Grizzly Encounters in Glacier National Park

Grizzly near the Grinnell Glacier trail, Glacier National Park; August 2008

Grizzly near the Grinnell Glacier trail, Glacier National Park; August 2008

In August of 2008 my hiking partner spotted a grizzly while we were on the Grinnell Glacier trail in Glacier National Park, just below a waterfall that cools hikers off on hot summer days.

The bear was off the trail about 50 yards away and was busy digging and overturning rocks. It wasn’t paying any attention to us. We stopped to watch and to allow time for a ranger-led hiking group behind us to catch up (safety in numbers and all that).

The bear didn’t react to our presence and never posed a threat, although a couple of impatient dads put their young sons at risk by continuing to walk down the trail towards the bear rather than wait for it to move on.

In 2004, I was hiking alone on the heavily wooded St. Mary Lake trail in Glacier. Although I was making noise, the dense forest seem to swallow my periodic shouts of, “Yo, bear!”

I rounded a bend and my heart jumped into my throat as I saw a bear scampering down the trail away from me. All I saw was its hind end and I was unable to determine if it was a grizzly or a black bear. The bear jumped off the trail about 200 feet away and disappeared into the brush.

My heart continued to pound as I moved cautiously down the trail, shouting loudly and beating the vegetation with my trekking poles. I never saw the bear again.

In 2006 I was on the Highline Trail near its junction with the Grinnell Glacier Overlook spur trail in Glacier National Park. I heard shouting above me and looked up to see a grizzly sow and her cub foraging among the rocks near the trail.

Three hikers descending from the overlook were yelling at the bears in an unsuccessful effort to move them away from the trail. Instead, the bears ambled right onto the trail and forced the hikers to retreat over a low ridge, where I lost sight of them.

After reaching the chalet I was able to spot the hikers with binoculars. They were detouring well off the trail to avoid the mother bear and her cub.

Also in 2006, I saw half a dozen grizzlies in a single day, all in the Many Glacier region of the park. These included a couple of bears grazing high above the Grinnell Glacier trail, several in the far distance on the slopes behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, and a sow and cub on the opposite shore of Fishercap Lake, where I’d gone in hopes of seeing moose.

None of these sightings were anywhere close enough to pose an immediate danger.

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Nov 19, 2011



griz alarm

by: mark i.

about 10 years ago on my annual gnp pilgrimage i was camped in rising sun. the night before ranger mike had mentioned that griz were using the game trail beneath the cliff on the edge of the camp so i was extra alert, but not really prepared for the large russling in the bushes behind me the next morning! i glanced to my right and the guy in the next site said 1 word….GRIZZLEY! i dashed to our truck and turned towards the bushes. no bear was in sight and i couldn’t resist headin down the road in hopes of seein’ the griz when he emerged. soon he presented himself and i confirmed the grizzleyness and had my closest encounter and “the griz alarm clock” story to share. happy trails!

Aug 26, 2009



Glacier in July 2009

by: Anonymous

I spent four nights in Glacier Park in July, arriving at Swift Current Motor Inn on 14 July. Hiked several areas of the park, including to Redrock Falls and about two miles beyond that point beyond on two different days. Saw several black bears, deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, but no Grizzlies. I had seen grizzlies there every year for the past four years. I talked to a ranger who told me that the unseasonably cool, rainy weather that they had there this past spring and early summer had delayed the berry crop, resulting in the grizzlies staying in the timber most of the time during daylight hours. He said that the berries (mainly huckleberries) would probably be starting to ripen around the first of August greatly increasing the chances of seeing grizzlies at that time. I’m planning my trip to Glacier for next year, arriving about two weeks later than I did this year.

Bill G

Aug 05, 2009



bear sightings

by: OrlyI’ve seen bears every time I’ve gone to Many Glacier, so I feel like it’s a guarantee when I visit it. I always have bear spray in my hand, since a charging bear gives you no time to rummage for it. I’ve also started playing music from a portable speaker since I often hike alone. I worried at first that it would annoy other hikers, but I’m finding that even on popular trails in Montana, hikers are few and far between. The ones who heard me thought it was an amusing and effective way to make noise. Although I’ve found that some bears could care less about hikers making noise, they seem not to even notice us.

Mar 06, 2009



So Many Grizzly Encounters!

by: Perry

Hi Paul,

Thanks for sharing your stories! Many Glacier definitely is one of the prime Grizzly Bear habitat locations in Glacier National Park.

Hope the hikers detouring the sow and her cub made it out okay!


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