Watch a Bear Being Swept Over a Waterfall In Yellowstone

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Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: November 9, 2023

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© Antoni Murcia/

Key Points

  • Grizzly bears are fantastic swimmers.
  • Bears paddle with their front paws much like a dog when they swim.
  • Grizzly bears can survive waterfall falls.

In Yellowstone, there exist two bear species: Black bears and Grizzly bears. This area is known for its bear sightings, and many people flock to it to catch a glimpse of these large creatures.

This video starts off with a grizzly bear approaching a river from a rocky area. The onlookers can be heard shouting about where it’s located, in an attempt to help fellow onlookers spot it themselves.

The Grizzly emerges more clearly as it approaches the water and a woman can be heard saying “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah!” as she spots the bear herself.

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The bear takes a small jump into the rushing water, getting submerged for a microsecond, and the crowd behind the cameraman squeals excitedly. The bear continues into the water, trying to swim across the river to the other side.

“Good boy,” says the cameraman as if he were speaking to a domesticated pup.

The currents are quite strong, and you can see that the bear, though able to swim, is coming closer to the cameraman, with the flow of the water, instead of making its way across the river.

The Grizzly continues its swim forward, toward the other side of the river and the cameraman keeps his camera zoomed in on the bear.

“No, he’s not going to go over the waterfall,” he says to someone concerned about that outcome.

The bear continues swimming toward the left as the current continues toward the cameraman. At one point, the bear turns to its right to face the current head-on for a second before turning back to where it came from, apparently trying to figure out the best course of action. It decides it’s too far into the river to turn back now.

And it also seems to know it’s in a bit of trouble.

A Grizzly bear in the wild that seems to be upset!

©Dennis W Donohue/

It continues making its way forward, and you can see a large portion of its back as if it is able to touch the bottom of the river. It looks to be in running mode, trying to make it across before the current pushes it over the waterfall.

“No, he’ll be all right,” says the cameraman again just as the bear gets swept into the waterfall. The cameraman had apparently kept his eye only on the zoomed-in view of the camera, failing to see just how close the grizzly was to the fall.

The bear falls into the plunge pool of the waterfall, where the cascading waters land.

The bear, demonstrating its strong swimming skills, keeps its head above water despite the fall, and continues to swim toward land. The water currents are strong and push the bear downstream even further.

A few quiet moments ensue as the crowd watches the bear struggle a bit. Finally, it catches its footing and approaches a rocky area where it emerges and shakes itself off.

Do Grizzly Bears Know How To Swim?

Yes! Due to their high body fat content and oily coat, Grizzly bears are efficient swimmers.

They paddle with their front paws much like a dog. Bears are often seen swimming between islands that are up to one mile apart. Grizzly bears are great divers too, sometimes diving as deep as 10 feet to catch fish for dinner.

the roar of brown bear

A grizzly bear roars in the water.

©Diego Capone/

Grizzly bears are not as comfortable in the water as Polar bears, and they don’t venture into deep water for recreation, but if they are hungry, they will go out of their comfort zone in search of underwater snacks.

Is it Normal for Grizzly Bears to Swim?

Brown bear in water

Grizzly Bears absolutely love the water and eating fish.

©David Rasmus/

Despite grizzly bears being so large with thick fur coats, brown bears and grizzlies are fantastic swimmers as mentioned above.

Wayne Kasworm, who is a well-known grizzly bear biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, mentions that bears have a high fat content with oily coats. This helps them to stay afloat and be effective swimmers while hunting.

A Grizzly bear has been known to swim about 35 miles (56 km/h) an hour.

Where Do Grizzly Bears Live?

What do grizzly bears eat - leaves

Grizzly bears live in many states in the US.


Grizzly Bears are found in many places in North America such as:

  • Alaska
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Washington
  • Southern Colorado
  • Western Canada

Historically, Grizzlies have been known to roam from Alaska to Mexico and even from the Pacific Ocean to the Mississippi River. However, over the years their numbers have vastly reduced.

How Long Do Grizzly Bears Live?

bear charge

Grizzly bears typically live around 20-25 years.


In the wild, a Grizzly bear, on average, lives to be about 20 to 25 years old. However, in captivity, grizzly bears live to be about 44 years old. In fact, the oldest Grizzly bear that was found in the wild was about 35 years old.

Male Grizzly bears live on average to be about 22 years old, whereas female Grizzly bears live a little longer at about 26 years old.

Polar Bears vs. Grizzly Bears: Which Would Win in a Fight?

The short answer here is a Grizzly bear: however, the answer is complicated. Polar bears are generally more aggressive in nature than Grizzly bears. They’re aggressive enough that there are certain settlements where it is mandatory to carry firearms to scare away polar bears. Not only are polar bears more aggressive, but their diet consists of mostly meat whereas Grizzly bears eat more berries and vegetation.

For the most part, Polar bears and Grizzly bears stay away from each other. However, due to climate change and other environmental reasons, there have been studies conducted showing that Grizzly bears are more socially dominant than Polar bears. Thus, a Grizzly bear would win in a fight with a Polar bear, because the Polar bear would simply walk away.

For the long answer, check out this article: Polar Bears vs. Grizzly Bears: Which Would Win in a Fight?

More Incredible Grizzly Bear Videos You Might Like

Grizzly bears are one of the most impressive and intimidating predators of the North American wilderness. This next fascinating video shows a massive grizzly stalking down a herd of elk 50 members strong! Needless to say, there’s a good reason why these incredible creatures have a reputation for being ferocious.

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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