PRIVATE & SMALL GROUP TOURS TO THE WORLD'S BEST DESTINATIONS
Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour
Winter Trips To Alaska
See The Northern Lights
Summer Trips To Alaska
Denali Discovery Adventure
Get Outside And Explore Southwest Alaska!
The Southwest region includes the Aleutian Islands, the Yukon and Kusokwim River deltas, and the Alaska Peninsula. This region is a particular favorite of birders, bear enthusiasts, and wildlife photographers. Each year, dozens of rare bird species fly through Southwest Alaska on their migration route to summer in the Arctic. Brown bears are easily spotted in Katmai National Park and Preserve at Brooks Falls or at the McNeil River in Lake Clark National Park. The region’s rivers and bays are teeming with fish, which attracts fishing enthusiasts from around the world. If you’re looking for one of the best Alaska wildlife tours in the state, Southwest Alaska just might be the place for you to start.
How To Get To Southwest Alaska
One of the most important things to remember when you begin planning your Alaska tour and travel vacation is that there are no roads connecting southwest Alaska to the rest of the state! While this sounds complicated, don’t worry. Although there is only limited state ferry service and very few cruise ships visit the region, it’s very easy to fly into Anchorage or Homer and set up a base camp for the rest of your trip. There is scheduled air service to Dutch Harbor, Adak, Kodiak, King Salmon, and St. Paul on the Pribilof Islands from both of these cities for all Alaska tours. And there are many float plane and bush plane operators in both of these cities to get you to private lodges, bear viewing areas, or a remote fishing stream.
Top Three Alaska Wildlife Tours And Activities In The Southwest Region
Southwest Alaska is home to Katmai National Park and Preserve and Lake Clark National Park. Both of these parks are famous for their bear-viewing and Alaska wildlife tours, but there is much more to do and see in Southwest Alaska. Here are the top three activities outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy if they visit this region:
Southwest Alaska Activity #1 – Bear Viewing
Some of the most incredible bear viewing in Alaska is near Anchorage. Alaska wildlife tours visit iconic spots like Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Lake Clark National Park, Redoubt Bay, and McNeil River, where travelers can enjoy a day of unrivaled access to these magnificent creatures. But why are these spots so popular?
- Katmai National Park and Preserve has an estimated 2,200 brown bears living in the park. Visitors are almost guaranteed to see a bear during their trip!
- Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is home to a dense population of bears. Biologists have counted as many as 219 brown bears in a 54-square-mile area on the coast in recent years. Guided tours are especially popular at this park.
It is important to remember that some of these popular bear-watching areas are only open to visitors and photographers in an organized bear tour with a local guide. This is because the parks take the need to protect both the wildlife and the safety of tourists very seriously. It’s also important to remember that some Alaska bears viewing areas issue a limited number of visitor permits exclusively to tour operators. You can’t get there on your own, only with a guide. It pays to avoid disappointment by booking tours well in advance.
Southwest Alaska Activity #2 – Bird Watching
The most popular of all Alaska tours that include wildlife viewing takes place from late April until mid-September when Alaska’s native species are most active. This is also true for bird watching! The summer months are when many birds migrate through to a specific area and settle there for a season. In the fall, however, migratory birds tend to leave while the local birds become more active. Katmai National Park and Preserve is a great place for birders interested in local species. Bird diversity on the Alaska Peninsula is highest in spring, summer, and fall, but many species are year-round residents, even in the interior of the park. Spruce grouse can be found in Katmai’s dense forests, while rock and willow ptarmigan inhabit the park’s more open uplands.
Katmai is a favorite park for birders to visit because many of Alaska’s 564 bird species can be found in the park! Great-horned owls begin nesting there in late winter and bald eagles hunt and scavenge for food in areas where they can find open water. Ravens, gray jays, and magpies also inhabit the area year-round. Even small passerine birds like black-capped chickadees, boreal chickadees, and common redpolls can be found in the park during winter’s subzero temperatures. The park’s habitat is diverse, including alpine tundra, lowland marshes, and shrub thickets – all in the same park. This means a variety of birds that might not usually be found in one place can be found in Katmai, and that alone is enough to attract birders to the park year-round.
Southwest Alaska Activity #3 – Fishing
Alaska tour and travel operators schedule trips to Southwest Alaska, especially for fishing! Whether you plan on visiting the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, Bristol Bay, or the Aleutian Islands, you will be able to find accommodations and fishing charters. An experienced tour operator will be able to list all Alaska tours that include fishing and advise you on what areas are best for catching a particular species of fish. Alaska tour and travel guides can help line up the saltwater or river fishing trip of a lifetime for you.
- Saltwater fishing: the best saltwater fishing is available in Southwest Alaska. Dillingham, Kodiak Island, and the Port of Dutch Harbor are three popular destinations for fishing charters. Dillingham, Alaska is home to the Nushagak River, which is famous for its salmon fishing. This town is a small town, but you can find plenty of places to stay and there are some fishing guides available to help make your trip a memorable one. Kodiak is separated from the Alaska mainland by the Shelikof Strait. This area is absolutely beautiful and the fishing can be amazing. Anglers can target five species of Pacific salmon, halibut, steelhead, and other fish here. Dutch Harbor is off the beaten path, but the town is known for its amazing scenery, commercial fishing and slower pace of life. However, this is very much a do-it-yourself trip, as guides are limited.
- River fishing: Dillingham also has good fishing in the Nushagak River. If you visit Dillingham, you’ll have the chance to fish for five species of Pacific salmon as well as rainbow trout, char, northern pike, grayling, and dolly varden.
- Katmai National Park: this park is an outdoorsman’s dream! Not only can you see bears and a variety of birds during a visit, but you can fish for rainbow trout, arctic char, dolly varden, arctic grayling, lake trout (char) as well as five species of Pacific Salmon in the park’s waterways. Although the park offers tremendous fishing opportunities, it is important to remember to take extra care because of the bears in the vicinity!
- Lake Clark National Park: from the Chilikadrotna River to the Upper Twin Lake, this park’s many lakes and rivers mean tourists can enjoy some incredible fishing. As an added bonus, many of the park’s lodges offer guided fishing tours as part of their Alaska wildlife tours.
Get Outdoors And Enjoy Southwest Alaska
Southwest Alaska is home to some of the best Alaska wildlife tours in the state! From bear viewing to bird watching to fishing charters, there’s something for everyone. Drop in through Anchorage or Homer to begin your Alaska tour and travel adventure in this region, and explore the area with day trips to Redoubt Bay, Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park, or Katmai National Park and Preserve. The Southwest Region may be huge, but you can access these popular locations easily by float or bush plane. So, pack your bags and get ready for an outdoor adventure of a lifetime. Southwest Alaska is waiting for you!