Grizzly bears arrive en masse each autumn at Bear Cave Mountain, where thermal springs percolate through the limestone, warming the river so it flows all year round creating spectacular results.
This thermal activity filters and oxygenates the water, creating ideal conditions for salmon eggs to thrive, providing a virtually inexhaustible source of nourishment. The outcome is an amazing annual spectacle when up to 50 bears gather to fish for salmon that make their way upriver from the Bering Sea to spawn.
By late September winter sets in and, if conditions are right, when the bears emerge from the river their wet fur freezes in the icy air, transforming their appearance. Even when caked with ice, they continue to fish long after their peers elsewhere have gone off to hibernate. By the end of October, the bears leave the river and make their way up the hillsides to den in caves on the flanks of Bear Cave Mountain. Even then, they don't hibernate fully and are easily woken.
Of course, you don't have to come all the way to the Yukon to see grizzlies chasing salmon in a river, as similar scenes play out all along the coast of Alaska and British Columbia. However, Bear Cave Mountain is very different – due to its remote inland location close to the Arctic Circle, access is very difficult and thus naturally restricted. And the climatic conditions, coupled with the effect of the thermal springs, conspire to produce exceptional photographic opportunities. This exclusive trip – no more than four guests at a time are allowed into the modest riverside camp – allows you to capture astonishing photographs of bears in these unique natural conditions.
Read about travel writer Brian Jackman's experience with the Ice Bears, or learn more on Bear Cave Mountain from our very own Chris Breen.
Please note: Due to the short season of the visiting ice bears, bookings may need to be made up to three years in advance.
The full itinerary detail is available on our website.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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