What Is The Best Time To See Whales And Bears In Alaska?

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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

Many visitors who are planning their first trip to Alaska ask if you can see bears in Alaska in May. The short answer is yes - yes, you can see bears in Alaska in May! However, it is not the best time to see bears in Alaska. Bears are not yet active during the early spring months and may be harder to spot. Bears emerge from their winter hibernation in late March or early April, but during those months they remain closer to their dens, foraging on whatever foliage they can find before the salmon runs begin. Once the salmon runs begin in late June, bears migrate to rivers and waterfalls, where they can easily be spotted by tourists. Salmon runs typically take place in Alaska from late June to early September, at the height of the summer tourist season.

But if you're interested in other wildlife viewing opportunities in Alaska, like whales, read on for more information!

When Is The Best Time To See Whales And Bears In Alaska?

From April to September, wildlife viewing opportunities are plentiful throughout the state of Alaska. Whales, bears, otters, sea lions, eagles, and other marine and land animals can be spotted either during an Alaskan cruise or during a planned excursion with one of the state's many tour operators.

The best time and place to view each animal depends on many factors, including migration patterns, hibernation, and food sources. If viewing wildlife is important to you during your trip., it's a good idea to know when and where you can view the different kinds of Alaskan wildlife.

For example, whales watching is a very popular tourist attraction in Alaska. Humpback whales are one of the easiest whales to spot because they can be found in great numbers from April to November, in the waters of the northern Inside Passage. In fact, approximately 600 humpback whales appear in this area during these months annually! Humpback whale watching tours are offered in Juneau and near Glacier Bay for visitors, and daily boat tours to Tracy Arm rarely return without whale sightings. Other prime whale-watching locations are listed below:

Whale Watching Trip #1: Juneau, Inside Passage

During the peak summer months of June and July, visitors will easily spot humpback whales in the waters of Alaska's Inside Passage.

Whale Watching Trip #2: Ketchikan, Juneau, and Seward

If you take a whale-watching trip from any of these cities, you will be able to spot a killer whale! The best time to see killer whales in Alaska is in May and June.

Whale Watching Trip #3: Southeast and Southern Alaska

The early spring months of April and May bring out the grey whales in the waters near Southeast and Southern Alaska. These whales begin migrating to colder northern Alaska waters in early summer.

Whale Watching Trip #4: Kenai Peninsula

Orca whales can be found in the waters off the Kenai Peninsula. These whales, though much smaller than humpbacks, have been known to pursue seals, moose, and even other whales.

Whale Watching Trip #5: Eastern Gulf of Alaska

Blue Whales inhabit Alaska's open waters, and are most easily spotted by passengers during a cruise. Those lucky enough to see one of these magnificent creatures will most likely do so during the late summer months of July and August.

Best Time To Watch Bears In Alaska

But when is the best time to see bears in Alaska? Although you can see bears in Alaska in May, it is more difficult to spot them and will most likely require a trip into the back country with an experienced guide. Alaska's brown and black bears emerge from hibernation in March, hungry and in search of food. During the early spring, however, they tend to stay close to their winter dens and forage for food.

As spring turns into summer, bears begin moving from the forests to their summer feeding grounds. These locations include the streams, rivers, estuaries, and waterfalls where salmon migrate. Some visitors think that June is the best time to see bears in Alaska. It's the cusp of peak bear season, just before the height of the state's many salmon runs. Grizzly bears can be seen around Lake Clark and Kodiak Island in significant numbers one the salmon-spawning season gets underway. With the return of the salmon, bears are in their element!

However, despite what many visitors say, Alaska's expert bear guides will likely tell you that July is the best time to see bears in Alaska. During the month of July, bears are often seen along the Katmai coast, fishing for razor clams and mating. July is also the peak month to watch grizzly bears fish for salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. Believe it or not, July is also the height of Alaska's whale-watching season, which means that July is truly the best time to see whales and bears in Alaska!

Alaska's Wildlife Viewing Tours

By September, Alaska's short tourist season is already drawing to a close. Still, the later you can go, the better the bear watching will be - especially if you want to photograph them against the state's gorgeous autumnal foliage. You can still see these magnificent creatures in Alaska during the month of September, although it may not be the best time to see bears in Alaska!

However, September is not a good month to book a whale-watching trip in Alaska. During the fall months, whale-watching tours are winding down. Yes, expert tour operators have been know to find whales, however - you'd want to wrap up well against the elements during a boat tour to see whales in September!

So yes, you can see bears in Alaska in May - but it is not the best time to see them at their most active or most interesting. But if it's whales and bears you're after, the best time to see whales and bears in Alaska is from May through September. Planning your trip during that window of time will guarantee you access to both animals, and ensure a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

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