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bears in Alberta

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WS Member WS Member's picture
bears in Alberta


I'm French and I intend to cycle around Banff, from Vancouver maybe, next summer. I cyled through Ontario last summer and apart from greedy racoons, it was safe. I really want to go up north but I really worry about bears along the road. I've read quite a lot about it and it seems to be a real risk. To what extent is it real?
thanks ever so much for any (reassuring) information


WS Member WS Member's picture
bears in canada

Hi Agnes,
I cycled from Vancouver to Winnipeg and across Vancouver Island in 2011. I was concerned about bear encounters beeing so exposed when riding on your bike. As it turned out, I didn't spot a single bear, just saw some suspicious traces along the road. I didn't camp but stayed at motels and warmshower places. Local Warmshower hosts (one of them a former national park ranger) gave me some advices: (1) Make noise, don't startle a bear, (2) You can't outrun a bear, (3) in case of a black bear, act impressiv, self-assured; in case of Grizzly: act cautious and unobstrusive, withdraw cautiously.

Enjoy your ride and safe cycling


WS Member WS Member's picture

I cycled from Vancouver to Banff and then south to Missoula this summer. The area received a lot of rain and there was a bumper crop of berries (a principle diet of the bears). I encountered a grisly as I pedaled along Hwy 93 but the bear didn't even acknowledge me as he/she was busy in the berry bushes in the ditch. The campgrounds have bear boxes (use them!). I also camped in town parks where I felt safer than wild camping. When in an area where you do not have bear boxes (i.e. wild camping) follow good bear etiquette and suspend your food from a tree at least a 100' from your tent. In Kootenay National Park (south of Banff) the park does not take steps to manage the bears; they allow the bears to be bears.

So, will you be safe? I can't say, but I can recommend that you camp in populated areas, formal campgrounds or with an accommodating Warmshowers host. And enjoy your ride!

WS Member jpark's picture
Hi Agnes,

Hi Agnes,

I've lived in Alberta my whole life and frequently visit the Canadian Rockies. I've cycled across from Edmonton to Vancouver, including traveling down from Jasper to Banff.

I would never down-play the potential danger of facing a bear however, in my experience, as long as I'm being cautious it's never been an issue for me. Make sure to follow basic rules which you can obtain at the local visitor information centre; such as storing your food in the bear box or hanging it over a tree and never cooking near your tent/storing snacks in the tent with you. If you spot a bear on the road, keep a safe distance. If you see bear cubs, that's a sure sign you want to stay as far as possible. There are heaps of maintained campgrounds and hostels along the way, if it makes you feel safer to be around other people. If you are planning on camping in campgrounds, pick a spot far away from garbage bins, food boxes, berry shrubs.

Many people visit the Canadian Rockies without ever seeing a bear! So if you do spot one on the road, be cautious and make sure you are safe then enjoy the moment because spotting a bear is one of the best part about cycling through the Rockies.

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