Reader Participation Day: Should The National Park Service Ban Solo Hikers In Grizzly Bear Territory?

Should solo backpackers and hikers be banned in bear country in national parks? USGS photo.

Does the National Park Service have to rethink its rules when it comes to backcountry travel in known grizzly bear habitat? That question grows in importance in the wake of last week's fatal mauling of a backpacker in Denali National Park.

Last year one hiker in Yellowstone National Park was killed by a grizzly, and another man hiking with his wife was fatally mauled in a separate incident. In the case of Denali, last week's fatal mauling was believed to be the first in the park's history. In the Yellowstone incidents, it marked the first known time that there were two fatal maulings in the same year.

National park staff routinely recommend that if you're going into bear country, you go in groups, but it's not a requirement. Should it be?


Of course not. There are so many reasons why people hike alone, shutting them out of all park within grizzly habitat would be total nonsense

Typicial knee jerk reaction trying to save us from ourself. Seriously?

Absolutely not. If someone chose to hike or backpack solo, they are accepting responsibility for doing so. People chose to go alone for many reasons, including having no one to go with. To deny a single person the chance to see and experience the backcounty would be an unreasonable response.

Maybe that would be best. We could maybe set a minimum size.....say 50 people or more. Then we could "march in" set up a nice intimate camp to handle all the needs of the group in a pristine area of the park. Ridiculous ???? Yeah, but so is yours !!

Silly question...

I believe it is difficult to protect people from themselves. This applies not only to hiking alone in bear country, but also to other situations such as hikers ill-prepared for trail and weather conditions, etc. What should be looked at further is the idea of having folks assessed for the costs of search and rescue, should they be determined to have taken unnecessary risks without following the recommendations of professional park staff.

No, I don't think single hikers should be banned. I think an increased educational effort to prepare single hikers for the dangers they face when they hike alone is enough of a response. I have seen people at Yosemite going MUCH too close to a mother bear and her cubs just so they could get the "perfect" photograph. This is just foolish behavior, and it should not be allowed to restrict the rights of people who are not so foolish.

There has benn one death in the history of the park from grizzly attacks? Sounds like an epidemic to me. Something must be done!

How many dangers would you attempt to eliminate? Maybe we should just get rid of all those pesky animals that might hurt one of the visitors?


than US NPS)

No SOLO Hikers in GRIZZ Habitat, or alternative, CLOSE Grizz Habitat to hikers.

NPS Denali Bias is for the Alaskan hunter & NRA (to please US Congress), so NPS supports

a desire to go kill a GRIZZ merely because the GRIZZ was doing what evolution mandated:

attacking/stalking a threat. All one has to do is study the Science Conflicts at Yellowstone

between fascist superintendents and The Craighead Brother Biologist Team to understand

that NPS management does not truly respect scientific research, and does not want to see

the NPS Culture change from the earlier days when all predators threatened or not were

proudly killed by park hunters/rangers. We see the same lack of respect for wolves when

the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation composed primarily of big game hunters desires to

spend funds on trapping/killing wolves. The human predator is what threatens all wildlife.

Absolutely not. As others have said, total knee-jerk reaction. "Stuff happens" and you cannot regulate the hell out of everything. The word wild is in Wildlife for a reason and people need to realize the risks (along with the many many rewards) of hiking solo (or with a group) in any area (not just the back country!)

I truly hope people "in charge" relax for a second, step back and realize that you just cannot regulate everything to death.

The first fatal mauling in Yellowstone was not a solo hiker. The man was hiking with his wife. Remember?

Thanks for the recall, anonymous. Corrected in the story.

OMG really?? That's like telling someone with one leg that they can't go hiking either. And two people together can still be stupid. In Arizona we have a stupid motorist law. I really think we should have a stupid hiker law as well. Then maybe people would re-think what they're doing if they have to pay for their own rescue.

Point of clarification, folks: The NPS is NOT considering or proposing such a ban. We only raised the question here at the Traveler to get your thoughts on the matter.

So far this year, deer mice have killed more people than grizzly bears in the national parks.


Wouldn't have helped "Grizzly Man and his girlfriend." Being a little more reality based would have. Maybe this is evolution at work. Dang that reality stuff:)!

Should hiking alone be Could the park system attempt to set up a way to link single hikers to others wanting to hike the same area in the name of safety...maybe.

The National Park Service already supplies adequate signage, videos, pamphlets, websites, and humans to disperse required information. How individuals decide to use this information is up to them. People enter the wild animals' home and then think themselves not vulnerable because in THEIR mind they mean no harm to the animals. Well, the animals do not know this, do they? All the signage and instruction in the world is not going to fix this way of thinking. To discipline the multitudes because of the stupidity of the one is wrong in its own right.

I worked and lived in national parks for my career. Over eight years were spent in Yellowstone. I hiked alone on a regular basis. I don't like loud noisy groups that scare off wildlife. I knew I was taking a gamble, but it was one I accepted. It was worth it to me. If a bear were to maul me, my reply would be; a died doing something I loved. Also, there have been a number of times where bears attacked visitors and the NPS did NOT destroy the bears, especially sows with cubs.

should hiking be banned no people need to be more careful and respect the bears space

I think a more needed ban would be on all camping at Curry Village and while we're at it let's do some pro-active banning and ban all camping in trail shelters on the Appalachian Trail. And anywhere else we can find rodent feces.

We should also consider banning all park guests from getting near enough to any of the falls in Yosemite that they might slip and fall into the water. Or from hiking in the fall or winter on Mt. Rainier.

Where would it end? The only logical answer to the question posed is NO.

To me, this question is ultimately about protecting wildlife. Will th bear in Denali be put down?

The bear in Denali, as well as the one thought responsible for the Yellowstone maulings, was put down.

Like Maureen above, I hiked hundreds of miles in Yellowstone alone when I worked there. I was cautious, never approached a bear, hung my food and kept a super-clean campsite. I would hate to see the NPS take the opportunities for this kind of solitude away from future generations of hikers.

I heard an interview with the Superintendent of Denali, Paul Anderson, on NPR. Apparently the hiker killed in Denali did not take those same precautions. My sympathies to his family, but let's not over react to this tragedy.