We don’t see this every day…But we do see it more often than you might imagine on our zipline canopy tours!

Indeed, pictured here is a black bear cub photographed by guest Stacey Austin-Pauley during our 10 a.m. tour on Monday, July 7.  The cub was spotted as our tour bus made its way past one of the vineyard reservoirs near Trout Creek, peeking out with curiosity from behind the trunk of a great oak. Also see the video below.

“Our tour van slowed down and stopped, and everyone got a good look,” says Margarita Adventures proprietor Karl Wittstrom. “We also see adult bears on occasion, but there’s something special about seeing one of the baby bears.”

Karl says that at least eight adult black bears reside within a mile of Margarita Vineyard on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, where our tours take place.

Bear sightings on our tours tend to come in waves. Sometimes we see them multiple times per week, and other times we can go a month without seeing one. However, we are about to enter the high season for sightings, because as the grapes begin to ripen in August, the bears like to come down into the vineyard to snack on the fruit. They also feed on acorns in the fall, as well as grass and berries and other game.

The bears aren’t all about hunting food, however. Sometimes they just like to have fun…

“Gary, one of our tour guides, saw a black bear swimming in a stock pond,” Karl says. “Up near the old cabins, they climb the water towers. You can see where the dirt in their fur rubs off where they slide back down, and you have to wonder if they’re just playing around on those towers.”

And bears are far from the only wildlife that bring excitement to our tours. Bald eagles, golden eagles, wild turkeys, wild pigs and deer are commonly sighted, depending on the season.

“Wildlife sightings provide exciting insights into our surroundings, and add to the thrills of the zipline experience,” Karl says. “Our tours aren’t just about the ziplines—they’re about experiencing a special place and gaining a renewed appreciation for nature.”