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977 Bearly a Visit
Jenny Lake Campground
Summer Stories

Black bear outside of a tent at Jenny Lake Campground

One of our favorite campgrounds is the Jenny Lake Campground in Grand Teton National Park. The campground is for tents only and has modest accommodations including: a site number, parking for one vehicle (and one only), a table, fire ring, tent pad, shared water spigots, restrooms at a central location, and bear boxes.

In the summer of 2014, when we set up camp at Jenny Lake, we heard, almost immediately, news about at least one bear who was making a habit of visiting the campground. The Campground Host and Park Rangers made the rounds to warn us (as well as the 48 other sites) about the bear and fellow campers shared their bear stories. The bear was becoming quite the celebrity.

We had already modified our camping rules to avoid attracting bears to our sites. By improving food, cooking, and toiletries (soap, lotion, shampoo, etc) storage we tried to lessen the attractive smells. Among changes were to buy a Yeti cooler with locks, use OPSaks (odor proof) for all food storage, limit the amount of stored food, always use the bear boxes, and keep a super clean camp. We only hoped our camping neighbors were doing likewise.

One morning, I woke early and was heating water for breakfast, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a black bear moseying through a neighbor's site. Amy was still in the tent, so I told her I had my eye on a bear that was close by. With my camera in hand I tracked the bruin as he went from site to site looking for food. He checked out the tents, picnic tables, fire pits, and cars at each site and then moved on to the next. I stayed a comfortable distance away as I watched with amazement. He moved slowly and gracefully. It was not yet dawn, as he stealthily moved from shadow to shadow.

A woman drove up behind me. When I showed her the bear, she stopped the car and walked with me as we took pictures and made sure the bear was not getting into any food or causing any harm. The bear finally ducked into the shadows and was gone.

I left the woman and returned to my site. Amy was waiting in the car, half asleep. After a scolding for bear watching, I downloaded the photos. One photo was a pretty good picture of a bear right outside of the door of our neighbor's tent. It was still early, but I thought I'd share the photo with the site occupants the next time that I saw them.

Later, I saw a woman at the site. We talked briefly and I found that she already knew the bear visited the campground.

Ah, but, did you know the bear visited your site?

I then showed her the photos on my laptop. She was thrilled and wanted a copy. She was attending a family gathering in which she and her sister were camping, against the will of the rest of the family. She could not wait to show them the photo.

Amy and I were gone most of the day, but in the afternoon and evening I watched the site for our neighbors. I would have loved to have talked to the other sister! Well, they did not return to their site that evening. In fact, I never saw them again. Their tent was set up for a couple more days, but they did not spend another night at the site.

As for the woman who drove up behind me and then walked with me as we tried to photograph the bear ... she was camped in one of the sites the bear visited. The next morning as I walked to the restroom, I noticed she was sleeping in her car.

We stayed in the campground for the alloted seven days and slept in the tent, but Amy kept bear spray with her at all times, and I always knew where a cannister was located.

Ha! - Yogi (the bear) got us all with bearly a visit.


Happy Bear trails


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