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Alaska Bear Viewing Trips
If you are interested in seeing bears during your Alaskan adventure, it is important to ask two questions – when is the best time for bear viewing in Alaska and how to see bears in Alaska. Before you book your flight plans or finalize your trip itinerary, scroll down to learn more about Alaska’s famous bear tours and brown bear viewing in Alaska.
Brown Bear Viewing Day Trips In Alaska
If you want to experience Alaska’s brown bears, there’s nothing more amazing than spending time with them in their own natural habitat! The famed brown bears of Alaska can be found in many regions of the state, including the Southwest, the Interior, and the Inside Passage. Many of these bear viewing locations, although remote, cater to visitors with a variety of tour options. One of the most popular excursions, offered by many tour groups, is the classic fly-in day trip.
Alaska is home to many air service operators, including air taxis and charters. To gain access to the remote backcountry for brown bear viewing in Alaska, you will need to book a day trip with a licensed air service company that also offers guided bear tours. When booking the trip, you can choose between a half-day or day-long trip, which often includes scenic flightseeing as well time spent watching the bears in their natural environment with an experienced guide. Depending on the charter company, your fly-in trip can include anywhere from 1.5 – 3 hours in the air and 2.5 – 9 hours of brown bear viewing in Alaska.
What To Bring On A Bear Viewing Trip
Now that you know how to see bears in Alaska, you will need to think about what to pack for your bear viewing adventure! Even a day trip requires some special gear since you will be outside in a remote location and Alaska’s weather can change quickly – even during the summer months! Here are some items to pack that will make your trip more pleasant:
- Comfortable (and sturdy) walking shoes
- Long pants/long-sleeved shirt (dress in layers)
- Rain pants
- A bagged lunch (no fish!)
- Water bottle
- Camera/video camera
- Any medication you might need for a day in the backcountry
Don’t forget to pack a healthy respect for wildlife and a sense of adventure, too!
When Is The Best Time For Bear Viewing in Alaska?
Now that you know how to see bears in Alaska and what to pack for a brown bear viewing Alaska trip, you need to consider the best time for bear viewing in Alaska. The best time to see bears in Alaska is during the summer months, but even that varies by location. When planning your trip, consider both the month and location so that your bear viewing experience is guaranteed.
Some of the most popular bear viewing tours depart from Anchorage, Kodiak, Homer, and Juneau. Scroll to learn more about the locations that are prime bear-viewing locations during the summer months!
Day Trip #1 – Pack Creek (June-September)
Pack Creek, which is located near Juneau, is in the heart of Admiralty Island. Approximately 1,600 brown bears live on this forested island that is also known as the Fortress of the Bears. During the peak salmon runs in July and August, bears gather along the mudflats near the creek to catch fish. No roads lead to this wilderness area, so the only way to access Pack Creek is by boat or floatplane.
Day Trip #2 – Katmai National Park (July-September)
When you think about brown bear viewing in Alaska, Katmai National Park and Preserve tops the list! More than 2,000 bears live in the park, and many gather at the famous Brooks Falls to catch salmon during the salmon run. The best time for bear viewing in Alaska at Katmai is during the months of July-September, at the height of the salmon run, and before the bears start preparing for their winter denning.
Day Trip #3 – Lake Clark National Park (June-September)
Still not sure how to see bears in Alaska? Book a day trip to Lake Clark National Park! The long coastline provides ample opportunities for coastal brown bears to forage on beach grasses, clams, and fish. The bears at Lake Clark have grown accustomed to people on the gravel viewing platforms maintained by the National Park Service, which creates excellent opportunities for visitors to watch bears in their natural habitat.
Day Trip #4 – Kodiak Island (June-September)
If you go brown bear viewing in Alaska on the Kodiak Archipelago, you will encounter a subspecies of brown bear called the Ursus arctos middendorfii. Approximately 3,500 of these bears roam Kodiak’s islands. The easy access to food in this location means that the Kodiak bears are larger than the brown bears in the Interior region. In fact, the largest Kodiak bear on record weighed more than 1,600 pounds!
Day Trip #5 – Denali National Park (June-September)
The best time for bear viewing in Alaska at Denali National Park is from June through September. In fact, a trip to Denali means a chance to see wolves, Dall sheep, moose, caribou, and bears. Although the population of bears is not as dense as in other locations, you still can see a sow and her cubs walking along a flat riverbed or high alpine pass if you are observant. The National Park Service estimates that 350 bears live in the park on the north side of the Alaska Range.
Bears top the list of Alaska’s “Big 5” wildlife-viewing experiences. And because bears are creatures of habit and tend to visit the same locations in search of seasonal foods year after year, it is easy to book a bear-watching trip! Just remember that the best time for bear viewing in Alaska varies by location. If you plan your trip around the bears’ prime foraging and fishing locations, you will be sure to have an experience that you will never forget.