Visiting the Sanctuary

Thousands of visitors come to the VSWS every year to see the black bears that inhabit the area and learn about and view their behavior, habitat and life cycles. Numerous black bears visit the sanctuary each season, including large males, females with cubs, yearlings and sub-adults. From our bear viewing deck visitors can observe bears feeding, playing and interacting with each other as well as in the surrounding meadow and woods.

What to Expect

Upon arrival at the VSWS, visitors follow a gravel road for approximately 1 mile to the sanctuary parking lot. Shuttle buses run every 15-20 minutes from the parking lot to the viewing platform and visitors will receive a brief talk on the history of the sanctuary and the bears.

On the viewing deck, visitors will be free to walk around and view the bears and other wildlife and take photographs. There will be volunteers on deck to answer any questions you may have about the bears. Also throughout the evening there will be educational talks about the bears and the sanctuary.

There is a gift shop on the viewing platform where visitors can purchase souvenirs and gifts, all proceeds from which go back into the sanctuary. Also ask us about becoming a member of the American Bear Association or signing up for private photo opportunities.

Tripods, scooters, pets, video recorders, smoking, food and beverages (other than water) are NOT allowed on the viewing platform. 

Admission Prices – Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary

The admission prices for 2017 are as follows:

  • Adults 18-64: $10
  • Seniors 65+: $8
  • 6-17 year olds: $5
  • 5 and under: Free

Group discounts are also available, rates listed below. Please call our office for more information.

Opening Times and Dates of Operation – 2017

FIRST DAY of operation is Saturday, May 26th, 2018. The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is open Tuesday through Sunday 5pm – 8pm. We are closed every Monday.

LAST DAY of operation is Sunday September 2nd, 2018. We will be CLOSED September 3rd (Labor Day) for the season.

Please note that because of our open viewing deck, we must close during adverse weather that includes lightning. Once we close for the evening we will not reopen the sanctuary.

Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary Private Group Tours

All private group tours are welcome to visit the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary and view the bears, during our regular operating hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 5:00pm until dusk during the months of May, June and July. No coach buses or private group visits (please see below what is defined as a private tour) will be allowed into the sanctuary during August or September.

Private Group Tours are available if your organization or other group would prefer a more personalized experience. Rates and benefits are for access to the viewing platform at the VSWS. Private Group Tours will be allowed during the summer at one group per day Tuesday-Sunday at 4:00 p.m. (May-July).

Private Group Tours Include:

  • Entrance to the Sanctuary during closed hours at 4:00 p.m. – Tuesday through Sunday. We are closed on Mondays
  • The undivided attention of our trained naturalists
  • Special events, lectures, or activities can be arranged depending on the needs or interests of the group (additional charges may apply)

How to Arrange a Group Visit or Private Group Tour


  • To secure a group rate, reservations must be made at least 21 days in advance
  • Group Rates apply for Groups of 20 or More


  • Group Visit during normal visitor hours (5pm – dusk) May, June, July ONLY
    • $6 – Adults 18+
    • $2 – Youth – Ages 6-17
    • FREE – Ages 0-5
  • Minimum 20 people to get group rate
  • Must call 21 days prior to get the group rate

Private Group Tour outside of normal visitor hours (4:00 p.m. start time)

  • Call office for prices (please note refund policy for cancellations)
  • Allow one bus or two vans


Currently, to arrange a private group visit email the American Bear Association at