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Old 04-05-2009, 08:12 PM   #1
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Bear Country

My wife and I are looking at taking a trip to the area around Yellow Stone Park this summer. I've been to that area and want to show it to her. We have an '06 Bambi and probably will be doing some boondocking. I've never camped in real bear country before and I'd like to hear what peoples expierences are. Also is there anything that I need to watch out for as far as cooking in the trailer and storing food in it?

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Old 04-05-2009, 09:06 PM   #2
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bears are a serious problem in yellowstone. the staff there will make sure that you follow the rules in the park........but you will still have visitors. a partial list of things _not_ to leave outside the trailer unattended:
-food of any kind
-toothpaste
-deodorant
-tobacco products
-any garbage what so ever.

you will probably be ok with any food kept/ cooked in the trailer.

watch out for the bison as well. they wont take your food, but when the herd decides to move through your camping spot, small insignificant things like aluminum travel trailers (and people) dont stand up to them very well.
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:41 PM   #3
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Include pretty much anything with a strong odor in that list.

Several years ago, one of the Boy Scouts over at Cimarron (Philmont) was killed by a bear when it entered his tent. The only thing anybody could figure out was that the kid had some nice, strawberry-aroma shampoo.

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Old 04-05-2009, 09:51 PM   #4
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I hate to nitpick but the bears aren't the problem in Yellowstone, people are. If the well-meaning but misguided would stop feeding the bears (intentionally or by not following the excellent defensive strategies mentioned in post #2) then the bears would be in the high country well away from the summer crowds.

Two years ago the big problem was coyotes picking off yappy little dogs that were either tehered outside or on those long retractable leashes. Alpo on the hoof so to speak...

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Old 04-05-2009, 10:44 PM   #5
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The chances are pretty good that no matter how hard you try, you will enjoy the typical camping/yellowstone adventure. The masses of folks are very well guided by the rules that prevent CNN from doing a primetime show about campers getting eaten by Yogi and Boo-boo.
They will insist that you dont have any ice chests unattended and no grills left outside. The first thing the camp host will tell you is they are pet-unfriendly. We took our dog, Mac, and we were warned thet but they don't like feeding the local Coyotes, so keep the pets close by. We never were able to get a true remote experence, kinda like a boondocking version of 6 flags with some unbelievable views.
"stay on the board walk, keep moving"

My bet is you will enjoy the Tetons much better....
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Old 04-06-2009, 01:35 AM   #6
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Hello,

We've camped at Yellowstone, but never boondocked... we have stayed quite a bit in Yosemite and they have major bear problems as well... in Yosemite we did not leave any food, smelly soap, anything in the trailer, but packed all in the large metal bear proof boxes provided. It is a hassle going to the locker each time you want to prepare food or a cup of coffee.... but bears can go through a Bambi as easy as they can go through a tent! And, they don't even have to use the door! If you've ever seen what they do to a car they want to get in.... just think how much stronger the metal might be on a car... so we always camp in bear areas like we are backpacking... as safely as possible.
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Old 04-06-2009, 06:56 AM   #7
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If you want a really extraordinary, but very safe, animal adventure out there, look up the Teton Science School and go on one of their wildlife expeditions. We did a day trip last year--saw elk, moose, lots of bison , a black bear and a BLACK WOLF! The guides are professional wildlife biologists with master's degrees,, and are incredibly knowledgeable about the animals and the environment. It is a little pricey, but well worth it. They have safari-type vehicles, high-powered scopes, binoculars, the whole deal. They are doing bear and wolf expeditions this year, but we will be east so will have to put that off til 2010.
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:05 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
I hate to nitpick but the bears aren't the problem in Yellowstone, people are. .......

mike
good point, although the end result is still the same.
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:36 PM   #9
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Just curious, are the local campgrounds with hookups (e.g., KOA, etc.) any safer, as far as bears are concerned? We are also planning a trip to Yellowstone, but will stay at KOA-type parks for the convenience (grandkids); and will disconnect and take day trips into the park.

