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

  • Turn on our gravel road and follow for approximately 1 mile to the sanctuary parking lot
  • Check in at our admissions booth. If you purchased tickets online, give staff your name at admissions
  • Board the shuttle buses! Shuttles run every 15-20 minutes from the parking lot to the viewing platform
  • Enjoy a brief talk on the history of the sanctuary and the bears
  • Walk around our viewing platform to view and photograph the bears and other wildlife
  • Ask staff and interns on deck to answer questions about the bears
  • Listen to one of our educational talks, given by our staff and interns about the bears and the sanctuary. Talks are given a few times each night
  • Shop our gift shop on the viewing platform where visitors can purchase souvenirs and gifts; all proceeds from the gift shop go back into the sanctuary
  • Inquiry about upcoming events, photography opportunities or sign up for a membership
  • Symbolically adopt a bear
  • DON’T FORGET: 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 are as follows:

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

    Reservations are NOT required but 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

We are now CLOSED for the 2023 season!

FIRST DAY of operation is Saturday, May 25th, 2024. The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is open Tuesday through Saturday 5PM – 8PM, with viewing continuing until dusk. We are closed every Sunday other than Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. We are closed every Monday.

LAST DAY of operation is Sunday September 1st, 2024. We will be CLOSED Monday September 2nd, 2024 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 Saturday, 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-Saturday starting at 4:00 p.m.We will only allow one private group tour in a single day.  The benefit of is that you will have the staff and bears all to yourselves! 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 Saturday. We are closed on Sunday and 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 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