We had gone to this sanctuary many years ago, back when you parked your car and walked up to the small blind they had built for you to observe the bears from. There were no bathrooms so when our 4 little ones had to go, we got ready to leave. But a mama bear and her cubs had decided to sit and rest right near the parking lot, so the volunteer researchers said we'd have to wait a bit. Finally when the bears showed no signs of moving, they said we could leave 6 at a time. We all walked very quietly and carefully, so as not to spook the mama bear. My husband wanted to take a picture but feared the mama might not realize it was harmless. It was a magical experience that the kids really enjoyed.
Jump ahead about 10 years and we went back.. Now you park in the lot and a shuttle bus takes you up to a ramp that leads you up to the newer, larger blind. There is a gift shop and facilities up there now. But you still get to stand outside and watch the black bears interact with each other in a much more natural setting than a zoo. And they can leave anytime they want to. As the staff explained, to the bears this is a vacation for them, because they are fed regularly by the staff who put out berries and things for them on hollowed-out tree stumps. It's not as primitive as it used to be, but it's still really cool for the kids and helps you teach them about how important it is to preserve nature so that all of the critters living on our planet have room.