7 Night Grizzly Bear Photography Trip in Chilko British Columbia.

Chilko is home to one of, if not the largest concentration of wild grizzly bears.

. . . We limit trips to 9 photographers per week, with 3 photographers per boat.

Limited availability – many of the dates for this season are already booked. We have spots open but in limited availability. If this trip is THE answer to your prayers, you aren’t too late! Get your booking request in now to secure your dates before they are gone.

Uncrowded. Stunning views. Have fun. Get away. Relax. Safely Get the Epic Photo. Personable, knowledgeable and friendly guides. . . and the food . . . wow!

Tsylos Park Lodge wild grizzly bear with cubs resting at Chilko BC

See why John Marriott, and other world-renowned photographers come to Tsylos Park Lodge and capture their epic photos. Many, including John, have returned several times. Why? Because the photography, the views, the abundance of bears in their natural habitat, and the wildlife, are among the best in the world. Visit us and you’ll understand.”

Hello there, I’m Karen McLean, and I’m thrilled to welcome you to Tsylos Park Lodge. Many curious souls often ask me what sets this place apart, and I’m delighted to share the many reasons.  (You can find more details below). With over 60 years of cherishing this land, there are a few things that stand out: its breathtaking beauty, its pristine wild ecosystem that is still only governed by nature and not by man,  the blissful absence of crowds!

It’s truly challenging to find a locale more stunning than the Chilko River and Lake. Guests, having journeyed far and wide, find themselves captivated by the area’s natural splendour. As many of our guests have aptly expressed it:

Chilko is THE BEST PLACE to photograph Grizzly Bears.

What resonates consistently among our guests is the stunning wilderness environment. Tsylos is the one place where the photography, accommodations and food are all superb.

I’ve guided throughout B.C., and nothing compares to the Chilko River for the wildlife. The abundance of grizzly bears makes for incredible photos. I’ve had many Epic Photos here, some of which you can see on this page. The setting, the wildlife, and the Chilko bears are something that can only be fully grasped when experienced firsthand. If you haven’t been here, you need to come and experience it for yourself and get your own epic photos!” Josh Reimer, Head Guide, Tsylos Park Lodge

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Instead of saying much more, I invite you to scroll down and explore this page. You’ll catch a glimpse of the wild grizzly bears and the settings we’re renowned for. I believe it will begin to unveil just how remarkable and unforgettable your journey with us can be.

We are genuinely one-of-a-kind and authentically ourselves.

So, I warmly invite you to join us. Unpack your bags, shut off your phone, and join us for the Tsylos Experience. You’ll love it as much as we do!

Get The Epic Photo . . . 

Chilko is home to one of the largest, if not the largest, population of wild grizzly bears. The area is wild and pristine.

Many people have captured that elusive epic photo, only to replace it with an even more epic one.

What will your’s be?

Tsylos grizzly bear photography tour
Tsylos Park Lodge wild grizzly bear with cub scratching back on a tree in Chilko BC

So many opportunities!

Guests are perpetually amazed at how many opportunities there are to safely photograph the grizzlies without disturbing them.

Some have captured juveniles fighting, or a mother teaching her cubs how to hunt and fish, or feasting on a juicy salmon. One time we laughed watching a seasoned sow named “Big Mama” piling rocks on her head. With so many bears, you never know what you’re going to see.

Grizzly Bear Sows and Cubs

It is common to see sows with COYS (Cub Of the Year), yearlings, and two year olds. We have seen good moms, and some not-so-good moms. The good moms are excellent and protective. A good mom is tough, loving, and a great teacher. Whether she is teaching her cubs how to hunt, fish, or holding them underwater to teach them how to fight, there is no shortage of photos that can be taken. Some cubs have incredible personalities and can be downright silly – like the time we watched them slide down the hill over and over again after an early snowfall.

It’s standard to see an intimate moment of a mom and her cub with a salmon, with the sun at the exact right angle.

If you’re fortunate, you can experience the rare privilege of a sow nursing her cubs. 

Tsylos Park Lodge Wild Grizzy Bear sows and cubs eating fish
Tsylos wild grizzly bear mom with cub on grizzly bear photography tour Chilko BC Canada

Indian Summer—”When the River Turns Red with salmon.”

Why are there so many grizzlies here? It’s because of the salmon.

