15 States Where You Can Encounter Bears in Their Natural Habitat


Ever dreamed of spotting a majestic bear lumbering through the wilderness? These powerful creatures, from the playful black bear to the imposing grizzly, roam freely across many regions of the United States. For adventurous souls and wildlife enthusiasts, encountering a bear in its natural habitat is an experience to remember. If you are ready to plan your bear-watching adventure, here’s a guide to 15 states where you can witness these fascinating animals in their natural splendor!


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The wilderness is truly wild in Alaska, with over 130,000 bears calling it home. Grizzlies dominate areas like Denali and Katmai National Parks, feasting on salmon, berries, and small mammals. The vast, untamed landscapes provide a perfect sanctuary for both brown and black bears.



California’s diverse habitats, from the Sierra Nevada mountains to coastal forests, support a robust population of black bears, estimated between 25,000 to 35,000. Adventurous hikers often encounter these bears foraging for food, making wildlife sightings a common and exciting occurrence.


Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory./Wikipedia

Oregon’s dense forests and the Cascade Range are prime bear habitats, hosting around 25,000 black bears. The state’s rich ecosystems provide ample food sources like plants, small animals, and fish, ensuring a healthy bear population thrives in these picturesque landscapes.



Its 20,000 black bears, frequently seen in the Cascades and Olympic Mountains, enhance Washington’s scenic beauty. Berries, fish, and other natural food supplies keep these bears well-fed and active, making the state a bear-watching paradise.


Ken Thomas (talk · contribs)/Wikipedia

Montana’s wilderness is grizzly territory, with around 1,800 grizzlies and 15,000 black bears. Areas like Glacier National Park are renowned for bear activity, where these magnificent creatures forage for roots, berries, and small mammals in the pristine, rugged terrain.



Idaho offers a bear haven in its central and northern regions, with 30,000 black bears and 700 grizzlies. The Selkirk and Bitterroot Mountains provide ideal habitats where bears enjoy a diverse diet, contributing to the state’s vibrant wildlife.


Brocken Inaglory/Wikipedia

Wyoming, particularly around Yellowstone National Park, is a hotspot for bear activity, with 700 grizzlies and 6,000 black bears. The state’s rich ecosystem, featuring fish, insects, and plants, supports a thriving bear population, making every visit a potential bear encounter.


Daniel Mayer (Mav)/Wikipedia

Colorado’s Rockies are home to approximately 19,000 black bears, thriving on acorns, berries, and insects. The state’s national parks and forests offer numerous opportunities to spot these bears in their natural environment, making it a favorite among wildlife enthusiasts.



Utah’s Uinta and Wasatch Mountains provide refuge to about 4,000 black bears. The mountainous regions offer plentiful food sources, such as nuts, berries, and insects, ensuring the bears are well-nourished and the population remains stable.


Brady Smith/Wikipedia

The northern and eastern parts of Arizona, particularly the ponderosa pine forests and rugged canyons, are home to 3,000 black bears. These bears thrive on a diet of berries, insects, and small mammals, offering unique wildlife experiences in the desert state.


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