Yosemite black bear

Yosemite black bears can be difficult to find without the right guide.

When you visit a national park, you need to bring your brains with you. Not everyone does. Every year people get too close to a bison or some other dangerous animal and pay the price, sometimes the ultimate price.

Yosemite National Park is home to about 500 black bears which, incidentally, are not always black; sometimes they’re brown or blond. Perhaps surprisingly, people are much more likely to injure bears in the park than bears are likely to injure people—in 2021, 19 bears were hit by cars in Yosemite and five died. In fact, there is no record of anyone ever being killed by a bear in Yosemite. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to take precautions and be sensible.

A seasoned, private Yosemite guide knows all the bear precautions to take so you’ll have a fun, safe visit to the park. Food is a major concern, of course. Bears are tricky, and they love people food. They can break into cars and roof-top storage containers and reach those bags of food hanging in trees. At campgrounds, the park provides food storage lockers, or you can purchase an approved bear canister to store food overnight while in the wilderness. And by the way, you won’t be storing that food in your tent or even near your tent. It should be a nice distance away.

Yosemite Black Bear near tree

Do you see the black bear at the base of the Yosemite Valley tree?

On the trail, we insist you keep 50 yards, at a minimum, between you and a bear. Black bears can run 35 miles per hour; can you? If we unexpectedly encounter a bear in Yosemite and are closer than 50 yards, we won’t be running to get 50 yards away. And we won’t be using bear spray—it’s illegal in the park. We’ll stand as tall as we can and wave our arms and shout, intimidating the bear into leaving us alone.

Bears are magnificent, powerful creatures. Leave them alone, don’t entice them with food or food odors and you may be lucky enough to see them from a safe distance.