During a weekend in August, my group of OSU Extension interns and I drove down to Grants Pass for a two-night adventure in Oregon’s beautiful forests. On the first day, we had booked an all-day guided whitewater kayaking and rafting adventure down the Rogue. We met our guide in the morning and he stayed with us all day. He was constantly watching out for our safety, answering our questions, and making sure we had a great time.

The next day, we had a tour through the Oregon Caves National Monument. It was led by a volunteer, who had graduated from Oregon State University in 2018. Because this was a family trip, she had demonstrations and spoke at a level that everyone could understand. She learned everyone’s names, warned us when we might bump our heads, and was incredibly informative.

Later that day, we drove down to California’s Redwood National and State Parks, where we met a park ranger for a free guided tour through Stout Grove. This was another family tour, with people from all over the world joining in. The ranger was incredibly enthusiastic and informative; she spoke to people of all ages and led a very interactive tour.

By the end of the weekend, we had taken three very different tours. The first was more recreational, the second was a paid tour through the caves, and the third was a free tour in the state park. All three were incredible and informative but had very different approaches to their guiding style. It demonstrated how guides need to be able to adjust for the needs of their group members, but also how varied guiding positions are and how their training corresponds to that.

Oregon is home to nearly 30,000 black bears, Ursus americanus, America’s most common bear species. They can grow up to six feet long and weight anything from 125 to 500 pounds. In fact, the name “black bear” is misleading, because they can have brown or gray coats.

If you’re on the lookout for bears in Oregon, you’ll only find black bears, since grizzlies haven’t been seen in the state since the 1930s. They make their home in Oregon’s abundant forests, where they create dens for hibernation, climb up trees, and forage. If you’re really looking to find one, try visiting areas that have been clear-cut and allowed to grow for a few years. They are easier to spot, and they feed on the grass and brush. They also feed on berries, nuts, and fruits; they can eat small mammals, insects, fish, and amphibians, but they are not usually actively hunting.

The best time to spot a black bear is in the middle of the summer, when their breeding season begins. Males and females will be more active, and yearling bears are becoming independent and can be seen roaming around roads and clear cuts. They are also independent animals, so don’t expect to see many in the same place.