Bear Country

Properly Storing Food in Bear Country

General Notes

  • Bears are attracted to anything with an odor - that includes food, garbage, utensils, coolers, toiletries, lotions, etc.
  • Bears learn very quickly. Bears which associate food with poeple may become aggressive and dangerous - this may lead to personal injury, property damage and dead bears.
  • Don't be the one responsible for the death of a bear because YOU did not store your food properly.
  • Use bear-proof food storage boxes whenever possible. They are available in campgrounds, trailheads, and some backcountry sites and are shared with all travelers.
  • Store soap, sunscreen, deodorant, toothpaste and garbage in the same way as food.
  • Bears are attracted to anything with an odor.
  • Coolers, backpacks, wooden boxes and tents are not bear resistant!
  • Always dispose of trash and food waste correctly. When in doubt, pack it out.
  • Never attempt to retrieve food from a bear. Don't try to pick a fight with or chase away a grizzly bear, they will attack. Give them plenty of room.
  • Never approach a bear or get near a cub.

In Established Campgrounds

  • Store your food and any other item with odors in one of the following places:
    • Place the items in the metal storage boxes located throughout the campground. Keep in mind that you must share these food boxes with other campers.
    • Put everything inside your car - preferably in the trunk (be warned, some bears will break into your car if they smell or see items).
    • Hang your items from a tree or cable - at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet out from any vertical support, and preferably more than 100 yards from your tent..


In The Backcountry

  • Plan your trip so you don't leave food and containers (ice chests, bags, cans) in cars at the trailhead. If available, use trailhead food storage boxes. Bears can break into vehicles if they see or smell signs of food.
  • Carefully hang food at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet out from any vertical support, and preferably more than 100 yards from your tent.
  • Another method of hanging your food is by the counter-balance method. It works well with small and light loads.
  • Bears are active both day and night. At night and any time you are away from camp, remove all food from your pack and store it properly. Leave your pack on the ground with flaps and pockets open.
  • When you leave an area, take all your garbage with you.
  • If a bear does get your food, please take the responsibility for cleaning up and packing out all debris.
  • Report any encounter to the nearest Forest Service or Park Service Office

Note: These regulations and precautions help decrease the chance of personal injury or property damage. However, bear damage and confrontations are still possible, even when all guidelines are followed.