The 12 best grizzly and black bear photos I’ve ever taken

I love bears. Especially grizzly bears – I feel that Grizzly Bear is my spirit animal. A news report saying that 2 black bears have already been spotted near Haines Junction prompted me to pull up my wildlife photos file last night. I thought that I might be able to pick out my favourite dozen out of the 1,994 photos. Nope! I did pick out my favourite dozen bear photos, though, and have posted them below.

The photos are posted in chronological order. Click on each of them for a much larger version.

It’s probably worth noting that all of these photos were shot from a vehicle. The only 4 times that I’ve gotten close enough to a bear to get a photo while hiking, I was being charged so photography wasn’t really high on my list of priorities! Those were 3 black bears in BC (2 of them over 30 years ago – you never forget a bear charge!), and a grizzly in the Yukon. I’ve only had to use bear spray once, on the last black bear, which was in Tumbler Ridge last year.

July 15, 2006: Top of the World Highway, Yukon. I was driving a tour bus, and stayed with this young grizzly bear for almost 10 minutes. This photo was shot just after a motorhome and a truck camper had gone by at high speed – those are the sort of people who will get home and complain that they spent a month in Alaska and saw no wildlife at all.

Grizzly bear along the Top of the World Highway, Yukon
July 19, 2006: Denali National Park, Alaska. The first 3 photos in this gallery were shot on a single tour, when I was travelling with a group from New Zealand. This female was seen near Stony Hill, while heading back to the lodge on a bus tour into the park.

Blonde grizzly bear in Denali National Park, Alaska
July 19, 2006: Denali National Park, Alaska. The sow in this photo is the same one seen in the image above.

Grizzly bear sow with 2 cubs in Denali National Park, Alaska
July 15, 2008: Denali National Park, Alaska. Two years later, another grizzly near Stony Hill. This one dug into the cold earth to have a nap on a hot day.

Grizzly bear in Denali National Park, Alaska
May 24, 2009: Stewart-Cassiar Highway, BC. This was one of many black bears we saw during this 2-day drive up the Stewart-Cassiar. Our count of “big game” for the afternoon that this photo was shot was 14 black bears, 4 moose and 3 caribou. It’s the bit of vegetation in front that put this on my “favourite” list. This trip was one of my best ever for wildlife sightings – there are many photos on my 4-page photojournal from it.

Black bear along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, BC
June 17, 2011: along Tutshi Lake on the South Klondike Highway, BC. This is my cutest black bear – doesn’t he look snuggly? 🙂 This is a brown-phase black bear.

Brown-phase black bear (cinnamon bear) on the South Klondike Highway, BC
May 4, 2012: Chilkoot River, Haines, Alaska. This and a few dozen other photos of brown bears in this area were shot during a 4-day tour of what is marketed as the “Golden Circle Route”, from Whitehorse to Skagway, Haines, Haines Junction and back. Brown bears are the same species as grizzlies, but on the coast they’re browns and in the interior, grizzlies.

Brown bears fishing on the Chilkoot River, Haines, Alaska
May 19, 2012: north of Log Cabin on the South Klondike Highway, BC. This very active black bear seemed to have spring fever, and we spent a while with him on the way home from a ride on the WP&YR railway on the Victoria Day long weekend.

Black bear standing along the South Klondike Highway, BC
June 12, 2012: south of Carcross on the South Klondike Highway, BC. Wikipedia says that “The cinnamon bear (Ursus americanus cinnamomum) is both a color phase and subspecies of the American black bear…” This was shot on the way home from a 2-week trip with friends, that had begun with 4 days in Vancouver and then an Alaska cruise. After 2 weeks of getting skunked for good bear sightings, Mother Nature sent one final gift for Cathy and I, but our friends never did see any bears (but had awesome moose sightings).

Black bear with a cinnamon cub on the South Klondike Highway, BC
June 15, 2015: near Km 1603, Alaska Highway, Yukon. Most of my photos of this grizzly bear are of him eating soapberries.

Grizzly bear along the Alaska Highway, Yukon
June 1, 2016: Bow Lake, Icefields Parkway, Alberta. The next 2 photos were taken during the best experience Cathy or I have ever had with a grizzly – this bear stayed around our motorhome out in the wilderness for over 12 hours, and we finally had to leave so the dogs could go out for a pee! There’s an entire page of photos from this experience on my blog.

Grizzly bear along the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
June 1, 2016: Bow Lake, Icefields Parkway, Alberta. Even Molly got an awesome grizzly experience!

Grizzly bear along the Icefields Parkway, Alberta

Now I need to keep going through the wildlife file and see what other photos might be worth putting in another “best” gallery 🙂


The 12 best grizzly and black bear photos I’ve ever taken — 14 Comments

  1. Wonderful photos you have been lucky our last two trips we only saw a couple. of black bears

  2. love the way the cats hair is standing on end in the last photo. Still looking for my first bear photo

  3. Wonderful pictures Murray, I love the third one with the sow bear stretching her back legs…..what a sight. You are very fortunate and thanks for sharing these with us.

    • Thanks, Maureen. I spend a lot of time going through old photos so I never lose sight of just how lucky I’ve been. But to paraphrase an old quote, the harder I work, the luckier I get 🙂

  4. Wow. I do have to say, too, that the best bear sightings I’ve ever had were on a trip to the Canadian Rockies two years ago.

  5. Loved your ‘style’ in getting some of the bear pics. Good eye!

    I remember someone telling me that the brown and griz bears in Alaska were most notable for their huge differences in weight – coastal of course larding up on nutrient rich salmon and inland griz not so much…still, any bear deserves your respect and commands your attention. Some 35 years ago, coming face to face with the trophy size boar coastal brown and polar bear displays at ANC airport when deplaning for the first visit to Anchorage & Alasak… wow!!!

    • I wish that I would have had a GoPro strapped to me when the black attacked us last year – now that would have been a viral video!! 🙂

  6. I shared the pics with my wife and she reminded me of a bear adventure two falls ago in the ADK Park of NYS…after getting harassed by a black for 4 days and nights, I lost my temper and charged him after finding him just feet away from the light of our fire. But it easily can go the other way…