The Black Bears of Franconia Notch State Park

You may find yourself driving by the Franconia Notch State Park Tramway (Exit 34B), looking to the great slopes of Cannon Mountain to find, what looks like, black blobs. You look closer and wouldn’t you know it, those black blobs are moving! What you see are Black Bears foraging along the green grassy ski slopes. These bears are somewhat celebrities. Some have even been named by people because they are seen so frequently. Year after year park staff watch the same bears come back to the ski slopes.

(Cannon Mountain ski slopes that Black Bears can be seen on often)
Black Bear on the Slopes of Cannon Mountain (From Cannon Mtn Facebook, June 2016)
Black Bear on the Slopes of Cannon Mountain (From Cannon Mountain/Facebook, June 2016)

When Jillian and I first moved to Franconia Notch State Park, to embark on our great interpretive ranger journey, we went to Echo Lake to relax on the beach. Not only did we get a relaxing day in the sun, but we got the entertainment of watching the bears roam on the ski slopes. My greatest entertainment was seeing how excited everyone on the beach was getting when the bears were in view. We were told that some people may ask, “Are those real bears?” They are as real as they can get!

(View of Cannon Mountain ski slopes from Echo Lake beach)
Momma bear with cubs on the slopes of Cannon Mtn
Momma bear with cubs on the slopes of Cannon Mountain (Courtesy Cannon Mountain)

During the summer, visitors are not allowed to hike on the ski slopes. For a good reason of course, BEARS! Black Bears are not known to be aggressive but I wouldn’t want to take your chances if momma bear is around and I certainly wouldn’t want to disturb them while they are foraging for their food. Even seeing the bears from far, you can’t help but think how large of animals they are. It is well worth anyone’s while to stop and watch the Cannon Mountain ski slopes. If you take a ride on Cannon Mountain’s Tramway you might even be lucky enough to look directly down on one of these magnificent creatures.

View of a black bear from Cannon Tramway
View of a black bear from Cannon Tramway (Courtesy Cannon Mountain)
(Black Bear on the slopes!)

When you come to camp in Franconia Notch State Park at Lafayette Place Campground, remember that bears have an amazing sense of smell and to keep the bears out of trouble, keep cleaned up after yourselves.

When camping at Lafayette Place these are very important guidelines to follow!

Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

Discover the Power of Parks is presented by New Hampshire State Parks in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps and made possible by generous financial support from Eversource. The program offers a look into the natural world through hands-on programming. Interpretive programs focus on connecting participants with nature and building appreciation for New Hampshire's unmatched natural heritage. Programs include guided hikes, interpretive tours, and imaginative environmental workshops for children and families. Programs are offered free to guests with paid park admission fee. No pre-registration is required.

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