Denali: Grizzly Bears

Since we had only seen grizzly bears from miles away in Yellowstone, we were delighted to see them much closer while riding the bus to Wonder Lake in Denali National Park (NP).

According to the Park Service, “The grizzly bear is characterized by a distinctive hump on the shoulders, a slightly dished profile to the face, and long claws on the front paws.”

These bears are eating grass and other plants. “Grizzly bears are omnivorous, eating a mixed diet of grasses, berries, roots, fish and small mammals. They are also predators of caribou and moose and their calves. They will scavenge carrion when available. The roots of peavine (Hedysarum alpinum) are important spring and late fall food. Green vegetation is preferred through the summer.”

grizzly bear walking (click to enlarge)
grizzly bear walking (click to enlarge)

We saw a third bear, also eating in a meadow. The bus driver told us that the grizzly bears are the same species as the brown bears on the Alaskan coast. The Denali grizzly bears grow to 800 pounds on primarily a vegetarian diet. The brown bears of the coast eat salmon and other rich foods, and they grow to 1,200 pounds.

bear grazing in another meadow (click to enlarge)
bear grazing in another meadow (click to enlarge)

We saw these bears on our first morning, which started as overcast. We looked for bears when we returned in the late afternoon, but we didn’t see any. Nor did we see any on our second day, when it was warmer.

The grizzly bear dominates California’s state flag, adopted in 1911. The last California grizzly bear was shot in 1922.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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