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Bear Grylls’s Favorite Adventures in National Parks

Bear Grylls has always loved national parks. For his survival TV shows like Man vs. Wild and Running Wild, he has filmed in national parks across the world—and even says his love of adventure started in a national park. 

In his biography Mud, Sweat and Tears, the survival expert wrote about his first-ever mountaineering expedition, where he ventured to Mount Snowdon with a classmate and their PE teacher to climb the mountain peak, camping along the way.

How Not to Camp

The 3,560-foot peak of Mount Snowdon is within Snowdonia National Park, Wales’s largest national park, which covers 823 square miles and encompasses nine different mountain ranges.

Bear wrote about how he and his friend Watty learned an important lesson about camping that first night. They had put up old-style A-frame pegged tents—“which are not known for their robustness in a Welsh winter gale,” he says. At 3 AM, one of the pegs broke, and their tent half sagged down on top of the two young adventurers.

“Both Watty and I were just too tired to get out and repair the first break, and instead we blindly hoped it would somehow just sort itself out,” wrote Bear. When the next peg went, the two were soon “lying in a wet puddle of canvas, drenched to the skin, shivering, and truly miserable.” They learned the lesson to always deal with a problem in the outdoors as soon as it arises and not a moment later.  

Bear says that although they were wet and cold, they were exhilarated to reach the top of Snowdon the next day. He said he always remembers that adventure and that mountains are great levelers but also great things to seek in life. 

Mission: Don’t Get the Prime Minister’s Feet Wet

One of Bear’s most watched adventures was the episode of Man vs. Wild that he filmed in Jim Corbett National Park in northern India’s Uttarakhand Rainforest with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.

When they were there, a storm started up with torrential wind and rain. The duo walked in the forest, and one of the challenges Bear faced was to take the Prime Minister across a river. When they reached the river bank, Bear saw the vessel they had to cross in.

“The crew had partially constructed a small and highly improvised ‘doughnut’ raft from some reeds and an old tarpaulin,” says Bear. “One of the only prior stipulations we had received from the Secret Service team when planning the journey was that under no circumstances could the PM get his feet wet.”

Bear said he had a feeling it would be iconic to take one of the most powerful men on Earth across a jungle river in a storm in a little coracle made of reeds.

“I knew that it would speak to the fact that the wild doesn’t care who we are, that it treats us all the same—and that it bonds us all in tough moments,” he said. Bear couldn’t fit into the raft, but he got it safely across the river with the Prime Minister, and although they were both wet and cold, they breathed a sigh of relief after crossing safely. 

Utah, the Ideal Destination for a Day off

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Image by Tom Gainor

Bear Grylls’ ideal day off would be in the national parks of Utah in the southwest United States. He told Thrillist that he’d want to spend a free day in Moab, because there is so much opportunity for adventure in the area.

One time, after filming an episode of Running Wild, Bear and the crew headed for Canyonlands National Park for a day of adventure. They brought a Polaris off-road vehicle and had a great afternoon driving around the rocks, desert floor, and canyons. They also visited Arches National Park while in the area. 

“I always wanted to try and take the paramotors and go through the amazing iconic Delicate Arch just by Moab,” Bear says in the interview. He found a local paramotoring expert and soon himself and four others were setting off with the engines strapped to their back to fly through the canyons.

“Flying through Delicate Arch was iconic—quite tight, but super cool,” he told Thrillist. “I think that sight of all five of us flying in formation, skimming our toes along the river, through the arch there, it was just great colors and great moments.”

Bear Advice from Bear 

One of the episodes of Running Wild in Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska with former U.S. president, Barack Obama.

While they were walking together through the forest, chatting about the president’s love of the outdoors as a child, they came across some brown bear fur on a log, which was a little unnerving.

“They use this route to come down to the river to feed,” Bear told President Obama. “That means we are just going to be careful,” they both agreed. Bear says that bears are most dangerous when feeding, protecting their young, defending themselves, or fornicating. President Obama asked what to do if you do encounter a bear in the wild.

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Image by Becca (binkabonka on Unsplash)

“They are fast and can climb trees so climbing a tree is no good,” said Bear. “A good rule of thumb is that if you are in their territory, just back off. Keep eye contact but back away out of it. Don’t turn, don’t run.”

“If they intrude on your camp, make yourself look big and be like ‘super bear,’” he says. “Make lots of noise and show you’re not worth the fight and scare them off.” 

Bear says if you make lots of noise along a trail, a bear will know you are coming.

Thankfully the duo didn’t encounter any bears on the trail, though they did find some half-eaten salmon on the river bank that a bear had been feasting on, and they cooked it up for lunch. Yum.

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