It’s not very often you can get up close and personal with bears unless you’re running away from them in the wild (not advised)! At Michigan‘s Oswald’s Bear Ranch, visitors can learn about bears, see recuses in person, and take a tour of their habitats. 

It’s a truly unique experience that is unlike any else, not only in Michigan but across the country. So, if your road trip takes you through the Upper Peninsula, make sure to mark Oswald’s Bear Ranch as a stop!

In this post, we’re going to give you a tour of the ranch, what to see, and how to get there. 

About Oswald’s Bear Ranch

American black bear (Ursus americanus)

The ranch’s biggest claim to fame is it is the largest bear only ranch in the US. While the owners have been dedicated to the protection of the North American Black Bear since 1984, the ranch as it operates today was opened in 1997. 

It has over 240 acres and approximately 40 bears living in four habitats. 

Exploring the Ranch

The primary goal the Oswald’s have for visitors is to wander the ranch and explore the various bear habitats. Four different habitats are set up for each type of bear, one for the males, another for the females, and then two more for the young males, called yearlings, and the young females. 

The habitats have platforms that are elevated, giving you a bird’s eye view of what’s going on and allows you to see everything the bears are doing. 

The most exciting part of Oswald’s Bear Ranch might be the time you get to spend with the adorable bear cubs. For a small fee, you can have your picture taken with one of the Black Bear cubs on site with your phone or camera. That’s something lots of people love to do.

Visitors can spend time in the gift shop, for all those bear related memorabilia. There’s also a small cafe on site that serves snacks, for both humans and the bears. (You can buy apples here to feed the bears). Finally, there are restroom facilities and RV parking on site as well.

The ranch is designed to be walked through, but there are carts available for those with accessibility needs. 

Getting There

The Oswald Bear Ranch is in the UP, the Upper Peninsula, of Michigan. So, it’s closer to Wisconsin and parts of Canada than it is to many of the major cities in Michigan. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s too difficult to visit. From anywhere in Michigan, head to I-75 and go North. In Dafter, Michigan head West on Route 28, which runs across the UP. Oswald’s Bear Ranch is not far off it. 

The drive is no more than two hours from Mackinaw City, MI; 4 hours from Green Bay, WI; and about 4.5 hours from Lansing, MI.

Visiting Hours

American Black Bear Details. The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America.

Oswald’s Bear Ranch is open from Memorial Day Weekend until the end of September each year. It opens up at 9:30 am and closes at either 4 pm or 5 pm depending on the time of year. Visitors are charged $20 by the car for two or more, or $10 for a lone visitor. Ready to plan your trip now? Don’t forget to look at our sister site before you go, for the best lodging rates in the area.