Safety in Bear Country

A black bear stands in a bush
A black bear in Grand Teton National Park.

NPS Photo/C. Adams


Grand Teton National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including black and grizzly bears. Both thrive in the various ecosystems that make up Grand Teton, and can be found in all areas of the park.

Bears are wild animals. While most will try to avoid humans, they may act aggressively when placed in different situations. Many aggressive interactions between bears and humans are caused when a bear feels they, their young, or their food source is threatened.

The best way to be safe in bear country is to come prepared. Follow our resources to learn more.


Bear Identification

Black and grizzly bears live throughout Grand Teton. Color is misleading when identifying a bear: both black and grizzly bears can range from blonde to black. Being able to properly identify a bear can help you know how to handle an encounter, should you have one.

If you see a bear, please report it to the nearest visitor center or ranger station.

a bear with dark brown fur a bear with dark brown fur

Left image
A dark colored black bear.
Credit: NPS Photo/A. Falgoust

Right image
A light colored black bear.
Credit: NPS Photo/A. Falgoust


BLACK BEAR Ursus americanus

  • No distinctive shoulder hump
  • Face profile is straight from nose to tip of ears
  • Ears are tall and pointed
  • Front claws are short and curved (1"-2" long)
  • Smaller than grizzly bears: adult males average 262 lb (119 kg) and adult females average 148 lb (67 kg).
  • Habitat: forests, canyons, sub-alpine, river basins

a light colored grizzly a light colored grizzly

Left image
A light colored grizzly bear.
Credit: NPS Photo/C. Adams

Right image
A dark colored grizzly bear.
Credit: NPS Photo/C. Adams


GRIZZLY BEAR Ursus arctos horribilis

  • Distinctive shoulder hump
  • Face profile appears dished in
  • Ears are short and rounded
  • Front claws are long and less curved (2"-4" long)
  • Grow to be larger than black bears, however young bears are often smaller in size. Adult female grizzlies weigh 290–400 lb (130–180 kg), while adult males average 400–790 lb (180–360 kg).
  • Habitat: open fields, sub-alpine, river basins


Learn More

a woman sprays bear spray while a man with two kids stands behind
Bear Encounters

Learn what to do when encountering a bear, and how to use bear spray.

a black bear walks down a trail
Recreating in Bear Country

Learn about hiking, camping, and backpacking in bear country.


Discover Grand Teton

Visitors watch the sun rise on mountains.
Plan Your Visit

Learn more about Grand Teton and plan your trip here.

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Things to Do

Find things to do while in Grand Teton.

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We have an app for that

Download the NPS App before you get here! Explore Grand Teton and discover places to visit, find a bite to eat, and a place to stay.

Last updated: August 18, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 170
Moose, WY 83012


Talk to a Ranger? To speak to a Grand Teton National Park ranger call 307–739–3399 for visitor information Monday-Friday during business hours.

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