Grand Teton Bear Family

July 11, 2010

While not wild horses, this was quite an experience that I wanted to share. (Little hint – click on the photo for a sharper image).

Tom and I had 10 days to explore the Montana and Wyoming wild horse ranges recently. We also spent a couple of days at Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We’ve been there several times, but it’s just such a beautiful area, we couldn’t resist another visit.

We had just crossed over the Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park (heading south) when we glanced over at a pretty little pond covered with lilies. Tom knows I love these little ponds so he slowed down and was looking in that direction with me. That’s when we both noticed something moving above the pond. A bear! No, a bear with a cub! No, a bear with two cubs! Cool! And that’s when it happened. We created one of those famous park sensations – a “bear jam.”

Is that the cutest thing ever?!

It took a bit to figure out what they were eating, but it appeared to be a deer carcass. Black bears are omnivores - they won't hunt meat, but they will eat carrion when they find it.

And then momma bear starting moving away...

Oh what a treat - she was going to get a drink in the pond while we watched.

Umm, no โ€“ she was going to get all the way in the pond!

Oh and look - the little ones are coming down too!

Too cute! The cubs are going for a swim.

I've never witnessed an encounter like this before - such luck!

Momma swam around while the cub hung on.

She swam around in circles - a water bear ballet. So much fun to watch!


When one of the little ones panicked a bit, mamma gently grabbed it and brought it up out of the water.

Here she barely has hold of the second cub who needs a little help. So gentle with her youngsters.

Nope, not letting go!

Not gonna!

You can't make me!

I'm a Cling On!

Well then hang on kid - here we go!

Such a unique and fun experience!!

(Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction or downloading permitted. Feel free to share the link, not the images. To share, click on the blog entry title. The permanent link will be displayed in your browserโ€™s address bar. Copy this address to share.)

16 Responses to “Grand Teton Bear Family”

  1. Thanks for sharing,these are beautiful, you’re so lucky you get to do this.

  2. great series Pam! what a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing

  3. Darcy Says:

    Pam those are totally awesome. I love that area, my husband & son & I have spent alot of time up there & never got lucky enough to see that! Your images are so beautiful & love the pic comments hahaha. Love the clinger.

  4. John Stoj Says:

    Love ’em… Awesome moments… It’s not often the opportunity occurs… Great set! Congrats.

  5. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks Brenda – yup, I know how lucky I am. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks Billie! I was just amazed at the interaction and that our timing was so good that we got to see it!

    Hi Darcy – it was kind of a strange trip this year. We usually see a lot of moose and a bear or two if we’re lucky. This time – 14 bear sightings and only 1 moose! I’m good with that though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks John – in a perfect world, it would have been perfect light, but I’m really grateful for the experience in any light. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Lori Schmidt Says:

    I am sooooo envious!!! Wonderful, thanks for sharing Pam!

  7. Kim Michels Says:

    What fun!! Brought back memories of being a kd and watching the bears play at Bear Country USA. I especially like image 1134.

  8. Sandy Says:

    Wonderful Pam! What a lucky thing for you and Tom to witness. The photos are amazing!

  9. Joanne K. Says:

    What a beautiful series of photos of this Bear family! I have never seen such tender shots of such a commanding animal. Thanks for shooting this and sharing it!

  10. Margaret Says:

    Pam you were north of Jenny Lake Lodge. It’s the road leading from Moose to Yellowstone. You start at that road a couple of miles in from Moran Jct and the roads ends at Moose ranger station. Is this the road you were on?

    I can hardly wait. I’m leaving for the area in three weeks. My sister and I saw a big black bear last summer on the three mile one way road that loops Jenny Lake Lodge.

    On the Moose/Wilson Road going from Moose–about a mile or so in–is an area that I call Moose Candy Row. It’s swampy and has grasses growing in water. Bushes and tress growing out of the water. Total candy for moose. In this area I saw 5 moose in one week.

    Antelope Flats Rd which is in the Forest on the east side of 89 just north of Moose is a wonderful area to see bison in the early morning and late afternoon.

    This trip I only get one night in Yellowstone. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Park. I just found out its 4 1/2 hrs from one side of the park to the other with no people/animal jams. But never fear I have a terrific trip planned. I am very excited about it.

    Bear scare me. But people should know that because a bear rears up doesn’t mean he’s getting ready to charge. Bears don’t see well. And they don’t have distance vision. So they rear up as a way to help them see.

    The following are things I learned from my studies last year. None of them are guaranteed to keep one from injury.

    If you are out on a hike and oome across a bear, quiety back up the way you came. Don’t cry, scream or make ANY noise. There is time for that later on.

    I don’t remember what they said about if a bear rears up but my best guess is this–drop down and eat dirt fact first. Put your arms up over the back of your head. STAY QUIET. This is imperative. If the bear does attack hopefully he’ll bite your butt and it won’t taste very good. Don’t roll over–you are face first to protect your vital organs.

    Bears have been known to make false charges. This means he’ll charge you like he’s means to hurt you but will stop at the last moment.

    You can try bear tear gas. Be aware that you will affected by it also. Some bears of immune to it and it will only anger them further.

    Best thing to do is ALWAY GIVE THE RIGHT OF WAY TO BEARS. If that means you have to come back another day to do your hike–you will have your life. In Yellowstone you are required by law to maintain at least 100 yards at all times between you and a bear.

    I only pass this on as an fyi to everyone only. I also use it as a reminder to me because of my upcoming trip.

  11. Julie R. Says:

    Wow, what a rich gift, made for you! I think of such moments as a love gift or hug from God. Looks like you got yourself a bear hug, Pam! ๐Ÿ˜‰ When I receive such a gift I try to remember to write a record of it, so as not to forget all the details that are lovingly tucked inside. Often there is an encouraging and delightful symbolic message as well, which is remarkably fun to explore!

  12. pnickoles Says:

    I like that Julie – a bear hug! I always say “thanks” out loud each time something is sent or shown to me (such as this moment). And I guess my photos are my record of all those moments. Thanks for your thought-invoking comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks Lori, Kim, Sandy and Joanne! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Margaret – we were just coming south from the Moran Jct. (Oxbow Bend area) and had just crossed over the Dam. That’s where we saw these guys, but we also saw bear right after Moran Jct. (right in front of the Tetons early one morning – a young grizzly after elk calves), Dunraven Pass (Grizzly sow w/2 cubs)and near Mammoth Hot Springs (Grizzly sow w/4 cubs). After photographing mountain lions, bears don’t scare me near as much anymore. They do. Also, there’s almost no hiking allowed in the meadows right now due to bear activity. After seeing that grizzly lying in wait for those elk, I can understand completely why that is!! Have a great/safe trip!

  14. kim Zamudio Says:

    So Cool. Those shots are better than anything I have seen on the Discovery channel or National Geographic! That must have been so much fun watching them and getting those great pix. Your trip sounds awesome!

  15. Jennifer Says:

    Wow! I’ve never seen bear photos like these! too cool Pam! You are so lucky to be graced with such beauty! That is so amazing that your timing is so perfect for so many of your photos. Keep ’em coming Pam! Does wonders for the soul and spirit. God bless you and Tom!

  16. Kathy Says:

    Great job on the bears and I forgive you for changing horses for a moment.

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