Park Love...
What are the chances of encountering a bear while hiking at Yellowstone?
This question relates to the items listed below. Click each link for more information
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Backpacking, Bears, Trail Running, Flora & Fauna, Hiking, RVing
10 years ago
Expert Answer
2 Answers
3Helpful Answer Rating
The chances of encountering a bear anywhere are greatly reduced if you follow some basic bear safety information.  Check out the home page of for a brief video on how to stay safe in bear country.  Make your presence known by making noise and being aware of your surroundings.  In Yellowstone, you could encounter both grizzly and black bears, so be sure to know the difference (it's explained in the video).  Also, know that most bear encounters are a result of humans either having really bad luck (e.g. accidently rounding a bend and coming between a mother and her cubs) or from doing something stupid, like running away.  Bears are faster than you and, if you run, they assume you're something worth chasing.  Since there are significant differences in what to do if you accidentally encounter a grizzly vs. a black bear, please watch the video so you'll know before you go.  

In general, the odds of being attacked by a bear out on the trail are low, especially in proportion to the 4.5 million visitor that go to Yellowstone each year.  If you're lucky, you'll get to see one from a safe distance, as they're awesome to watch in their natural habitat. Remember, park regulations require that you stay 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards from all other animals.  I'd rather be safe than sorry, so I try to keep even more distance between me and anything in nature that's completely unpredictable. (A bull bison once snuck up on me when I had my back turned on a small herd at Badlands that was about 300 yards away. Everything worked out okay, as I think he was just curious, but he came within 25 yards of me and it was pretty scary!)  

One more point about the bears at Yellowstone, word about their whereabouts spreads pretty quickly, so check in with a ranger or at a visitor center before you venture out to see if there were any recent sightings.  Have fun and let everyone know about your experiences here at (maybe even post a picture of a bear if you're lucky enough to see one)!

10 years ago