A very special time of year at Chilko is during “Indian summer”. It is an explosion of autumn colors, an abundance of wildlife, and an orchestra of sounds. With the changing seasons the Sockeye & Chinook salmon return in vast numbers, spawning in the river and lake. There is no more pure symbol of the Canadian wilderness than the grizzly bear, and to experience it in its natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience.   

With the returning of the salmon the Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Herons, Ducks, Ospreys, and other wildlife migrate to the river and lake to feast on the salmon.  It is very common to view bears with a salmon in its mouth, or even better when it explodes into action as the bear chases a salmon across the shoreline, sending thousands of sparkling water drops everywhere. This is a wonderful time to visit Tsylos Park Lodge!

Wild Grizzly Bear catching and feasting on a wild salmon
Tsylos Park Lodge when the river runs red with salmon wild grizzly bear season at Chilko BC
Tsylos Park Lodge Golden Hour for photographing wild grizzly bears at Chilko BC Canada
Bear viewing tour

The Golden Hour and what a day looks like . . .

Your day begins just before daylight. You are greeted with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee or tea, and a hot hearty breakfast of eggs, pancakes, eggs benedict, quiche, waffles, or whatever other dish our chef prepares.

After breakfast, you put on your warm clothes and jackets, gear up and head to the docks to catch the morning light. If you’re lucky, you will capture some pictures of bears in a ghostly river mist.

When the sun moves overhead and the shadows get harsh, we head back to the lodge where you are greeted with a roaring fire and a hot lunch of soup, sandwiches, and baked goods.

There is a break in the afternoon for us and for the bears. There is plenty of time for you to download and backup your pictures from the morning shoot, relax, and take a nap.

When the light starts to soften we head out for the afternoon photo shoot. We catch “Golden Hour” at it’s peak. When the sun is low in the sky, casting warm, soft and golden light across the landscape creates stunning and flattering effects for photography.

. . . Magnificent mountain sunsets, the ambiance of the river, the salmon splashing under the watchful eye of the eagles, the herons, and ducks, the fall colours . . . it’s something you have to experience to truly appreciate the unparalleled beauty of the area.

Exhausted and excited, there is lively discussion in the boat about the different shots as we head back to the lodge. You’ll drop off your equipment in your room and have just enough time to find one or two of your top shots to show off and discuss them over dinner.

We often find our guests warming up by a roaring fire while enjoying hot homemade soup, fresh crusty rolls, and delicious cookies hot out of the oven, or enjoying a drink in an overstuffed chair, or relaxing in the hot tub after an amazing dinner.

Certified Grizzly Bear Tour Guides
Tsylos grizzly bear and rock photography tour Chilko BC Canada

Professional, Experienced, and Certified Bear Guides of BC

Our experience of sixty years living and guiding in the Chilko area, guarantees you a fantastic trip with professional, experienced, and certified bear guides. This area is our home and we look forward to sharing our love of the area and the passion for the bears and the many other species that call this area home. 

Our head guide Josh Reimer, is a Level 3 Guide Instructor with the Commercial Bear Viewing Association. He is one of the very few to hold this designation.

All of our bear photography guides are experienced on the river and have the utmost respect for the area and the bears. This comes out with the care and attention to details during your trip. They will put you in the best spots for photographing the bears without disturbing them or compromising you or the bears’ safety.

There is one guide for each three photographers.

Tsylos Park Lodge Grizzly Bear Photography Guide CBVA Commercial Bear Viewing Association certified

Respecting Chilko, Respecting the Wildlife

We know that it is very important for you to get great pictures of the bears and wildlife. Saying this, we will not do anything that jeopardized the bears and other wildlife’s safety, or yours. So we do practice wildlife photography ethics and do not allow baiting for wildlife, the use of flash cameras, nor will we harass bears with our boats. 

It is important to us to be respectful and to not scare the bears. Each time we approach a grizzly we respond according to the bear’s behavior. Some of the non-resident bears can be can be wary of humans and can scare easily. If they show any signs of being nervous we back off to a distance they are comfortable with, if they are still not comfortable, we leave and go find another bear. 

Grizzly Bears are highly intelligent creatures. They have distinct boundaries, rules and language. We watch their language and respect their rules and boundaries and so far, they respect ours, including our property, horses, and equipment. It can be very compatible if respectfully managed, that is our goal and has been for years without incident.

Grizzly Bear
Tsylos Park Lodge bald eagle taking off

The Lodge

The lodge is right on the river and accommodates a maximum of nine photographers at a time.

