Tips for Hiking in Bear Country

Bears naturally are fearful of humans, which is why people are highly advised to never approach a wild bear when hiking or camping. Yellowstone Holiday offers life-saving tips for hikers in case they encounter a bear in the wilderness.

  1. If you see a bear, never run. Remain calm and quietly leave the area, trying to avoid detection. Never approach a bear.
  2. If the bear looks your way and is aware of your presence, identify yourself. Speak calmly, putting your arms at your side, moving them slowly up and down. You want the bear to register that you’re a person and not another bear or prey. Try to avoid any direct eye contact. Hopefully the bear will turn and walk away or resume whatever it was last doing.
  3. If the bear leaves, simply walk away in the opposite direction. Immediately leave the area and report the sighting to local authorities.
  4. If the bear proceeds to look directly at you, then ignores you, calmly back away while you continue to speak to the bear. Never turn your back on a bear while you can see it.
  5. If the bear approaches you, remember to stand your ground. Always remain calm and focus on observing the bear.
    1. Defensive Bears – When bears feel defensive, they believe you are a threat. Bears that feel defensive may chomp their teeth, woof, grown, snap their heads back and forth or slap the ground in front of you. This indicates that the beer is severely stressed by your presence. Many times bears that respond this way may be guarding food or their cubs. Talk to the bear calmly, making sure your voice isn’t threatening. Once the bear stops approaching you, slowly but steadily back up. If the bear begins to approach again, stop and wait until the bear stops moving before continuing to slowly retreat. If a bear tries to attack, simply play dead. Lie flat against the ground and face down, covering the head and neck with the arms and hands. If you have a backpack on, keep it on, as this may offer more protection. Be prepared that the bear may roll you over. Continue the motion and make sure you always remain with your face down. Don’t speak, move or make any noise until the bear has left. Remember, most grizzly bears simply attack when they feel threatened or in danger.
    2. Curious Bears – A predatory or curious bear can be distinguished by not making any noise. A curious bear will point its ears forward, appearing calm and non-agitated. Try to back up and do not appear aggressive. By making your body look big, yelling at the bear, making direct eye contact and even picking up a stick, this will help a curious bear back off. If being attacked by a black bear, experts now recommend people should fight back, as most black bears do not act defensively.

Bear sprays are effective for hikers and campers that are looking to help repel aggressive and approaching bears. In fact, these are rated higher  and more effective than a firearm. Bear spray simply contains capsaicin, which is derived from hot peppers. This simply irritates the bear’s nose, throat, eyes, lungs and mouth, disabling the bear temporarily. Bear spray should only be used on a bear that is aggressive, approaching or charging.


Yellowstone Holiday is located near the West entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Known as bear country, this area is located on the shores of Hebgen Lake. Additionally, they offer West Yellowstone cabin rentals and a Yellowstone RV park.


This entry was posted in Yellowstone Hiking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.