I am often asked this one question: “Where can I go see bears?” Well, here’s your answer. Listed below are all the trips I would personally recommend. I have been on them all and thoroughly enjoyed each one.
NozoMojo – Tours & Arts for Nature Conservation – Polar Bears on the Edge, Svalbard, Norway
This company’s vision is to share the beauty of nature and nature-inspired art with you. They do so in the most sustainable way possible: humility before Mother Nature, respect for the environment, non-invasive approaches and viewing of wildlife, limiting our impact and footprint, and giving back – these will all be kept in mind as a deeply integrated part of activities. You’ll need to book these tours well in advance, as they do small, intimate groups. This company knows how to take care of you and exceed your expectations!
Katmai Coastal Bear Tours – Katmai National Park, Alaska
This trip is for the serious ursophile as well as anyone seeking a unique Alaska bear experience. It is the best place to photograph grizzly bears in North America – not to mention the incredible backdrop of glaciers and mountains rising from the sea. Katmai Coastal Bear Tours is an ecologically minded, small ship cruise business, working primarily in Alaska’s remote Katmai National Park and Preserve. Meet the bears of Katmai.
Black Bear Field Study Course – Minnesota
Courses emphasize daily close-up observation of wild bears to learn their vocalizations, body language, social organization, ecology, and how people can better coexist with them. The small class size (8) maximizes individual opportunities to participate in close-up black bear research. Daily 45-minute discussions and slide presentations amplify the information learned directly from the bears. The course offers an unprecedented opportunity to safely observe bears including mothers interacting with their cubs. Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield are co-instructors.
Whistler-Blackcomb Bear Viewing Tours, British Columbia, Canada
Accompany researcher Michael Allen as he guides you on a three hour tour through the black bear habitat of Whistler Blackcomb Mountains in British Columbia. In a comfortable 4 x 4 vehicle, you will visit active bear dens, daybeds and feeding sites and perhaps witness evening play between a mother and her cubs.
Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, Minnesota
The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary near Orr, Minnesota, is a place of wonder where people can learn about black bears by observing them in their natural habitat from an elevated viewing platform. The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, in the North Woods of Minnesota, provides a unique opportunity to view and to photograph the intimate world of the normally reclusive black bear.
A must stop on any vacation through the area. The VSWS also offers black bear photo workshops. Click here for more info.
Grizzly Adventures – Knight Inlet, British Columbia, Canada
Enjoy the majesty of the snow-capped coastal mountains as you explore spectacular Knight Inlet to find grizzly bears. As the snows melt, both black and grizzly bears emerge from their hibernation dens on the mountain slopes. They make their way down to feed on the spring sedge grasses in the river lowlands. At low tide the bears also feed along the inlet beaches, eating seaweed and turning over rocks to find crabs, barnacles and mussels. During the fall, you can experience the thrill of a lifetime watching grizzly bears catch salmon on the spawning channels of a BC coastal stream. View the bears in safety from the boat, the top of a camouflaged safari van or viewing stands. Your guides are professional biologists and have the most experience with the grizzly bears in this area. As you watch the grizzlies fish, wrestle and frolic your guide will interpret their behavior. Bring lots of film. There’s lots of action.
McNeil River Game Sanctuary, Alaska
Nowhere else in the world can a person, at the peak of the season, expect to photograph a group of 40 or more wild brown bears and see up to perhaps 100 individual bears come and go. A permit system and user fees are required at McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. Permits must be won in a lottery. The application can be found on their website. If you’re lucky enough to win this one.. you’ll have the experience of a lifetime!
Ocean Light II Adventures, British Columbia, Canada
OCEAN LIGHT II ADVENTURES has been in operation for 28 years on the BC Coast. Tours include the grizzly bears of the Khutzeymateen Valley and the Spirit Bears of Princess Royal Island. The operator’s (Tom Ellison and Jenn Broom) focus has always been on the environment, priding themselves on no to low impact travel, leaving areas as they were found. They also hope that by increasing people’s awareness, they will be able to preserve our trees, fish, bears and wildlife that make BC a unique coastal habitat.
Great Bear Foundation Field Courses – Manitoba, British Columbia, Canada
Adventure combined with learning. Courses include the Polar Bears of Churchill; Spirit Bears of BC; Capturing, Drugging, Handling, Caring for Bears and Other Animals. Course are led by Dr. Charles Jonkel
For information on responsible bear watching adventure operations in B.C., see Valhalla Wilderness Society website.
“……people [need to] understand how the risks of close encounters depend on where, when and how encounters occur. Informing people about this is the purpose of the Bear Viewing Association’s books, videos, and website bear-viewing-in-alaska.info.”
This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for internships in environmental education.
Interning at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary provides a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in working with wildlife, natural resources, and environmental education.
Your experience will instill a new appreciation of and respect for black bears.
For a list of other locations, click here.