It’s a unique location for viewing grizzly bears as it is located adjacent to the main spawning grounds of the sockeye salmon. You can enjoy viewing the bears while relaxing at the lodge.

Our guest cabins and suites are well appointed with nice fluffy towels, Egyptian cotton sheets, and down duvets. Each cabin or suite is unique and has its own private bathroom. The cabins accommodate different group sizes from two to five people.

Guests tell us how much they enjoy hearing about the history and how the lodge was made by hand by us, by my family, and by indigenous people in the area. There was nothing out here when we built it. We felled the logs, dragged them back and built this beautiful lodge. You will feel part of it. We’re proud of it. It is beautiful, cozy and warm.

Tsylos Park Wilderness Lodge

Canada Fly In Bear Photography Trips — All-Inclusive Rates & Package Details

Seven Night Grizzly Bear Photography Package — Sunday to Sunday — USD$6795.00* per person plus taxes.

Season Dates:
. . . fill out the form below and let us know what dates you want. Availability changes as other guests book their trips.

September

October

Package Includes:

  • Return flights from Vancouver to Tsylos (charter aircraft)
  • 7 nights’ accommodations*
  • All meals, including wine with dinner
  • 6 1/2 days of guided bear photography
  • One guide for each three photographers (9 max)

Booking Request

To start the conversation about your next Grizzly Bear Photography Adventure, please get in touch. You can reach us by phone or by filling out the request form.
Toll Free: 1-800-385-6614 (USA and Canada) International: 01-250-483-4368
Young Canadian Grizzly Bears

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See For Yourself…

Want to see more of Tsylos’ Grizzly Bear? Take a look at our Grizzly Bear gallery of photos to help you really understand the amazing experience you’re about to embark on.

see more in gallery >

FAQ Section

What does a typical day look like?
Here’s a typical day:

Your day begins just before daylight. You are greeted with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee or tea, and a hot hearty breakfast of eggs, pancakes, eggs benedict, quiche, waffles, or whatever other dish our chef prepares.

After breakfast, you put on your warm clothes and jackets, gear up and head to the docks to catch the morning light. If you’re lucky, you will capture some pictures of bears in a ghostly river mist.

When the sun moves overhead and the shadows get harsh, we head back to the lodge where you are greeted with a roaring fire and a hot lunch of soup, sandwiches, and baked goods.

There is a break in the afternoon for us and for the bears. There is plenty of time for you to download and backup your pictures from the morning shoot, relax, and take a nap.

When the light starts to soften we head out for the afternoon photo shoot. We catch “Golden Hour” at it’s peak. When the sun is low in the sky, casting warm, soft and golden light across the landscape creates stunning and flattering effects for photography.

. . . Magnificent mountain sunsets, the ambiance of the river, the salmon splashing under the watchful eye of the eagles, the herons, and ducks, the fall colours . . . it’s something you have to experience to truly appreciate the unparalleled beauty of the area.

Exhausted and excited, there is lively discussion in the boat about the different shots as we head back to the lodge. You’ll drop off your equipment in your room and have just enough time to find one or two of your top shots to show off and discuss them over dinner.

When is the grizzly bear photography season?

The grizzly bear photography season opens September 8, and the last week is October 13-20, 2024.

Recommended Wildlife Camera Equipment & Lenses:
It is important to us that you are getting great photographs. The right cameras and lenses will ensure you get the best opportunities during your stay.

We will be photographing wildlife from approximately 50-100 meters away, so please bring photo gear that will cover this range and that will also allow you to photograph scenic and other wildlife. We recommended at least a 300mm lens, and if you have larger lenses, please bring them.

You can expect your largest lens to get the most work. When you reserve the trip we will send you a full list of recommended items to bring including the best lens, clothing, etc. The bigger the lens, the more photos you get.

Each photographer brings with them a water proof boat bag with a selection of lens, backup battery, extra clothing, and any other essential items they may need during the day.

Sometimes instead of boarding the boats, we take a photoshoot from the dock or in the yard, depending on the activity of the bears. Early morning on the river is cold, so excellent outdoor clothing is essential.

Photography passengers can have 75 lbs. maximum luggage weight per person, in soft luggage please.

What is the food like?

If you are a foodie, you will LOVE the food!! It is NOT cafeteria food. It is gourmet prepared by our own private chef. Whether it is the aroma from fresh cut steaks sizzling on the fire, or the incredibly delicious and well-deserved dessert, whatever meal we have, you will love it. We also pair wines with the meals to make it an exceptional experience. We have been told that the place settings with the fresh cut flowers and cloth napkins were exquisite.

And yes, we also cater to special food diets, just let us know when you book your stay!

What to Expect for Temperatures During the Fall Season

Weather at Chilko Lake in September to late October can range from warm and sunny to cold and wet ( 25 c –10 c) with possibilities of heavy winds, rain or snow.  Please pack accordingly.

We are out on the water when photographing so temperatures can be 5-10 degrees cooler than they are. It is best to bring clothing that will keep you warm, dry, and wind proof.  Layers are best as you can put on or take off as weather conditions change during the day.

We recommend clothing in natural colors like green, black, brown, not bright colors like yellow, orange, or red. Clothing that is quiet and doesn’t make loud noises when moving is best.

We will send you a full list of recommended clothing, but also, don’t forget your swimsuit for the Jacuzzi. Sitting in the Jacuzzi at night viewing a million stars or the northern lights is fantastic.

Bear Tour Group Size

Our Grizzly Bear Photography Trips take a maximum of 9 photographers at a time with three guests to one guide. We believe that smaller groups give a more intimate experience with the bears and give everyone a great photography opportunities as well as offering the least disturbance to the bears.

Each boat takes four people, one guide to three photographers. Each photographer has ample room for positioning their tripod and camera.

The Chilko is a wilderness photography mecca.

Simply put, guests often tell us it’s the best place to see bears in Canada. 

What is included?

Your package at Tsylos Park Lodge includes:

  • Round trip private air charter from Vancouver Airport to a nearby landing strip and transportation to the lodge (flights in and out are on Sundays only),
  • 7 nights accommodations, 
  • 6 ½ days of guided photography (one guide per three photographers)
  • All meals including wine with dinner

We are happy to answer any questions while you’re reserving your dates.

What is not included?

Not included in your package at Tsylos Park Lodge are:

  • personal photography equipment, lenses, etc.
  • air charter or ground transfers other than on Sundays if needed, 
  • gratuities,
  • taxes,
  • alcoholic beverages other than wine with dinner,
  • items of personal nature and any lodging or meals not provided at Tsylos Park Lodge.

We are happy to answer any questions while you’re reserving your dates.

What about travel insurance?

All deposits and paid trips through Tsylos or agents are non-refundable.

We do highly recommend getting travel insurance including trip cancellation insurance in order to protect you and the best interests of others travelling with you. Check out our blog on Travel insurance and protecting your trip.  It is impossible to know when an unfortunate event (loss of luggage, photography equipment, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, we have been in business long enough to have seen such things happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. We highly encourage guests to get travel insurance.

What Makes Tsylos Park Lodge and Chilko Special and Unique?

It’s So Beautiful Here! Our guests have travelled the world in search of the best wildlife photography spots, but time and time again, they tell us that Chilko River, right here in British Columbia, is the true gem of them all.

Uncrowded:  We created this with you in mind. Tsylos is in the heart of millions of acres of Canadian wilderness. It is far away from cities and it is not easy to get here by car. While it happens sometimes, it is rare to see other photographers on the river. And the rivers are so large and with so many unknown and secret spots that our guides know, you will feel like the river is just yours for the week.

You Are Right On The Water: While many other places have a “short drive” that can be 10 minutes to an hour, we are right on the river. Walk out the back of the lodge and you’re on the dock. That is super convenient in case you want to come back for a refreshment or a quick nap, or have an early morning coffee gazing at the water.

Expert and Friendly Guides: Our guides are advanced photographers and are as passionate about photography and capturing epic photos as the people that join us. They know this area. They are yours. You have freedom to do what you want.

Friendly Staff: We take great pride in our service. Our people are friendly, helpful and available for you.

You Are Like Family: We are family owned and operated. That’s a big reason why we are constantly told that there is a sense of belonging and camaraderie here. The atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious. We have a lot of successful people from around the world that stay with us, but you would never know it. People feel like they’ve found their tribe with other guests and with our staff. At dinner, we all sit together at the table and eat as one big happy family. You might arrive as a stranger, but leave as a friend and part of our family.

Private and Intimate Experience: The lodge is small and intimate, with a maximum occupancy of fourteen guests total. When Orvis was awarding us the prestigious “Orvis Endorsed Lodge”, they commented how warm it was here. Tyslos Park Lodge is the perfect destination for a group of friends or family looking for a private grizzly bear photography experience.

