Bears in Yellowstone – Are they Common?

When visiting Yellowstone, it’s important to be bear aware! Bears in Yellowstone National Park are common. In fact, there are over a thousand bears in Yellowstone!

In this article, find out what type of bears (Black or Grizzly) are more common in the Park, where to see bears in Yellowstone, and how to practice bear safety.

bears in yellowstone

Are Black Bears or Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone More Common?

If you ask yourself what bears are in Yellowstone, the answer is both black bears and grizzly bears; but which is more common?

Black bears are far more common in Yellowstone than Grizzly bears. In fact, Black bears are the most common type of bear in North America. There are hundreds if not thousands of black bears in Yellowstone National Park. On the other hand, grizzly bears in Yellowstone are far less common ranging from 150-200 bears in the entire park.

It’s a good thing that grizzly bears in Yellowstone are less common because grizzly bears are always more aggressive. Black bears are more docile whereas grizzly bears are more likely to attack. The defining characteristics of a grizzly bear vs a black bear is both size (the grizzly is larger) and the hump on the back of grizzly bears. Furthermore, grizzly bears are usually brown whereas black bears have black fur!

grizzly bears in yellowstone
Grizzly bear

In summary, both types of bears are found here but you are less likely to encounter grizzly bears in Yellowstone compare to black bears.

Where to See Bears in Yellowstone

If you are looking to see bears in Yellowstone, there are a few places in the park that are best for bear sightings.

Fortunately, you can see bears in Yellowstone from the safety of your car. This is much better than stumbling across an unsuspecting bear on a remote hiking trail. The best places to see bears in Yellowstone from your car are Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley. Hayden Valley is also a great place for sighting packs of bison.

There are winding roads through both Hayden and Lamar valley with open plains where you can see wildlife in both directions. In my experience, Hayden valley is better for bison viewing while Lamar valley is better for seeing the bears of Yellowstone. This is because Lamar valley is more remote, and wildlife is more active. I suggest visiting Lamar valley near sunrise or sunset for the best opportunity to see a bear.

Bear Safety in Yellowstone

Whether you are purposefully trying to see a bear in Yellowstone or stumble upon one accidentally, here are a few bear safety tips to keep yourself safe.

Always carry bear spray and a bear horn. A bear horn will help keep bears more distant.

If the bear is already close, bear spray can be used to ward bears off up to 30 feet away.

For bears that are close, you should always try to remain calm and keep eye contact with the bear while walking backwards slowly. Also, raise your arms and begin yelling loudly so that they recognize you are human. This is a better strategy for bear safety than running from a bear as bears can reach speeds of 35mph!

In conclusion, with these bear safety tips; I hope that you have a safe and enjoyable experience when you see bears in Yellowstone!