Hiker survives grizzly attack in Denali National Park after using bear spray

A mother grizzly bear and two of her cubs wander in the road in front of a tour bus returning from the Visitor Center in Denali National Park Alaska
A mother grizzly bear and two of her cubs wander in the road in front of a tour bus returning from the Visitor Center in Denali National Park Alaska (Image credit: R Lolli Morrow)

A hiker has survived an attack by a grizzly bear in Denali National Park after successfully using bear spray to defend himself.

According to a news release from the National Parks Service (NPS), the 55 year-old man is in stable condition after the attack by a grizzly bear and her cubs in the Alaskan preserve. The tourist was hiking alone in the Thorofare Pass area of the park when the attack took place, and sustained puncture wounds to his calf, left ribs, and left shoulder. 

He reported that he was hiking through dense fog when a grizzly with two young cubs charged at him from the bushes approximately 100 feet away. The bear knocked him down, but he was able to deploy bear spray after which the bears departed quickly, and the man was able to walk 1.5 miles to the Eielson Visitor Center to seek medical attention. 

An entrance sign at Denali National Park in Alaska

An entrance sign at Denali National Park in Alaska (Image credit: John Elk)

The NPS has said that due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved since female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised.

Denali National Park spans 9,462 square miles of wilderness and is home to hundreds of black and grizzly bears.

Bear attacks are relatively rare, though this summer has seen five fatalities (opens in new tab) across the country from bear attacks so far which is unusually high. In addition to staying on the trail and remaining visible at all times, bear spray has proven to be an effective measure against bears. If you are hiking in bear territory you should always carry bear spray, and if you are camping overnight, be sure to store your food in a bear canister to avoid inviting bears into camp. You can also check out our guide to what to do if you meet a bear in the wilderness.

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.