Amazing Bear Adventures In Anchorage

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Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

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Can You See Bears Near Anchorage?

Anchorage is an outdoor mecca for the rugged adventurer. Perched on a peninsula that cuts into Alaska's Cook Inlet, the city is a hotspot for tourists visiting the southcentral region of the state. Anchorage has an urban flare and offers visitors the opportunity to explore Alaska’s cultural heritage, but it also offers wildlife enthusiasts the perfect playground to see native wildlife like Alaska bears!

Getting To Know Alaska’s Bears

Alaska is one of the only places in the world where you can see three kinds of bears: black bears (Ursus americanus), brown bears (Ursus arctos, and polar bears (Ursus martimus)! Brown bears and grizzly bears are classified as the same species, although brown bears live near Alaska’s coastal regions and grizzly bears are found inland. A fourth type of bear – the Kodiak bear – is a subspecies of the mainland brown bear, and can only be found on the Kodiak Archipelago. Of the 60,000 wild grizzly bears located in the whole of North America, 30,000 can be found in Alaska! Many of these grizzly bears are near Anchorage.

The Best Places To See Bears Near Anchorage

Some of the best places to see Alaska bears can be accessed via Anchorage! Keep reading if you are wondering where to see bears in Anchorage or how to get to a bear-viewing location from Anchorage! We have a list of Anchorage’s best bear hotspots just for you.

  • The Chugach Mountains – Anchorage sits at the foot of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. Many mountain trailheads are just a short drive from the city’s downtown area, which means this is a great place to get outdoors for some quintessential Alaska activities, like hiking or wildlife viewing. If you are wondering where to see bears in Anchorage, the Chugach Mountains are probably your best bet. This incredible natural area is the closest place for you to see bears near Anchorage. Joining a guided wildlife tour is probably your best option for tracking down one of these magnificent creatures.
  • Katmai National Park and Preserve – if you want to see Alaska bears, Katmai National Park is the perfect place. Katmai is one of the premier brown bear viewing areas in the world. About 2,200 brown bears are estimated to live in this park. To get to the park, you will need to take a short floatplane ride from Anchorage. Visitors can watch bears fish for salmon in the Brooks River from one of four viewing platforms. Day trips to Brook Falls are very popular with tourists. Alternatively, you can book a multi-day stay at Brooks Lodge near the falls and spend as long as you like watching bears.
  • The McNeil River State Game Sanctuary – this sanctuary is located just north of Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula and protects the world's largest concentration of brown bears. The 200-square-mile sanctuary is 100 air miles west of Homer but requires a permit for visitors to visit. The McNeil River State Game Sanctuary is so famous, in fact, that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stages a lottery to dole out permits. Each year, people enter their names to hopefully win one of the 185 permits that are available. Highlights at this bear-viewing spot near Anchorage include seeing 20 or more bears feeding at the falls. Some visitors have reported seeing up to 74 bears at one time!
  • Lake Clark National Park – Like Katmai National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark is only accessible to tourists by air. Three of the most popular areas for bear viewing are Silver Salmon Creek, Chinitna Bay, and Crescent Lake. At Silver Salmon Creek, on the Cook Inlet coast, brown bears can be seen grazing in sedge meadows, fishing, or digging for razor clams on the beach. In recent years, park biologists have counted as many as 219 brown bears within a 54-square-mile area on the coast. There are not many places in the world where you can find as many bears living in such a small area, which makes it a perfect place for wildlife enthusiasts to see Alaska bears near Anchorage.
  • Redoubt Bay - Redoubt Bay is located just outside Lake Clark National Park. Tourists arrive from Anchorage after a 45-minute floatplane ride. This remote location is great for kayaking, wildlife viewing, and fishing. Visitors can view Alaska black and brown bears in their natural habitat on a guided, fly-out Alaska bear-watching trip from Redoubt Bay Lodge, where they can stay for a few nights and enjoy bear-viewing opportunities with resident naturalists.

What Is The Best Time To See Bears In Alaska?

If you want to see Alaska bears during your visit to Anchorage, one of the easiest things for you to do is to follow the fish! The best bear viewing opportunities depend on the annual salmon runs. Salmon are a key reason bears near Anchorage (and in other parts of the state) gather in certain locations in such high numbers. If you are looking for a truly spectacular bear-viewing experience, timing your visit with local salmon runs is key.

Another thing to remember is that bears are most active from mid-May to mid-September. During this time of the year, bears are searching for beach grass, salmon, and shellfish to prepare for the months of winter hibernation. Bears typically hibernate from November to April, so you want to make sure that you visit Alaska during the summer months to see them in action.

A Bear-y Good Time In Anchorage

If you want to see Alaska bears, visiting Anchorage is a great place to start. The city has many tour operators that can fly you to the state’s best bear-viewing locations to see bears near Anchorage for half-, full-day, or multi-day tours. Come for the adventure, and stay for a bear-y good time.

Download all three Alaska tour brochures for tour dates and pricing.