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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
What Bears Live In Alaska?
Ready to See Bears In Anchorage? You're in luck! Alaska is synonymous with Bear Country and is the only state where you can find all three types of North American bears – black bears, brown bears, and polar bears! While black bears are more populous than the other two types of bears, grizzly bears are Alaska’s true rock stars. In fact, Alaska grizzly safaris are one of the most popular activities with tourists visiting this amazing state.
The Bear Facts – Getting To Know Alaska’s Bears
What bears live in Alaska? Well, the three main types are black bears (Ursus americanus), brown bears (Ursus arctos), and polar bears (Ursus martimus). Grizzly bears are a sub-species of brown bears that are found in the interior regions of the state. And glacier bears are a sub-species of black bears that have a distinct blue tinge to their coat. Want to know more about Alaska’s most recognizable mammal? Here are some fun facts about bears:
- Black bears are the most abundant of the bear species found in Alaska. An estimated 100,000 black bears can be found in the state’s forested areas.
- Although black bears often do have a black coat, that is not the most reliable way to identify them! Black bears can be black, blue-black, dark brown, brown, cinnamon-colored, and even white. The best way to identify a black bear is to look for a short, Roman nose and curved claws.
- Like black bears, grizzly bears can be found in Alaska’s forested, inland regions. They range in color from blond to black and tend to be larger than black bears.
- Alaska’s coastal brown bears are the largest bears in Alaska because of the abundant food supply in the areas where they live. Male brown bears can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds!
- Brown bears gather along river banks and coastal estuaries during Alaska’s annual salmon runs. This is one of the best times of the year for visitors to see bears on Alaska grizzly safaris.
- Polar bears live along the Arctic coast, roaming the frozen tundra or scavenging for food among sea ice. You won’t see a polar bear in Alaska’s interior!
Where Can You Go For An Alaska Grizzly Safari?
If your idea of a true Alaska adventure is an Alaska Grizzly Safari, one of the best places to visit in Alaska is Ketchikan. Ketchikan is located at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s Inside Passage – the famous network of waterways that wind through the Alaskan wilderness and are filled with cruise ships from May through October. Ketchikan is an old fishing town, more popularly known as “The Salmon Capital of the World.” And while that attracts crowds of anglers hoping for a big catch, Ketchikan’s salmon also attract brown bears looking for their share of the annual haul, too.
The Best Bear Viewing Locations In Ketchikan
While there are many places to go bear viewing in Alaska, Ketchikan has access to some of the best places to see black bears and brown bears in their natural habitat, feeding on salmon in streams. Many Ketchikan, Alaska bear-viewing areas are only available by floatplane or boat, and some Alaska grizzly safaris will guide you through a temperate rainforest before you reach the bear-viewing area! Here’s a breakdown of the three top bear-viewing locations in Ketchikan.
- Anan Wildlife Observatory – the best place to see bears in Ketchikan is at the Anan Wildlife Observatory. It is accessible only by floatplane and is a 45-minute flight from Ketchikan. Most visitors opt to visit this location with a tour guide because a permit is required. (Guides will handle the permitting process for guests, as well as arrange all transportation to and from the observatory). Anan Wildlife Observatory is one of the few places where brown and black bears can be found together, feeding on the thousands of spawning salmon. The best time to visit is late July through mid-August when the salmon are running. Once you land, your guide will lead you through the rainforest for a half-mile walk to the observation station, which includes a covered viewing shelter and photo blind perched above a rushing waterfall where the bears feed.
- Herring Cove – if you don’t want to charter a floatplane for a Ketchikan bear viewing tour, Herring Cove is your best bet! This bear viewing location is just 20 minutes south of town and is easily accessible by car. To guarantee a bear sighting at Herring Cove, experts suggest visiting at low tide. This is when the bears will splash through the water, fishing for their dinner. Herring Cove is a great place to see bears in their natural environment! You can rent a car, take a cab, or join an Alaska grizzly safari tour to see bears there.
- Traitor’s Cove – located on the western side of Ketchikan, this cove is only accessible by boat. Tour operators in town offer trips to Traitor’s Cove, which is a one-hour boat ride (each way). However, once there, you’ll have a guide help you find bears once you disembark – which makes this one of the more popular Ketchikan Alaska bear viewing tour destinations on the list!
If you want to know what bears live in Alaska, the answer is simple – all of them! Alaska is Bear Country, and with a little luck and planning, you can see black bears, brown bears, and polar bears during your trip. However, look no further than Ketchikan for the ultimate Alaska grizzly safari. Follow the fish, like a true Alaskan, and you will be sure to find bears, too.