Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Is It a Black Bear or a Grizzly Bear?

©Bert Gildart:  At first Janie and I both thought we were seeing another black bear, but as we pulled our truck and Airstream onto the side of the Alaskan Highway, we both changed our mind.

“That could be a small grizzly,” Janie said. And I had to agree, despite the fact I thought it unusual for a grizzly to be near the side of a road. And although the Alaska Highway is remote, it still sees a fair number of cars, trucks–and even Airstreams–most every day.


Is it a a black bear or a grizzly bear?

Not more than an hour ago, we had left Liard Hot Springs in British Columbia to continue our journey to Fairbanks and the surrounding area. For several reasons, bears were very much on our minds–and so were ways to differentiate g-bears from black bears. We’d also been thinking about bears because one of their preferred food items was so abundant–something I well knew.

Years ago I had worked in Glacier National Park hired as an assistant biologist in the ennobling position as a scatologist. For three months I had gathered bear poop and then, later, in the park service lab, worked to identify the fecal material. The material was exactly like what Janie and I had been seeing the past few days at Liard Hot Springs. It was cow parsnip, but this was different.

Tropical Oasis

Because of the hot springs Liard was once referred to as a “tropic-like oasis.” Because of the warmth, cow parsnip is not only profuse in Liard, but it grows exceptionally high; and that may be one of the reasons we have seen so many bears in this area. In spring, it’s one of their favorite items of food.


Cow parsnip, a favorite food of blacks and grizzly bears alike is profuse and grows exceptionally tall at Liard Hot Springs.

So far, this trip has been as much about bears as anything else. Five years ago when Janie and I drove the Alaska Highway, we saw very little wildlife, but this year we have seen bison, stone sheep, caribou, black bears and now we both believed, we were seeing a grizzly bear.

The reason we were not decided is because of the bear’s youth. This must be a very young bear, perhaps a two-year old; one that may have just recently been booted from the family. Most sows, after all, are again ready to deliver a new crop of young, and young from several years ago must go.

Though it’s hard to say with any certainty, this bear probably weighed just a little over 200 pounds, and that made it difficult to determine at first whether it was a g-bear or a black bear, particularly when it was not turned sideway. Even then, the hump was not very prominent, but because of the dished-in face and what we think is the beginning of a hump, we’re calling it a young grizzly bear.

Anyone have any thoughts?

NEWS NOTES: We’re traveling the Alaskan Highway trying to post blogs when we have access to the Internet. Tonight we do for the first time in almost a week. We’ve seen much and will try and catch up when we’re parked for awhile. Meanwhile, the service we’ve paid good money for (telephone service in Canada) is not working, and we’re wondering why? As a result, we can’t call out on our Verizon phone. We thought we were paying for our service to link with the towers most used in Canada. Maybe when we get to Whitehorse our service will work; right now we’re in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory.


This Time Three Years Ago

*Top Ten National Parks For RVers

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy

Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

4 Responses to “Is It a Black Bear or a Grizzly Bear?”

  1. Ron Niebrugge Says:

    Looks like a Grizzly to me. Cool sighting! I can’t remember seeing anything but black bears in that area.

    Drive careful and enjoy your trip!


  2. Bert Says:

    Thanks, Ron, for the input. Also might note that I’ve enjoyed your photo blog since our brief meeting in Anza Borrego this past winter. In fact, I follow it and think it provides some of the very best coverage on the subject matter we both seem to admire.

  3. Ron Niebrugge Says:

    Thanks Bert,

    Likewise, I have been following your blog as well – It is interesting how our interests in subject matter and taking long trips with towing a trailer parallel each other. Keep up the great work!


  4. Arnis Says:

    Funny! Connie & I stopped at Liard Hot Springs on June 26th and saw a small brown bear a few miles down the road as well. Also had the same conversation regarding whether it was a black or a griz and came to the same conclusion — a young grizzly. In all likelihood the same bear! I knew from this blog you would be traveling the Alaskan highway at the same time we were and was on the lookout for your rig but never saw it.