"A most tremendous-looking animal . . . "

So wrote Meriwether Lewis of a grizzly he encountered in May 1805 during the Corps of Discovery's exploration of the West.

If you've ever seen a bear in the wild, you likely remember exactly where and when you saw it. Were you excited? Nervous? Awe-struck? Maybe you felt a little of all those things.

America's national parks provide an important refuge for three species of bears. Explore this website to learn about bears, the work we do to protect them, and guidelines for staying safe around them. 

Food storage container with chains and locks

Storing food in bear country

Keep bears and yourself safe. Learn how and why to store your food and dispose of garbage properly in bear country

grizzly bear

What Should I Do if I See a Bear?

Seeing a bear in the wild is a special treat for any visitor to a national park. Learn about visitor and bear safety.

A totem pole in Sitka National Park

Bears in culture

Through history, bears have influenced cultures —from constellations to Native American place names to Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

a black bear standing in tall green grass

What do bears do when they wake up?

What happens when bears wake up? Learn about this important time of the year for you and bears.

Last updated: January 26, 2023


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