Where Is The Best Place To Watch Bears Catching Salmon In Alaska?

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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!

Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

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See The Northern Lights

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Denali Discovery Adventure

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Follow The Fish To Find Alaska’s Bears!

When you ask someone what they imagine when you say “Alaska,” they’ll often say “bears!” Black, brown, or polar – Alaska has one of the densest populations of bears on the planet. And one of the first things most tourists put on their Alaskan bucket list is a bear-watching tour. The best time of year for these tours is when the bears are most active, which is during the summer salmon runs. But where to watch bears catching salmon in Alaska? Read on to learn more about two of the most popular locations to spot bear fishing for salmon!

Salmon run Alaska

Catching Fish In Ketchikan

If you want to know where to watch bears catching salmon in Alaska, the answer is Ketchikan! Ketchikan is also known as the Salmon Capital of the world. The city is located on the southern portion of the Southeast Alaska Panhandle in the Tongass National Forest, at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s famous Inside Passage. Ketchikan is known primarily for salmon, scenery, and a rich Alaskan Native culture.

Ketchikan has access to some of the best places to see both black and brown bears in their natural habitat, feeding on salmon in the many local streams. Here are a few of the best bear-viewing areas in Ketchikan:

  • Anan Wildlife Observatory – located 30 miles southeast of Wrangell, Anan Creek has one of the largest runs of pink salmon in Southeast Alaska. Both brown and black bears can be found at the observatory together, feasting on the spawning salmon that fill the waterways from early July through mid-August.
  • Traitors Cove/Margaret Creek – to get to Traitor’s Cove, you’ll need to charter a flightseeing plane or take a boat! The bear viewing opportunities are best in this location during the month of August, although tours are available all summer long. Enjoy the surrounding rainforest’s ferns, trees, shrubs, and berries as you wait for the bears to appear.
  • Neets Cove – located 40 miles north of downtown Ketchikan, Neets Cove can be reached by air or by boat. The best time to watch bears catching salmon in Alaska at Neets Cove is late July through early September. Black bears flock to Neets Cove because the Neets Bay fish hatchery hosts thousands of returning Coho, Chinook, and Chum salmon beginning in early June.
  • Herring Cove – this is the only bear-viewing location in Ketchikan that is accessible by vehicle. Located at the very south end of Ketchikan, Herring Cove has a large bear population because the Whitman Lake Fish Hatchery is located nearby. Visitors can see bears here from mid-June through September.
bear on alaska

Brown Bear Viewing At Brook Falls

When you ask where to watch bears catching salmon in Alaska, one of the easiest answers is Brooks Falls! Brooks Falls is a waterfall located inside Katmai National Park and Preserve, and is fed by the Brooks River. In late June, sockeye salmon arrive at the mouth of the Brooks River and begin to move upstream where they leap over the six-foot falls to get to the Brooks Lake spawning grounds.

Fun Facts About Brooks Falls:

  • Approximately 200,000 and 400,000 salmon successfully make it upriver each year!
  • Brooks Falls is a quick flightseeing tour from Anchorage. Some tour operators also offer a water taxi service to the location, which features a lodge for extended stays and a campground.
  • Visitors can watch bears fish for salmon from several viewing platforms along the Brooks River, all within easy walking distance of Brooks Camp.
  • About 80 park staff and volunteers monitor the walkways and platforms throughout the camp, to make sure bears and visitors keep a healthy distance from each other.
  • Brooks Falls typically sees around 20,000 visitors a year.

Visitors come to watch the brown bears starting in early July through September because Brooks Falls is where to see bears catching salmon in Alaska. The month of July is the time when tourists will see the greatest concentration of bears at the falls, although many do return in September to feast on the later salmon runs before they begin their winter denning. Brooks Falls is also a popular destination for photographers. In fact, if you’ve ever seen a photograph of a bear holding a fish on top of a waterfall, it was probably taken at Brooks Falls!

No matter what you want to see when you visit Alaska, bear viewing should be at the top of your list. Luckily, booking a bear-viewing tour is easy, and there are many locations where you can safely watch bears in their natural habitat. So, relax and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

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