By Nat Hab Traveler Mary Glaser | The Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter

I had so many fond memories from our trip to Katmai National Park, but one of my favorite stories was when we went ashore in Kukak Bay and watched a dramatic soap opera unfold between five brown bears—four male and one female. One of the bears decided to cool off on a stream quite near us. He flopped in the water and went to sleep. The female and one of the males were doing what bears sometimes do: two of the males decided to square off—they stomped around doing a “cowboy” walk, peeing on their feet and spreading their scent on the ground. The smaller bear decided that he really couldn’t take on the bigger bear, so he sat down and stared at the ground in front of him. The bigger bear did a “victory dance” (more cowboy walking and peeing) and then left the vanquished bear alone.

We were quite close to two other males that were starting to eye each other. But when one of them came too close (about 30 feet away), our Expedition Leader Brad Josephs stood up and beat on the lid of his plastic can. The bear glanced at us and then slowly walked in the other direction. Brad asked us if we were frightened at all. None of us was—we knew Brad would keep us safe.

Enjoy some of my favorite grizzly photos from the trip below. It was an adventure we’ll never forget!

Wild grizzly bear mother and cubs in Alaska

Coastal grizzly bear mother and cub in Alaska

Wild brown bear family in Alaska

Wild grizzly bears in Alaska

Brown bear walking in Alaska

All photos © Mary Glaser