Hike in Bear Country

A group of five hikers carrying bear spray in Lamar Valley
Hiking in groups of three or more people significantly reduces the risk of being injured by a bear.

NPS/Neal Herbert


Respect closures

Stay out of areas that are closed for bear management.

Be alert

See the bear before you surprise it. Watch for fresh tracks, scat, and feeding sites (signs of digging, rolled rocks, torn up logs, ripped open ant hills).

Don't hike alone

Hike in groups of three or more people. 91% of the people injured by bears in Yellowstone since 1970 were hiking alone or with only one hiking partner. Only 9% of the people injured by bears were in groups of three or more people.

Don't hike at dawn, dusk, or at night

Avoid hiking at dawn, dusk, or at night: during summer, that's when grizzly bears are most active.

Make noise

When hiking, periodically yell "Hey bear!" to alert bears to your presence, especially when walking through dense vegetation/blind spots, traveling upwind, near loud streams, or on windy days. Avoid thick brush whenever possible.

Carry bear spray and know how to use it

Bear spray is proven to be highly successful at stopping aggressive behavior in bears.

Don't expect bears to see you first

In Yellowstone, bears hibernate for approximately five months each year and have only seven months of active time to obtain all of their nutritional needs. A bear that's feeding may not see you as quickly as you would think. Pay attention, and see the bear before it sees you...and before you surprise it.

Stay on maintained trails

Research in Yellowstone has shown that people are more likely to be attacked by a bear when hiking off-trail.

Avoid carcasses

Bears will guard and defend carcasses against other scavengers or humans. Dead ungulates will attract and hold many bears near the carcass site. It is risky to approach a carcass; many bears may be bedded nearby just out of sight. If you find a fresh carcass, leave the area immediately by the same route you approached. Report all carcasses to the nearest ranger station or visitor center.

Stay with your stuff

Do not leave packs or bags containing food unattended, even for a few minutes. Bears learn new food sources quickly. Allowing bears to obtain human food even once often leads to them becoming aggressive toward people when they come back looking for more. Aggressive bears threaten human safety and eventually must be removed from the park or killed.

Campers preparing dinner in the Tower Campground
Camp in Bear Country

Tips to keep bears and people safe.

Photo of a grizzly bear in a green meadow
Bear Safety

Best practices for traveling safely in bear country.

Photo of ranger deploying bear spray.
Bear Spray

Learn about this highly effective bear deterrent.

Photo of a grizzly bear and cub on a boardwalk at Old Faithful
Bear Encounter

How you react to a bear encounter depends on the circumstances.

Photo of a sign indicating a bear management area
Bear Management Areas

Restrictions to reduce encounters between humans and bears.

Photo of a person watching a grizzly bear from a vehicle
Watch Roadside Bears

Learn how to protect yourself and keep bears wild when watching them along the road.

Last updated: July 16, 2019

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PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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