Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Summer of Bears

Mama Bear protecting Cubs, Cassiar Highway

This past summer on our trip up to Alaska and back, we saw 27 bears, of which we got pictures of 26 of them.  The picture above is, by far, the best bear picture(s) we have ever taken.  When this mother stood up to the oncoming vehicle…well, the only way it could be better is if “we” were the oncoming vehicle, but we give bears more space than that whenever possible.  With so many bears, and even though all 26 have been featured in the blog as we saw them, I thought it might be nice to post a blog posting showing all 26 bears.  In doing so, I have tried to post pictures which were not posted previously.

Bear # 1 – Tetons, May 5th

Bear at Tetons near Jenny Lake
This bear was seen near Jenny Lake in the Tetons.  I had gotten out of the car, which was parked in the Jenny Lake Parking lot, as I wanted to get a picture of the river and lake.  Shortly as I walked away from the front of the car a lady says to me, “There is a bear down there…”  Sure enough, the bear was down there, and it was going to cross the small river stream, and head right for me.  I got this picture through an opening in the trees…the opening that the bear came through a short minute later.  Of course, I was not there any more as I had moved away.


 Bear # 2 – Yellowstone near Old Faithful, May 7th

Bear at Yellowstone near Old Faithful

As we pulled off the Grand Loop Road headed east at the Old Faithful exit, there is a very large grassy field off to the right before the road takes you to the left over the Grand Loop Road headed to Old Faithful.  Out in the middle of this field we see this large Grizzly Bear.  We are in the HHR, so it was easy to pull off and get pictures of this huge bear with no other cars around.  Marcia must have taken around twenty pictures, lots to choose from, and when we pulled away, it was still out there on the grass moving slowly toward the tree line.

Bear # 3 – Yellowstone Grand Junction, May 8th

Bear at Yellowstone Canyon Junction

This grizzly was digging into the dirt, probably for grubs and other bugs.  It never would let us see its face.  A small crowd had gathered alongside the road, and it was probably its way of ignoring everyone.

Bear # 4 - Yellowstone Blacktail Pond, May 9th

Bear at Yellowstone Blacktail Pond

This Grizzly was getting its fill of Buffalo.  We were driving from West Yellowstone to Lamar Valley via the upper loop.  There were twenty or more cars parked along the narrow road, lots of folks outside of their car, getting pictures of this bear.  We also got a picture of a Bald Eagle which was waiting for its chance to get some of the Buffalo too.  On our way back from the Lamar Valley, the bear was still there working on the Buffalo.  I talked to a lady who had been there all day and she said that it took about a 90 minute break from eating, laying near the carcass, but far enough away that the birds were able to get their share.

Bear # 5 - Kootenay National Park, May 15th

Bear at Kootenay National Park
 This was our first Canadian Bear which we saw in the Kootenay National Park on our way to Banff.  They have no parking signs in this area, and we were driving the motorhome with the HHR in tow, so I did not dare stop…although I slowed to a crawl.  Marcia did a good job getting this picture as I drove on.

Bear # 6 - Kootenay National Park, May 19th

Bear at Kootenay National Park

When we first drove through Kootenay National Park, we were in the motorhome, so we decided to come back and visit with the car.  As we got close to the Mt. Sinclair area on the way to Radium Hot Springs, we see this bear near the concrete barrier running along the roadway.  Found a place to turn around, and Marcia got a few picture of him as I again “crawled along” the road keeping within the spirit of the “no stopping signs” along the roadway.

Bears # 7 & # 8 – Banff and Yoho NP border, May 20th

Bear at Banff-Yoho border   Bear at Banff-Yoho border

These two bears were walking the tracks north of the Trans Canadian Highway at the border of Alberta and British Columbia, which is also near the border of where Banff National Park and Yoho National Park is located.  They were a few hundred yards away from the roadway, and this is the best pictures I got of both of them.

Bears # 9, #10 and #11 – Yoho NP, Emerald Lake, May 20th

Bear at Yoho, Emerald Lake with cubs

While visiting Emerald Lake in Yoho NP, I was looking for bears along the side of the mountains on the other side of the lake when I see this Black Bear.  I point it out to a few others who have cameras which can zoom in, and having my shots, I find Marcia and we start to leave…I give it one more look through the lens and see a baby bear come out.  We turn back and as I get more pictures, the second baby bear comes out of hiding.  Above is a picture of it coming down the slope to mama.

Bear # 12 – Jasper National Park, May 22nd

Bear at Jasper

When we drove to Jasper with motorhome towing HHR, it was snowing at the summit.  As we got close to Jasper it was a light rain, and we see this guy taking picture.  Yes, bear in there, but hard to see, look at the end of the arrow.

Bear # 13 & # 14 – Fort Nelson, May 26th

Bear at Fort Nelson     Bear at Fort Nelson

After driving 280 miles from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, taking over six hours at our slow pace, we set up camp, went out to eat dinner, and on the way back I decided we needed to do a side road to get a picture of the Muskwa River.  On the way back we spotted these two bears, about 1/4 mile apart from each other, alongside the roadway.  The one on the left was along the driver’s side so I took that picture, the one on the right was on Marcia’s side of the road, and she got it…getting a few fairly close as we gently drove by it.

