Bear Safety Glacier National Park & Western Montana

Bear Safety

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Bear Safety

You can count on bears being unpredictable. A knowledge of bear behavior can reduce your chance of an unpleasant encounter. Make sure you stop at a visitor center or ranger station to get up-to-date information on bears and/or mountain lion activity and to find out what trails or campgrounds may be closed. Report all sightings of bears or animal carcasses to park staff. Please remember to view bears at a distance.

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Don't hike alone

Consider going along on a ranger-guided hike if you have no hiking companions. Leave your pets at home because dogs and bears are natural enemies.

Make loud noises

Bears don't like surprises and will usually move out of the way if they hear people coming. A loud shout combined with sharp clapping is effective. Shout more frequently around a noisy stream, on a blind curve, on a windy day or when near heavy brush (vegetation).

Hike During "Business" Hours

Bears tend to be more active at dawn and dusk.

Never enter a closed trail

It is closed for a good reason - usually recent bear sightings.

Observe bears only from a distance

Never approach bears for a better look or a photograph. Consider carrying pepper spray. Some backcountry hikers carry pepper spray as a possible nonlethal, nontoxic deterrent against aggressive bears. Note: there are accounts where pepper spray has not worked as well as expected. If you decide to carry pepper spray, use it wisely and only in situations where aggressive wildlife behavior justifies its use. Check at a visitor center for pepper spray regulations.

Always leave a clean camp

Store odorous items such as food, coolers, utensils and toiletries in a hard-sided vehicle or food locker. Toss garbage in bear proof garbage cans, not in your fire grate. Dump water used to rinse dishes and hands in a rest room utility sink, not on the ground. These are park regulations, not simply recommendations!

In the backcountry, never leave any odorous items unattended

Every backcountry campsite has a special cable or pole from which you can hang food and garbage. Cook and eat only in the designated food-preparation area, and hang the clothes you cooked in if they might have absorbed food odors. Camp only in the designated sites, which are situated well away from the food-hanging and cooking areas. Be sure to pack out all garbage.

If You See a Bear

All bears are dangerous. Never approach or feed any bear, even a seemingly "tame" one. Bears will fiercely defend cubs and food. If you encounter a bear at close range, stay calm and slowly leave the area by backing away. Don't run or scream; this may provoke a chase. Climbing a tree is not always an option because there may be a lack of time and trees, and bears can climb! Bear attacks are exceptionally rare. When they do occur, it's usually because the bear perceives a person as a threat. If an attack should occur, act submissive and protect yourself by rolling up on the ground with your fingers interlocked behind your neck and your knees pulled to your chest. Leaving your pack on may provide extra protection for your back and neck. When the bear no longer feels threatened, it will usually leave the area. Do not move or make noise until you are sure the bear is gone.


Bear Safety in Glacier National Park & Western Montana

Western Montana's Glacier Country

News from Glacier National Park: Currently 12.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.

Bird Woman Falls

An icon in Glacier National Park, Bird Woman Falls is a glistening 492-foot-high waterfall that cascades down the side of Mt. Oberlin. From West Glacier, travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Bird Woman Falls Overlook, located on the west side of the Continental Divide.

Trail of the Cedars

This short boardwalk trail (ADA accessible) takes visitors through an old growth cedar forest. It’s also the beginning of the Avalanche Lake Trail (just over two miles long) that leads to Avalanche Lake—one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park. Trail of the Cedars is located about five and a half miles north of Lake McDonald Lodge.

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

If your time in Glacier National Park is limited, one must-see attraction is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile long road takes travelers between St. Mary and West Glacier through the heart of the park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. There are numerous pullouts along the road, ideal for taking photographs and enjoying the scenery.

See a Glacier

As you’re traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, pull over at Jackson Glacier Overlook (located east of Logan Pass). The overlook offers the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.

Many Glacier Valley

Home to incredible mountains, active glaciers, abundant wildlife and miles of hiking trails, Many Glacier is located in the northeast section of Glacier National Park. Trails leave from this valley in numerous directions, with popular hiking destinations including Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.

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