Visiting the Sanctuary

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

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. During the bus ride visitors receive a brief talk on the history of the sanctuary and the bears.

While on the viewing deck, visitors are free to walk around to view and photograph the bears and other wildlife. There are staff and interns on deck to answer questions about the bears. Throughout the evening, there are also educational talks given by our staff and interns 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 the gift shop go back into the sanctuary. You can also sign up for our membership package at our gift shop!

Don’t forget to 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 2021 are as follows:

  • Seniors 65+: $10
  • Adults 18-64: $12
  • 4-17 year old: $5
  • 3 and under: Free

    Reservations required for 20+ people. It is recommended that you buy tickets online for Labor Day week/weekend! Tickets can be bought in advance online, in advance at our Visitor Center OR in person at the Sanctuary the day of. 


Get Admission

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

Black Bear Viewing at the Vince

FIRST DAY of operation is Saturday, May 29th, 2021. The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is open Tuesday through Sunday 5PM – 8PM, with viewing continuing until dusk. We are closed every Monday.

LAST DAY of operation is Sunday September 5th, 2021. We will be CLOSED September 6th, 2021 (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.

Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary Private Group Tours

All large groups are welcome to visit the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary during our regular operating hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 5:00pm until dusk during the months of May, June and July.

Private group tours are available if your organization or group would prefer a more personalized experience. Rates and benefits are for access to the viewing platform at the VSWS. Private groups are allowed to visit during the months of May-July on Tuesday-Sunday starting at 4:00 p.m. We will only allow one private group tour in a single day.  No coach buses or private group visits will be allowed into the sanctuary during August or September.

Private Group Tours Include:

  • Access to the sanctuary during closed hours (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 (3 weeks) in advance
  • Group rates apply for groups of 20 or more

Get Group Admission


  • Group visit during normal visitor hours: 5pm – 8pm, with viewing continuing until dusk (May, June & July ONLY)
    • $10 – Adults 18+
    • $4 – Youth – Ages 4-17
    • FREE – Ages 0-3
  • Minimum 20 people for group rate
  • Must call 21 days prior to receive 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