Bear # 15 – North of Muncho Lake, May 27th

Bear North of Muncho Lake
This bear was a few hundred yards away from us heading for the tree line.  By the time we got up to where it was, it had vanished into the woods.  Along the Alaska Highway, there is nice buffer between the road and the tree line through much of the way.  One has to constantly be looking straight, and to the right and left for the signs of wildlife…bears are easy to see.

Bear # 16 – South of Watson Lake, May 27th

Bear South of Watson Lake This bear was also along Marcia’s side of the road, but the tree line was closer to the roadway, and this bear walked along the tree line for a good 1/10th of a mile.  As with many of our Alaska Highway sightings, we stop the motorhome, and no one else stops because there are no other cars on the road near us.  Sometimes car will come along, but many just keep on going, I guess they get used to see bears along the road.

Bear # 17 - 17 – South of Tutshi Lake, June 2nd

Bear South of Tutshi Lake

On our way back to the Alaska Highway coming out of Skagway we saw this Cinnamon Black Bear along the side of the road.  It was not there very long, and we were lucky to get a few shots before it shot off into the woods.  The Cinnamon Bear is a subspecies of the American Black Bear, native to the North West US, and Alberta, and British Columbia.

Bear # 18, # 19 and # 20 – Near Haines, July 26th

Mama Bear with Cubs at Haynes

We thought we were going to “Strike Out” seeing any bears in Alaska.  As we got close to the Haines Border Crossing, we saw these three Grizzly Bears, a mama and her two cubs, running along the Klehini River which is a typical glacier river with lots of rocks along the banks for when the river swells during the spring or heavy rains.  The width of this rocky area is at least 250 yards wide, and the bears had a long way to go to get to the safety of the trees.  I first saw the mother bear, then one cub close behind.  Suddenly the mother stops and looks back and the third cub is spotted, sniffing around.  She must have given it a growl, because it starts running, and took 20-30 seconds to catch up to momma and its sibling.  I only got three or four pictures of all three bears together, and this one is one I had not shown before.

Bear # 21, # 22 and # 23 – Cassiar Highway, July 29th

Mama Bear protecting Cubs, Cassiar Highway

This is the same set of bears as the opening picture in this blog…it by far was our most interesting, fascinating, longest sighting, and most cherished bear moment of our trip.  Driving the Cassiar Highway about 50-75 miles north of Meziadin Junction on our way to Hyder, I spot a black dot way ahead along the highway.  I slow down and quickly we see it is a bear.  We creep to under 100 yards away and stop…no traffic coming or going…and we enjoy a 15 minute encounter with what ends up being a mama bear with two cubs.  And when this blue car coming toward them, the mama bear gets up on her hind legs until the car stops.  We still had another 3-4 minutes with them before she takes them safely into the woods again.  15 minutes of our life which we will cherish forever.

Bear # 24 – Meziadin Junction, July 29th
Bear at Meziadin Junction

After our earlier encounter with the mama and two cubs, this bear alongside the road at the junction of the Cassiar Highway and the Highway to Stewart/Hyder.  It pretty much just sat there as traffic went slowly by…as the traffic going slowly by looked at it.

Bear # 25 – Near Stewart, July 29th

Bear near Stewart

This big bear was just walking along the road as we were about 4 miles out of Stewart, BC.   When we slowed to a stop, it stops and looks back at us…but for the most part it was ignoring anything that drove by.  As we drove by I tried to get an even closer shot of it, but that did not work out…and I wasn’t about to stop right next to it and roll down the window, that’s for sure.

Bear # 26 – Near Stewart, August 1st

Bear near Stewart

This was, by far, our saddest bear experience.  This little bear looked so thin, its fur was in bad shape, and we could only hope that it was going to make it through the winter.  It was located about the same location as the bear we saw on the way to Stewart/Hyder a few days earlier.  It was the last bear we saw on our trip.

I have seen bears out in the wild since I was a young child.  Camping up at Lake Tahoe or at Yosemite…seeing a bear walk through the campground was not an uncommon sight.  However, seeing this many bear during our trip to Alaska and back was surely a special treat for us.


  1. Aren't they a hoot?? I love seeing the bears, even if they DO scare me!!

    1. Until I went through all our posts and related pictures, I had no idea that we saw that many bears. Marcia was going through the post last night and she just had a smile with each picture because she vividly remembers each encounter. Of these bears she saw all but two, and she probably took half of the pictures. The bears are a big part of our memories...

  2. Replies
    1. Daily blogs do that, and I store each group of pictures in a folder with that day's date on it, so that helps a bunch.

  3. What a cool post. That cinnamon bear is especially beautiful.

    1. Thanks Barbara, it sure was a neat trip, and we never thought we would see so many bears.



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