In similar excursions into Yosemite, we didn't see any bears...
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:17 PM   #10
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Bear potential is present anywhere in the country where bears reside---everything out there is bear-proofed, visitors and campers are cautioned strongly about not doing anything to encourage an encounter. You are given lots of information, are probably plenty safe as long as you pay attention to the rules! We would not camp in a tent out there, nor allow our grandchildren to do so.
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Old 04-06-2009, 04:09 PM   #11
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The potential for a visit from a bear is almost everywhere as doug&maggie say, though more so in national and state parks, forests and other public land. Bears are opportunists and generally look for the easy meal, something humans often supply. They are, in a sense, into "fast food" with a very broad definition of what "food" is. I would be careful about leaving the outer door open, especially at night, because screen doors mean little to bears. The same goes for windows when things quiet down at the campgrounds—stick with the vents on the roof for ventilation. Many reports of bear visits in houses show the bear came in through the screen door from the deck, or even through a window. Bear spray is a good idea if things get really dicey.

It's true a very hungry, angry bear can rip the door off a car or a trailer, but they usually go for something easier. Someone posted a photo about a month ago how a bear ripped open a trailer skin, but it didn't appear he got in. Bears have stomachs of steel. A friend visiting the Boundary Waters watched a bear drink all his shampoo and other liquids, eat toothpaste and some spices.

If you visit Yellowstone in the summer, you will find lots and lots of people, traffic jams and packed campgrounds. In the Fall, the bears are in a feeding frenzy and that would seem to be the most dangerous time. In the Spring, they are also very hungry, but less so than in the Fall. Note that Spring comes late in Yellowstone and Fall early. We have gone in the Spring as soon as things start to open up. If you take normal precautions, someone else may be dumb enough to attract the bears away from you. Some campgrounds are from time to time closed to tents because of bears. We stayed in a tent about 20 years ago and in the morning buffalo were wandering through the campground, a rather disconcerting sight.

Given how we have food in all sorts of places in the Safari, I don't think it would be easy to take all of it and place it in a bearproof containers. I would think the refrigerator should be safe place not allowing the odors to escape. The Yellowstone NP website and the Xanterra one has some information about trailers, food and bears, or you could call them.

There's no boondocking at Yellowstone. You have to make reservations at the Xanterra campgrounds and they may be the only ones for RV's. Some NP campgrounds are first come, first served, but I don't know if any of them are for RV's.

The fact is almost everyone has an uneventful trip and few people have bear problems. You will probably remember the crowds and traffic jams as the worst part of the trip unless you go off season. It is a beautiful place and our last time we spent a week there staying at lodgings (no trailer then) as an anniversary trip. We didn't get to see everything and may go back another time, this time with the Airstream. It's well worth seeing Yellowstone even in the summer.

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Old 04-06-2009, 06:28 PM   #12
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I have to add here that I saw a story on the Today show last year about a little boy aggressively attacked by a black bear on a hike in the Smoky Mtns with his parents. He had been afraid to hike, for fear of bears, his parents made him go, he got attacked by a bear. I'm sure his parents will never hear the end of that. A true story. I refuse to hike in the woods----maybe I'm a scaredy cat, but we stick to bike riding on hard surfaces.
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:30 PM   #13
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Hey Flyguy!

First of all, I too have a 19' Bambi (though mine is a 2005). Have been out to Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Rocky Mountain on several occasions with our rig. Here is what you need to know... No, you do not have a bear risk issue of any magnitude. I also spend time in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (every year) and have never had a bear problem anywhere. A very basic thought will certainly result in a safe and sound trip. Keep your campsite clean, and free of any garbage. Don't worry at all about bears coming into your rig. I would absolutely keep my outside door closed at night, but unless you have some very unseasonable temps, or if you're a lot more macho than me, you're going to do that anyway! It gets cold in the mountains.

You are not likely to have any adverse bear activity at all. Bears are to be respected, but they are not typically aggressive. They would prefer to stay clear of humans as a rule. If you follow the rules, you're much more likely to end your camping trip out there wishing you could have had the chance to see one - rather than having been involved in any kind of bad experience!

In all of my trips to the BWCAW (of which there have been many - 4 last year) all in a tent, we have never had any problems with bears. If you are reasonably careful, you will not have anything to worry about. Keep in mind that all of our BWCAW trips include bringing food into the wilderness and stroring it for use during the trips, all while camping in tents, not 19' metallic trailers (we are VERY careful to properly store our food stuffs tied-up in trees appropriately out of harms way). A little thoughtful caution, and you will have the time of your life enjoying some of the most beatuiful places on the planet.

Last comment... We have been to Yellowstone no less than 6 trips, of which we have seen bear (that's right - merely seeing one) exactly twice! They're pretty elusive.

