Where Is The Best Place To See Bears In Alaska?

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Best Places to See GRizzly Bears In Alaska

Have you ever wondered where the best place to see bears in Alaska is? Bears top the list of Alaska’s wildlife-viewing experiences and can be found at the same locations in search of seasonal foods year after year. Here are a few of the best bear watching locations in Alaska:

  • Pack Creek, near Juneau, is in the heart of Admiralty Island. An estimated 1,600 brown bears live on this island, which is also known as the "Fortress of the Bears."
  • Lake Clark National Park and Preserve's coastline provides coastal brown bears with a plentiful food supply.
  • Kodiak Island is home to its own subspecies of brown bear, the Ursus arctos middendorfi. These brown bears are larger than their grizzly cousins, often reaching 1,600 pounds!
  • Denali National Park and Preserve is home to 350 brown bears, who are active June-September.
  • Wolverine Creek, near Redoubt Bay, has become a popular bear watching destination. Brown bears are abundant along the inlet during mid-to-late summer, when the salmon are returning to spawn.
brown bear cubs in Alaska

Bear Watching in Alaska at Katmai National Park & Preserve

Although Alaska has many amazing locations for visitors to watch bears, Katmai National Park & Preserve is considered to be one of the best places to watch these magnificent creatures in action. Home to an estimated 2,200 brown bears, Katmai's grizzly bears are drawn to the area because of the prolific number of salmon that are found in the Brooks River. In fact, one of the key ways to find bears on a bear watching trip in Alaska is to follow the fish!

Follow the Fish To See Grizzly Bears

The best bear watching trips in Alaska really depend on the time of year. The salmon runs are a key reason bears gather together in such high numbers. If you are looking for bear watching in Alaska that is worthy of a wildlife documentary, pick the spot where the fish are running during your visit.

Katmai and the iconic Brooks Falls are best for bear watching in Alaska in July. A large number of grizzly bears – some weighing in at 1,000 pounds – are drawn to Brooks Falls for its robust salmon population. In fact, if you've ever seen a video or documentary of a bear scooping up salmon by a rushing waterfall, it was probably filmed at Brooks Falls. Visitors can watch the bears in person after walking a short distance on a flat path to a viewing platform near the falls. Visits to the falls are self-guided, with park service rangers on site to help keep things running smoothly.

Grizzly Bear Tour Schedule

Alaska's wild landscapes provide a good habitat for bears. In fact, there are so many bears in Alaska that residents often joke that the bears outnumber the people! One of the easiest and safest ways to view bears in the wild is to sign up for a tour with an experienced guide.

two brown bears playing in AlaskaMany tour options are available to view Alaska's brown bears. Some of the most popular bear-watching tours in Alaska depart from Anchorage, Kodiak, Homer, and Juneau to visit bear-viewing designations like Katmai National Park, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Clark National Park, Denali National Park, and Pack Creek Viewing Area during the bears' active months. But what months are these creatures active? When is the best time to plan a grizzly bear tour and schedule a visit to Alaska?

Bear Watching in Alaska By Month

  • June - bears on the Katmai coast gather to socialize, mate, and feast on ocean fish during the month of June. The long hours of sunlight and warmth during this period supercharge the rich marine habitat, and the grizzly bears are able to take advantage of the plentiful food supply. Since the bears are not competing for food at this time, visitors can witness a wide range of behaviors on a bear watching trip in Alaska in June.
  • July - bears can still be found grazing in the coastal sedge meadows and pursuing clams at low tide during the month of July. As mating season winds down, many of the nomadic males disappear into the surrounding wilderness while females and their six-month-old cubs remain behind to take advantage of the rich food sources along the coastal plain.
  • August - during the late summer, you will want to include a trip to Brooks Falls on your grizzly bear tour schedule. At this time, bears on the coast seem to have one thing in mind - the pink sockeye salmon running upstream from the sea to spawn. August is still a time of plenty for the brown bears, and they make the most of the salmon run to prepare for the long winter months that lie ahead.
  • September - during the month of September, the bears continue to fish while grazing on select vegetation or digging for clams. At this point, they have been fishing since late July and appear healthy, satisfied, and ready for a winter of hibernation. September is a good month for bear watching in Alaska because the foliage has changed and the mellow attitude of the bears presents photographers with phenomenal opportunities to capture images of these magnificent creatures.

Bear watching in Alaska is possible in Alaska's national parks throughout the summer months, with the salmon runs of July offering the best chance for visitors to witness bears gathering in large numbers. Just remember to plan ahead, make reservations, and consider booking a bear watching tour in Alaska with experienced guides to ensure you are visiting the best places to see bears in Alaska during your trip!

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