Where to Go Bear Watching in Canada

Grizzly mother with her cubs
Grizzly mother with her cubs | © Philippe Henry / Flickr

You can find different species of bears across Canada, from the forests of Quebec and New Brunswick in the east to southern Manitoba and Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. But British Columbia in the far west is by far the best place to see them. Note that guided bear-watching trips are the best way to make sure that you have a safe and informative experience observing these mighty mammals in their natural habitats. Here are some of the best locations to go bear watching in Canada.

Great Bear Rainforest

Great Bear Rainforest
© NatureMomentsUK / Shutterstock

There are an estimated 15,000 grizzlies in the province of British Columbia, and many of them can be spotted during a visit to the Great Bear Rainforest. You can plan a day trip or guided tour, or you can stay at a bear lodge located deep within the woods. This option allows you to head out every day to catch sight of grizzly, black, or even mysterious Kermode (Spirit) bears up-close in their natural environment.

Great Bear Rainforest, Kitimat-Stikine C (Part 2), BC, Canada

Kermode (or Spirit) Bears in British Columbia | © Maximilian Helm / Flickr

Vancouver Island

Particularly in spring, when bears emerge from their winter-long hibernation in search of food along riverbanks and other low-lying areas, taking a boat tour around Vancouver Island is a great way to spot black bears.

Grizzly cub | © Charles Sharp / Flickr

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast


Bear watching in the diverse landscapes of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast can range from horseback excursions to searching for white Kermode (Spirit) bears in misty fjords via coastal boat-based tours. Giant grizzlies can be glimpsed fishing for salmon in rivers near Bella Coola or Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. You can also head into the Cariboo or Chilcotin mountains to look for grizzlies and even explore their dens.

A black bear cub | © miguelb / Flickr

Northern British Columbia

Spirit Bear, British Columbia https://www.flickr.com/photos/130995712@N05/16219358947/in/photolist-qHfskM-q3EZqf-S7S62Z-qZAAjG-q3EW21-kDCVp-kDFoC-kDwWx-kDAYo-kDADW-kDGtY-qHfszV-hER2M-qH6z4A-q3EYnU-hER2X-qH6CCE-7FZ1U6-j8fH7-kDFGx-jjgEgS-kDAnM-kDF7Q-kDzH3-qH7KwE-kDweP-qH7KbQ-qH7Ruw-kDG3M-hEiux-b1QZgn-kDDiL-hER2N-kDAa9-qH7Me7-hWT7G-kDCEz-8adKW3-hJFy1-kDyUX-kDwEb-kDxAt-kDyoj-kDEux-kDCnZ-hJFy3-kDBeD-7DV8Tm-hJFxZ-iGU5y
© Maximilian Helm/ Flickr

Northern BC is characterized by some of the wildest and most beautiful landscapes in the province. Grizzly, black, and Spirit bears live and thrive in the rich old-growth forests, misty fjords, and rocky coastlines. You might even spot a bear from the highway, though it’s best to access many of the remote areas in Northern BC via a guided bear-watching trip. Also visit Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, which is the first place in Canada created specifically to protect these giant bears.

Spirit Bear, British Columbia | © Maximilian Helm / Flickr

Kootenay Rockies


The extensive mountain ranges and valleys in the Kootenay Rockies are home to black and grizzly bears. If you take a drive through the backroads, you could catch sight of bears grazing through roadside foliage. You can also partake in a bear-watching tour at Grizzly Bear Ranch or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, BC. You can also check in with local Visitor Centres for more information about guided bear-watching tours available through the area.

Kootenay National Park, BC, Canada

Grizzly Bear | © Richard Giddins / Flickr

Thompson Okanagan


Black bears and grizzly bears reside in the Thompson Okanagan region. You can head to the wilderness of the Wells Gray Provincial Park and the North Thompson River in the Monashee Mountains; they are optimal spots to experience bear habitats. Depending on the time of year and your location, you could spot bears with cubs, bears fishing for salmon, or bears grazing through grasses and foliage.

Wells Gray Provincial Park, 416 Eden Rd, Clearwater, BC, Canada, +1 250 674 3334

Black Bear | © Echo Valley Ranch / Flickr

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