Kananaskis Country


Where can i See Bears in Kananaskis Country?

The question Where can I see bears in Kananaskis Country? depends on a few factors, but there are no guarantees.

Two species of bears and present in Kananaskis Country, grizzly bears, and black bears. Both are widespread and relatively common.

Bears are sighted on Kananaskis Country roads between April and October. Both species of bears come out of hibernation in April or May, and this period of springtime, until June, is the best time of year for seeing bears. There are two reasons for this:

1) Snow has melted in lower valleys and there is more food available, including dandelions along the edge of highways.

2) Kananaskis Country is less crowded (with humans). As the region gets busier, bears tend to move away from highways into remote valleys.

Although spring offers the best chance of seeing bears, you may see them at any time of year between March and October, and maybe even later some years if the weather is warmer and snowfall minimal.

The best place to see black and grizzly bears in Kananaskis Country is along Highway 40 through Kananaskis Valley and along the Smith Dorrien/Spray Lakes Road. Aside from Highwood Pass (Highway 40), where grizzlies often take up residence in summer, there are no particular sections of any Kananaskis Country highway where sightings are more common, but early in the morning is the best time of day for seeing bears. Bears are also seen regularly on the Kananaskis Country Golf Course, although you are not permitted onto the course (unless you are golfing).

grizzly bear, Kananaskis Country

A grizzly sow and her cub along Highway 40.

Bear Safety in Kananaskis Country

The chance to see bears in their natural habitat is one of the biggest draws of Kananaskis Country. To help preserve this precious resource, obey regulations and use common sense. If you see a bear by the roadside:

DRIVE BY SLOWLY instead of stopping. This is the best way to minimize your impact on a roadside bear.

WARN OTHER MOTORISTS by flashing your hazard lights.

If you do stop, PULL OVER SAFELY without blocking the driving lane (ideally at a pull-off).

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE. Observe and photograph the bear from the safety of your car.

DO NOT GET TOO CLOSE. Please ensure that your vehicle is not crowding or obstructing a bear’s pathway.

DO NOT FEED THE BEARS. This may seem obvious, but it happens, most commonly when visitors through food out their windows when bears are present. Feeding bears endanger you, the bear, and other visitors, as they become aggressive when looking for handouts.

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Although it’s tempting to get close to wildlife for a better look or a photograph, it disturbs the animal and, in many cases, can be dangerous.

Further Reading About Bears

Canadian Rockies Wildlife PhotographyMany books about bears are available, including some that reference Kananaskis Country bears. Please go to our Books About Bears page.

Even if you are not a wildlife photographer, Canadian Rockies Wildlife Photography, an eBook by renowned wildlife photographer Wayne Lynch, is an excellent way to learn about Kananaskis Country bears, their habitats, and the best viewing opportunities.

Guidebook author Brian Patton writes about his experiences with bears on this page Bears in the Canadian Rockies.

The Alberta Government dedicates a page on its website to Kananaskis Country bear safety.