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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Ask A Bear: Can I Cook In An RV in Bear Country?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: My husband and I are coming to visit you in Alaska this summer (yaaaay!!!). We are thinking of driving around and living in an RV during our visit, which means we would need to use our (ahem..) RV restroom from time to time. We would also be cooking a little bit on the RV kitchen stove.

We will definitely try to maintain a low odor profile, but there is a good chance of some smells lingering in our RV. Would you or your friends be attracted to the smells? We love you very much but what can we do to avoid any surprise visits from you?—Aruna Sitaraman, via email

You love me! You really, really love me! Nothing gets me all warm and fuzzy like enthusiasm for my kind. It's reactions like yours that'll help ensure I have a place to roam into the future. But now let's tackle your RV question.

You already plan to reduce your odor profile as much as possible—that's a good start. You'll have to be extra diligent in Alaska, where there are more of me (three kinds!) than anywhere else in North America. This means never leaving food, trash, or other odorous items outside your RV at any time. Cooking is fine; just clean up as much as possible and avoid cooking hyper-smelly foods like fish (there's plenty of great salmon and halibut restaurants in almost every Alaska town).

Store your food out of sight and in contained cupboards. Yosemite is famous for smart problem bears that can break into almost anything, and the rangers there allow you to store food overnight inside hard-sided RVs—provided windows, doors, and vents are closed when you're not around.

It should also help that you'll likely camp in RV campgrounds, which tend to be full of people who make noise and keep me away. That said, there are no guarantees: I may still be attracted to your RV, and I might investigate. Such intrusions are rare, even in Alaska, but they happen. In most cases, I'll scratch  and rub up against your RV for a while before moving on. If that happens, stay inside your RV, wait for me to leave, and be glad you paid extra for insurance.

—BEAR

Got a question for the bear? Send it to askabear@backpacker.com.

READERS COMMENTS

David
Jun 17, 2010

One nice thing about Alaska is that RV camping is permitted at all roadside parks. You might be away from the crowds (but not the bears) there. We've RV camped extensively in Alaska. Try to camp three nights at Teklanika Campground in Denali, the farthest you'll be allowed to drive in (about 30 miles). From there, you can get an inexpensive bus ticket, the "Tek Pass" good for your entire camping stay to go back to Wonder Lake, Eielson Visitor Center, Polychrome Pass, etc.--a wonderful deal!

Jack
Jun 17, 2010

Apparently bears REALLY like the smell of dog food. We had an open container of dog food in a storage compartment of our RV while camping in eastern Arizona. At 1 AM we were awaken to the RV shaking! A black bear had both front paws on the side of the RV trying to get to the dog food. Needless to say we were a bit startled and, when I flipped on the outside light he took off. We put the food in a sealed container and didn't have another visit.

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