Grizzly in the Grand Tetons

grizzly bear #399 and cub

When we visited the Grand Tetons in May this year, I had dreams of seeing large wildlife. Bear, bison and moose were at the top of my list. I had never seen anything larger than a deer so I spent days researching locations in the park frequented by wildlife. My dreams came true!! Not only did we see a grizzly bear and her cub but we found out later it was the famous #399!

grizzly bear #399 and cub

My husband, cousin and I had stopped at Willow Flats Overlook and were trying to chat with a park ranger who was manning a display. He was not very friendly and honestly didn’t want to talk (they need to pick another ranger for this job!). I overheard his radio go off and they said “she’s heading toward the hill”. While I had no idea who “she” was or where the hill was, we got in the car and headed north. As we crossed the creek we saw cars lined up on both sides of the road and the lights of the ranger vehicles flashing. I slowed the car just as we spotted her in the field on our left. There was no where to pull off and no one behind me, so I stopped 🙂 My husband was in the passenger seat watching through binoculars and trying to give me room to photograph across him (he knows me well).

She was gorgeous! Walking across the field with a little cub in tow.

grizzly bear #399 and cub

And then she looked at me!!!! Well, maybe not me specifically, but she took in the view of people admiring her. And probably checked to be sure we were staying far enough from her cub.

grizzly bear #399 and cub
grizzly bear #399 and cub

#399 is famous in the Grand Tetons and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. She is called the matriarch of the park or Queen of the Tetons. She is 27 years old and the oldest documented grizzly to have a cub!

I could have stayed for hours watching her but she ambled across the field with her cub and out of sight.

grizzly bear #399 and cub

She turned her head slightly and gave her cub a little love sniff. Yes, he/she is still beside me and all is well! Thank you grizzly #399 for making a dream come true!

grizzly bear #399 and cub

All images were taken from the road with a 600mm lens and then cropped in post processing.

Respect wildlife and observe from a safe distance so they are not scared or forced to flee or attack. Do not feed or touch wildlife! Leave no trace.

Photograph what brings you Joy!

  1. Connie Taylor says:

    THESE ARE THE BEST!!!! I can’t believe (well, I CAN because of the photographer) how great these photos came out! It just made me re-live the experience all over again. Beautiful #399!! She’s SO majestic! Love, love, LOVE this blog!!

  2. Joanne says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. The photography is amazing!

  3. Bonnie Roman says:

    Great story and great picture

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