• William Gray

7 of the Best Places to See Bears in North America

Updated: Feb 24

Black bears are widespread in forested areas of North America

1. Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska, USA

Some 3,500 brown bears inhabit these islands. Hiking, kayaking and camping trips are available in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Best time to go: July to September

2. Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

One of the most spectacular bear-viewing locations in the world, Brooks Falls is leaping with salmon each summer, attracting large gatherings of hungry grizzlies.

Best time to go: July to August

3. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada

Bella Coola is the gateway to this majestic mosaic of coastal mountains, river valleys and dense forests – home to healthy populations of both grizzly and black bears, as well as the white ‘spirit bears’ of Princess Royal Island. Further north, Southeast Alaska’s Admiralty Island is known by local Tlingit Indians as the ‘Fortress of the Bears.’

Best time to go: Summer, but aim for late August to September for grizzlies fishing Atnarko River.

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Grizzly bears are most often seen in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys and around the Dunraven Pass area.

Best time to go: June to September

5. Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Polar bear capital of the world, offering tundra buggy tours along the shores of Hudson Bay.

Best time to go: October to November

6. Laurentide Wildlife Reserve, Quebec, Canada

Canoe along the Pikauba River, scanning the forested shoreline for black bears.

Best time to go: June to August

7. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA

Around 1,500 black bears inhabit this protected swathe of the Appalachians. Your best chances of spotting one are in open areas like Cataloochee and Cades Cove

Best time to go: May to September


I post regular wildlife travel features, destination guides, reviews and news. Sign up below to be notified of the latest posts.
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Wildlife Wishlist was founded by zoologist, conservationist and award-winning travel writer and photographer William Gray. Sharing his passion for wildlife and recommendations for responsible travel, Will has spent around 30 years tracking down the world's best wildlife holiday experiences.