattended.
In areas where bears are known to be active, keep your sleeping area away from your cooking and food-storage area. Store food, garbage, and other odorous items in vehicles or in bear-proof containers. If these are unavailable, hang food and other odorous items in a sturdy bag as high as possible in a tree.
Campers at Salt Creek designated campsites and the Salt/Horse Zone in The Needles must store all food, beverages, and associated containers, garbage, and all scented items in a hard-sided and IGBC-approved bear-resistant container at least 100 feet from camp. NOTICE: Beginning June 25, 2018, backpackers must also carry bear canisters in Lost Canyon, Squaw Canyon, Big Spring Canyon designated campsites, and in Lavender/Davis and Butler West Side zones. Read the superintendent's determination.