Go, have fun, and don't let an irrational fear steal your experience! Use common sense and follow the rules. As pointed out already, we're the intruders in their environment. That does not mean we cannot have a ton of fun and be safe at the same time. If you see a bear, get to a safe location and do the next most important thing... grab your camera and wear-out your shutter! Have fun!
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:50 PM   #14
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Fly Guy,
We lived in the area for 3 years visited the park often and did most of our camping in a narrow strip of national forest between Yellowstone and Teton National parks. Keep your camp area clean, do not use scented anything shampoo, deodorant etc., enjoy yourself and when hiking make lots of noise bears will not be a problem. I worry more about the mosquitoes, so unscented DEET is a must. oh yeah that narrow strip of NF is in the Targhee National Forest and open to camping most any where you choose to stop with no fee. Keep this a secret or it may become the next wilderness area.
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:52 PM   #15
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I've tent camped in the hills of West Virginia black bear country, and never worried much about it.

I've also spent two weeks in Canada canoeing the lakes and rivers in bear country, and never worried much about it.

I've also tent camped in the mountains of Utah in bear country, and never worried much about it.

I've tent camped in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, and had far too many encounters with skunks than I want to remember.

I spent a summer, on a dairy farm, in Idaho, about three hours from Yellowstone, and had far too many encounters with skunks than I want to remember.

I would worry about the skunks, and ignore the bears.

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Old 04-06-2009, 10:05 PM   #16
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Just curious, are the local campgrounds with hookups (e.g., KOA, etc.) any safer, as far as bears are concerned? We are also planning a trip to Yellowstone, but will stay at KOA-type parks for the convenience (grandkids); and will disconnect and take day trips into the park.

In similar excursions into Yosemite, we didn't see any bears...
We've camped in Teton Villiage twice, been to the Yellowstone/Teton area 4 times and seen one bear....that was on a hike around the backside of Jenny Lake in the Tetons. The bear was several hundred yards away and even then was very shy.
The improved campgrounds are all in locations where I wouldn't expect that you would even see bears, let alone have a problem.
My disclaimer is that I have only been there in June, July and October.
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Old 04-07-2009, 05:34 AM   #17
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I came face to face with this black bear at the Loft Mountain Campground off the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia last October. I turned to return to my Airstream and he was there blocking my return. When he stepped behind the 5th Wheel I was able to get back.

The rangers told me that he was a 250 pounder and had been causing trouble in the campground and wouldn't stand down if confronted.

It's smart to give them their space, after all, it's their home, we're just visitors.

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Old 04-08-2009, 08:08 PM   #18
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I've spent a lot of time camping in Yellowstone. Sometimes bears seem to be everywhere and sometimes they're elusive but I've seen dozens of bears in my time there. About 3 years ago we had a young adult Grizzly come into our campground twice. You really have to follow the rules in the campgrounds and you'll be fine. Since we like to do a lot of hiking into some lesser traveled areas I always carry bear spray but I've never had a close encounter with a bear. For $30 it gives a little peace of mind.

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Old 04-08-2009, 11:36 PM   #19
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I would worry about the skunks, and ignore the bears.
Woody
LOL. Black bears are usually not a problem. If you make enough noise, they disappear long before you ever see them. However, younger ones seem to less fearful and more of a nuisance, and will come to campgrounds at night looking for garbage. (They also like consuming leftover fruit - from trees that were not picked - in the fall, and I've been told that they will happily gorge themselves, perhaps eating 40 lbs at a sitting, without any regard for the gastrointestinal consequences!)

Grizzlies are the real cause for concern, but I've been told that they tend to stick to the upper 1/3 of the mountains, e.g. above 4000 or 5000 ft elevation, and that sightings are quite rare. A friend had a grizzly tag last fall, and wasted several weekends hunting for one, without success.

I'm more concerned about mountain lions. They are known to stalk humans hiking alone, but are not an issue as long as people stick together.
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Old 04-09-2009, 02:36 AM   #20
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The Silver Dragon still has a bear claw mark in the refrig door, got there at the prior owner's yard in Truckee, CA. No marks on the trailer door tho.
I keep a dish of ammonia or PinSol in the refrig and trailer while it's winterized, havent had any trouble in the trailer, while my yard has lots of bear manure during the apple and plum season.
In my camping experience, don't have any bacon in your gear, period, true bear bait. It's been said they don't like strong citrus.
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