If you're going to be a few feet away from a Grizzly, might I suggest you do it at the Montana Grizzly Encounter right off of I-90 on the way to Livingston.

With family in town, we thought it would be fun to head over there and check it out as part of the whole Montana experience.

Honestly, I'd never actually seen a real live Grizzly in person, and it was certainly worth the price of admission.  There's a cute little gift shop with all kinds of bear related items for purchase, plus there are lots of signs that contain all kinds of facts about grizzlies.

Photo by D Wolf

The fact that this majestic creature can be so big, yet so nimble and quick, is truly remarkable.  With some grizzlies reaching 900 lbs and standing up to 9 feet, the fact that they can run at 35 mph is both freighting and mind blowing. Especially when you figure that a thoroughbred horse runs 44 mph.

Bella was out in the area the day we visited and she is about 700 lbs and stands 7 feet tall.  A beautiful bear, she kind of did her own thing, walking around the grounds, getting up on a stump and posing for all the folks to take pictures.  It really was an amazing experience to be that close.

Photo by D Wolf

Ben, one of the employees at Montana Grizzly Encounter was our tour guide and answered all of our questions.  Montana Grizzly Encounter receives no government funding and relies on people coming to the park and donations.

One of the really cool things that MGE does is allow schools and youth groups to come and experience the place for free. This gives kids a chance to learn about the bears in an up close, yet safe environment.

Photo by D Wolf

Montana Grizzly Encounter was founded in 2004 and has received lots of national media coverage for not only their mission to help save endangered grizzlies, but to provide a home for those bears that can't live in the wild.

Montana Grizzly Encounter was home to Brutus the Bear, who passed away in February of this year.  Brutus was one of the most famous bears on the planet, appearing on several television programs, including with Bryant Gumbel and Oprah.

Photo by D Wolf

Montana Grizzly Encounter is open throughout the year and they currently have four grizzlies living there.  If you would like more information about hours or if you would like to donate, you can check out their website grizzlyencounter.org, or click here.

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