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Explore Whistler | Wildlife Edition

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Wondering where to see bears in Canada? Whistler is one of the best places to go bear watching in BC. The area is home to a large population of well-researched black bears and you don’t have to travel far to see them! If you’re wandering around Whistler Golf Course in spring or tearing down Whistler Bike Park in summer there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll bump into one of this town’s huge and furry residents.

Bears are most commonly seen at dusk and dawn, but if you want to have the best chance of witnessing them we’d definitely recommend booking a bear tour. Searching for these majestic beasts with a reputable guide not only improves your likelihood of seeing them, but it also keeps both you and the bears from getting into an unwanted situation.

Top 5 Reasons to Go Bear Watching  

  • Witness Wild Animals In Their Natural Habitat 

    You never know whats in store on a Whistler bear tour – but almost always bears!

Whistler is bear country. Bears have inhabited these lands for far longer than humans have. Viewing these animals in their natural habitat is a truly magical experience and one that will stay with you for a lifetime. Few experiences compare to watching in awe as a mother black bear tends to her young cubs. It’s a is a must-do activity when visiting this part of the world.

  • Watch Safely And Comfortably

Understandably, you might be a little nervous about actively seeking out these beautiful beasts, but you will be in safe hands with Whistler Photo Safaris. You’ll spend the tour in a rugged “air suspension” Jeep, so you can witness these wild mammals safely and comfortably.

The local bear gurus are clued-up on the ins and outs of bear behaviour and they will ensure that you are always viewing the animals from a suitable distance. Remember that bears are mainly interested in foraging, so as long as you give them plenty of space they shouldn’t be interested in you!

  • Explore BC’s Backcountry Landscape

Whistler is situated in British Columbia’s beautiful Coast Mountain Range. On a bear watching tour in BC, you will explore this majestic wilderness. As you traverse through a maze of logging roads around Whistler you’ll pass glistening glacial lakes, pristine alpine meadows, incredible waterfalls, and dense old growth forests.

Leave the crowds of the village behind and set off into the Canadian wilderness. Bear watching is the perfect excuse to explore the secret corners of this well-known town!

  • Learn About Whistler’s Ecology

The qualified and experienced guides will not only give you the best chance of seeing a black bear in the wild, but they will also teach you about the ecology of Whistler, its other flora and fauna, and the conservation efforts that are in place to maintain a healthy population of these wild animals. Regardless of whether you witness a bear or not, you’ll come away from the tour boasting a wealth of knowledge about bear biology and their habitat.

  • A Super Accessible Activity

You might think that you would only encounter one of these huge creatures in the remote outskirts of BC, but it’s actually not uncommon to see them wandering around the valley trails next to the village! Admiring these amazing animals smack-bang in the middle of a world-class resort is incredible and not something to be missed. Going on a tour will give you the greatest chance of witnessing a bear, as the experienced guides know all of the best viewing spots.

What to Expect on a Bear Watching Adventure 

In spring, be prepared for little ones. In Fall, look for big-adults putting on winter weight.

By booking a tour with Whistler Photo Safaris you’ll visit bear dens, feeding sites and viewing areas. From the safety and comfort of a 4×4 you’ll be driven through Whistler’s untamed wilderness, through coastal temperate rainforest, past billowing rapids, and next to spectacular waterfalls.

The local and experienced guides will take you to premier black bear viewing spots, that will give you the best chance of seeing one of these majestic creatures. Not only will you hopefully see a bear in its natural habitat, but you’ll also have the chance to explore areas around Whistler that are rarely visited by tourists.

Bear viewing excursions run from April to November at three times throughout the day. If you’re an early-riser, opt for the Sunrise Excursion tour which departs around 6 am (they also run an 8:45 am tour in peak summer).

If mornings aren’t your thing, book an Afternoon Excursion (departing at times starting from 1:15 pm in peak summer all the way through to 4:45 pm when November comes around). Or if you’re looking for an early evening activity choose their Sunset Excursion. This tour leaves as late as 7:30 pm in peak summer, or as early as 4 pm in the Fall.

How Much Does It Cost?

  • 2 to 2.5 hour tours: $189
  • Guests under 16: $129

When Is The Best Time To See A Bear?

The best time for bear watching in BC is from early May when the bears emerge from their hibernation dens to early August. During this time you have an 80% to 95% chance of seeing one! This is a remarkable statistic considering that we are dealing with wild animals.

As the summer progresses, bears shift their feeding patterns and move from valley level up to higher mountain elevations to forage over larger areas in search of berries. This makes them more difficult to locate. From the end of August until late October (before they start hibernating for the winter season), the chances of spotting a bear decrease to 50% to 60%.

What To Bring

  • Hiking boots or good walking shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Layers (the weather is notorious for quickly changing when you’re in the mountains)
  • Rain jacket (the tour will run rain or shine but you will be spending 90% of the time in the Jeep!)
  • Camera (you’ll have many prime photo opportunities!)
  • Respect for Mother Nature!

Where Does The Tour Begin?

Whistler Photo Safaris will pick you up from your hotel or residence in Whistler Village, the Upper Village or Creekside. It’s a door-to-door service! No need to catch a bus, hail a cab, or otherwise scramble to get your family to the tour location on time. They make it easy with free-pick ups. 

What Other Wildlife Can you Expect in Whistler? 

Whistler unofficial mountain top mascot, the Whiskey Jack

British Columbia is home to an incredible array of species, both big and small, and the beauty of bear watching in BC is that whilst exploring Whistler’s wilderness you’re likely to come across some other critters that live in this area.

Whilst keeping your eyes peeled for black bears in the old growth forests and alpine meadows, don’t forget to look up and see what birdlife you can spot. From ruffed grouse and osprey to great horned owls and bald eagles, British Columbia’s skies are filled with magnificent birdlife. On the ground, see if you can catch a glimpse of a Western Hoary marmot, and listen out for pikas as they make their distinctive call.

Along with black bears, the Whistler area is also home to some other impressive land mammals. Coyotes, slightly smaller than their wolf relatives, are generalist feeders and relatively timid. Then you have the big cat beasts of the mountains – cougars. These animals are formidable hunters and you certainly don’t want to run into one on a hike.

If you’re wondering where to see bears in Canada, visit Whistler and you’ll very likely encounter one of our town’s larger residents. A visit to Whistler isn’t complete without spotting a bear and booking a tour gives you the greatest opportunities of safely seeing one of these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

If you’re lucky enough to come across one of these black beasts while bear watching in BC, remember to always be bear smart. Whistler’s bear and human communities generally coexist well together and to keep it this way always keep a safe distance, keep calm and keep your common sense about you!