You Might See a Bear in Rocky Mountain National Park

Black Bear

Breath easy there are no Grizzly Bears inside the Rocky Mountain National Park, but there are Black Bears, which at times can be just as pesky. Usually invisible, these bears can hang around campsites and designated wilderness campgrounds scavenging for a quick meal. Rangers stress the importance of knowing what to do if you see a bear, but also stress the fact that it's rare to actually see one. So don't worry, odds are you'll never know they are there.

About Black Bears at Rocky Mountain National Park

No one knows the exact number of bears inside the Park, but what is known is Black Bears are not always black. In fact some appear a cinnamon or brown color and can weigh between 200 and 500 lbs. The bears, which typically patrol a designated space ranging from 10 to 250 square miles, are usually in search of a quick meal and can be found in all alpine zones of the Park.

What to do if you see a Bear

The most important thing to remember if you see a black bear is not to panic. Now I know what you're thinking: you're nuts! But it's true. Make sure to pick up any small children and raise your arms up to make yourself appear bigger. Then shout at the bear to go away. Black bears are not naturally aggressive towards humans, in fact they usually immediately run the opposite direction, so stay calm and stand your ground. One of the biggest mistakes occurs when you try to outrun the bear. Trust me, there is no way even with Michael Johnson's gold Nike running shoes you're going to beat that bear, so stay put and back away slowly if needed.

Protecting your Food from Bears

If you plan on going into the backcountry make sure to speak with a ranger first about how to properly store your food. Park regulations require a bear canister or bear bag to be hung at least 10-feet high and four-feet from the tree. Since bears are excellent climbers a poorly hung bag can mean going hungry for the duration of your trip.


Moose and Red Wing Blackbird at Sprague Lake on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to See Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spotting moose is not that difficult. They are so large it's hard to miss them grazing in the low-lying valleys and wet areas near lakes.

Aspen trees in autumn

See Aspens in Fall at Rocky Mountain National Park

Starting in late August, aspens in the highest reaches of the Park begin their annual quaking, a term to describe the aspens unique leaves changing a golden-yellow hue and how they react in wind.

Elk grazing in Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to See Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Traveling in herds across open tundra and low-lying valleys, Elk are routinely considered the main wildlife attraction.

Grosbeak bird

Birdwatching in Rocky Mountain National Park

Since Rocky Mountain National Park's creation in 1915, 280 species of birds have been spotted throughout the park and surrounding regions.

Mule Deer in Rocky Mountain National Park

Mule Deer in Rocky Mountain National Park

What do you get when Mickey Mouse is crossed with a deer? A mule deer!

Elk lounging in the mountainside in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where Can I See Wild Animals in Colorado's National Parks?

Home to thousands of elk, mule deer, marmots, bighorns, and the occasional black bear.

Watching elk in Moraine Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park

Essentials of Autumn Elk Watching in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to see elk, when to see them, where to park, and elk watching etiquette at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sunset at Lily Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lakes Inside Rocky Mountain National Park

The park is chocked-full of lakes due to the large glaciers that carved out deep canyons and cirques, while leaving teardrops behind.

Park Ranger sitting with Children in a national park

Ranger-Led Activities in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spend some time with a ranger to get more in-depth information about your beautiful surroundings.