North American Bear Center

Have you ever seen a bear up close? Meet one of three resident "ambassador" bears at the North American Bear Center, located just outside of Ely. Founded by renowned bear researcher Lynn Rodgers to educate people about these wonderful woodland denizens and dispel common myths, the North American Bear Center is the only black bear and wildlife educational facility of its kind. Visitors learn from the bears themselves about bear behavior, ecology and their relationship with humans.

The North American Bear Center is a nonprofit museum with beautiful indoor and outdoor viewing areas for visitors to watch live black bears. Make no mistake, this is not a zoo. The bears enjoy a 2.5-acre natural, forested habitat complete with areas to forage for food, dens, and even a pond and waterfall. It is home to three resident bears — Tasha, Lucky, and Holly — all of whom came to the center from private situations that made them unable to be released back into the wild. 

The North American Bear Center has a wide variety of daily programs. Allow at least two hours for this unique, world-class experience that your whole family will learn from and enjoy.

  • Theater playing award-winning bear documentaries
  • More than 50 video exhibits of wild Minnesota bears revealing decades of scientific research
  • Brand new "Cub Room" where children play and learn
  • Interpretive nature trails
  • Birding & wildlife viewing
  • Large gift shop (sales help support the North American Bear Center)

The North American Bear Center is located just one mile west of Ely along Highway 169. The center is air-conditioned, accessible and has a large parking lot with plenty of room for RVs and buses. Tasha, Lucky, and Holly are waiting to welcome you!