How scared of grizzlies should I be in Alaska

I always think of Grizzlies when I think of Alaska. How common are they to see if I’m only staying at established campsites. Do people carry bear spray with them in their cars all the time?

I car camped in Alaska for 9 days and never saw one grizzly, this was in August of 2019. I backpacked or went on day hikes every day and slept in a rooftop tent most nights. One of the first things I did upon arrival was buy bear spray, it is a MUST! Most car rental spots will give you some and all the backcountry huts we stayed in had extra but you should always carry it. Beyond that bring a bear bell and attach it to your backpack while hiking. Chances are you won’t see one if you’re loud but best to be prepared.

Reading your advice made me laugh because we always wear a bear bell on our packs but some have told us it could be a dinner bell! Guess Alaska was not a big year for bears in 2019 because we were there for a week and did not see a single one! We also found you can rent bear spray.


Funny, I was there in 2019 and saw quite a few grizzlies! But I also just love them so much that I try to watch for them from a safe distance.

Bear bells are mostly useless and a marketing gimmick, so definitely don’t go that route.

The most important thing is to practice general bear safety.

  • Never hike alone in bear country
  • Make noise——talk with whoever you’re hiking with. If you run out of things to talk about, sing songs together.
  • If you see a bear, don’t panic! Stay still. Talk to it in a calm voice. It’ll probably sniff the air a bit, stand up to get a better look, and then just meander on its way.
  • If it decides to charge you, stand your ground. 99% of the time, the bear is just bluffing and will peel off. However, if you run or move, it’ll trigger its predator instinct to chase. NEVER RUN!
  • If somehow in a million chances you’re actually attacked, cover your neck and vital organs.

Grizzly bear attacks, let alone deaths are extremely rare. Just be sensible, learn how to use bear spray, and give them their space.

Alaska is worth the trip, and so is seeing a bear. Truly my favorite creature :slight_smile:

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Generally they are fairly “friendly” by not attacking but it does only take one to ruin your day. So bear spray and/or large firearms are advised… .454 or bigger (10mm, 0.460, 0.500, 12ga.). I had 2 bear sprays in my car but friends or guests walk off with them. I need to put one back because you end up spontaneously going on a hike without bringing one. So having one handy is a great practice. We rent them at Gwins Lodge in Cooper Landing (50 miles due south of Anchorage). I’ve been scared 2x in 9 years where the bear was aggressive. We backed off while talking to it one dark night hiking at dusk. Never saw it but it did everything to warn us… yelling, smacking trees, slapping jaws shut. It clearly had cubs which is the most dangerous of encounters. Another time one ran at me on the Russian and it veered off when faced down and yelled at. Never had to spray or fire a gun. One person was killed this year about 30 miles north. He was cutting a trail a mile from his yard and his dog provided no protection apparently. The dog came home to eat and he didn’t. They are very fast when they want to be so there would be little warning. Have the safety off the spray once you feel close to a bear. Sometimes you can smell them, skunk like, but others you can’t.

Do you know the difference between a Brown Bear and a Grizzly ?? There is a tremendous difference in their sizes and behaviors…
If attacked by either it is best to play dead…
If it is a Black Bear then you need to fight for your life…
Black Bears are not apex predators in Alaska, thus, they kill and start to feed before they may be chased away by other animals…
most Brown/Grizzly Bear attacks happen by stumbling into them, Black Bear attacks have usually been by stalking…

If tent camping… NO food or really anything with strong scents in your tent…

It always amazes me how people minimize Black Bears but are scared of growling Dogs… :roll_eyes: