Light Wave

U.S. News

Visitors feeding bear prompts National Park NC location closure

By Jake Beardslee · November 1, 2023

In brief…

  • Eight-mile stretch of Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC closed to protect visitors and young bear
  • Visitors had been feeding bear and trying to hold it
  • Closure in effect "until further notice" during peak fall foliage season
  • Officials remind visitors not to approach bears and provide safety tips
A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina has been temporarily closed because visitors have been feeding and trying to hold a habituated young bear, creating dangerous conditions.  Diego Delso/Wikimedia

A stretch of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina has been temporarily closed to protect both visitors and a young black bear that park officials say has become habituated to human contact and food. The National Park Service announced Monday that an eight-mile section of the parkway near Asheville would be closed “until further notice” after multiple reports in recent weeks of visitors feeding the bear and trying to hold it.

“When people intentionally attract bears with trash and food it can lead to very dangerous situations,” said Superintendent Tracy Swartout in a news release. She said the closure would “give the bear a chance to lose interest in the area before the situation escalates and visitors or the bear are harmed.”

The closed section runs from mile marker 367.6 to 375.6 during the peak fall foliage season. The National Park Service advised that the popular Craggy Gardens area could still be accessed from the north.

Park officials reminded visitors that approaching within 150 feet of a bear or displacing it is illegal. The park service also provided safety tips like slowly backing away from bears, properly storing food, and standing your ground if a bear persists in following you.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs 469 miles from Virginia through North Carolina, is the most visited National Park Service site. Last year it had over 15 million visitors.