The Food! . . . Oh my goodness, if you are a foodie, you will LOVE the food!! It is NOT cafeteria food. It is gourmet prepared by our own private chef. Whether it is the aroma from fresh cut steaks sizzling on the fire, or the incredibly delicious and well-deserved dessert, whatever meal we have, you will love it. We also pair wines with the meals to make it an exceptional experience. We have been told that the place settings with the fresh cut flowers and cloth napkins were exquisite. And yes, we also cater to special food diets, just let us know when you book your stay!

Unplugged: You will hear your breath again. Visits are about more than just photography – they’re a chance to escape the stresses of daily life and reconnect with nature. There is no cell phone reception, so no endless messages, texts or emails. It’s just you and nature. Soak up the breathtaking views of the Canadian wilderness, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and let the peacefulness of the surroundings wash over you. We have watched many executives, CEO’s, owners, go from stressed and being wound tight to being totally relaxed and at ease. Watching smiles return to guest’s faces after 2-3 days of being unplugged makes our hearts warm. We do have wifi in the office so you can be reached in case of a dire emergency.

Grizzly Bear Photography

The Solitary Life of a Mountain Grizzly Bear

The grizzly bear is a solitary creature and sometimes it seems a lonely life. Except for a brief time during mating season, the boar will spend his life alone. The sow is also solitary except when she is raising her cubs.  Grizzly bears reach adulthood around five years of age and usually breed in the springtime of their fifth year, sometimes having their first cubs in their sixth season, many times later in her seventh or eighth year.  After the spring breeding season the grizzlies will leave the valley and head to higher elevations to feed on sweet mountain grasses, and some of their favorite plants. As the summer ends they will return to the lower elevations to feed on berries and salmon.  In late October and November they will find or create their winter den where they will sleep through the cold of winter. 

Identifying Grizzy Bears

Identifying a Grizzly Bear

A large hump of muscle and fat on the grizzly’s shoulders easily identifies this species from the black bear. This muscle is used to move boulders to feed on the insects and grubs found underneath. Their shaggy fur comes in many colors–black, cinnamon, silver, red, blond, or a mixture of these colors. A mid-size Canadian bear can weigh up to 1,800 pounds, but most weigh in around 1,000 lbs. When standing on their hind legs, grizzlies can reach heights of up to ten feet. 

What a Grizzly Bear Eats

Grizzly bears are omnivorous and like and eat a wide variety of foods — insects, wild honey, roots, grasses, mountain sorrel, white pine nuts, rose hips, Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, dandelions, fish, moose, elk, deer, sheep, and occasionally other bears. Their diet is ninety percent plants. Like us they need proteins and love fruits and sweets.  In the springtime you can find grizzly bears grazing on sweet spring grasses, they look similar to a horse grazing on grass. They also root like a pig, hunting for roots, grubs, and insects that live in the soil.  If you are out walking along a side hill and see freshly moved boulders, you are in a grizzly bear area. Plan your bear safari today!

Grizzly Bear and Cub Hunting
Bald Eagle Stretching at Chilko BC

A Photographers Wilderness & Wildlife Paradise

The photographers who join us seek out and experience the most beautiful spots worldwide. The Chilko area is a photographer’s paradise. Known for its stunning beauty and many different species of wildlife, it offers you the perfect spot to shoot to your heart’s content. While we are out looking for Grizzly Bears there are other spectacular landscape and wildlife shots to take from Eagles, Osprey, ducks, geese, Mule Deer, Black Bear and salmon.  Everywhere you look, it’s beautiful! With wildlife photo opportunities that can compete with the best locations worldwide, we are happy to provide you with a photography trip of a lifetime. Our bear viewing photography vacations are designed for both the amateur and professional photographer.

Grizzly Bear Photography Tour

Grizzly Bear and Wild Nature Photography Adventures

It’s Easy to get here. Just get yourself to Vancouver, BC to catch your beautiful one hour plane trip to Tsylos. Shut off your phone, enjoy the view, and get ready for one of the most epic photography trips you’ve ever been on. 

Ready to Visit?

Book Your Chilko Adventure Now!

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Tsylos Park Lodge & Adventures

Location: Chilko Lake, BC Canada
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2560 Williams Lake, British Columbia Canada V2G 4P2
Toll-Free: 1-800-385-6614 / Office: 1-250-483-4368
Email: [email protected]

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