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Where Is The Best Bear Viewing On Kodiak Island?


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How To See Bears In Anchorage

Anchorage is located in Southcentral Alaska. This bustling city is a hotspot for tourists because it combines the conveniences of the modern world with a rugged, natural environment that caters to outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors to this urban enclave can enjoy museums and cultural activities, as well as comfortable accommodations and five-star dining experiences. But just outside the city limits lie the Chugach Mountains, where adventurous tourists can spot moose wandering along the mountain trails or bears observing nature amid the wildflowers.

Bucket List Bear Tours In Alaska

One of the hottest tourist activities in Alaska is the state’s world-famous bear tours. While bears can be spotted in many locations throughout the state, you can see bears in Anchorage. Anchorage is one of the top bear-viewing destinations in Alaska. Many visitors embark on guided day trips to see bears from Anchorage.

Popular bear-viewing destinations include Katmai National Park and Preserve and Lake Clark National Park, which can be reached by floatplane. Other visitors opt to go even further, for the best bear-viewing opportunities on Kodiak Island! To learn more about how you can watch bears observing nature from your base camp in Anchorage, keep reading!

Awesome Anchorage Bear Viewing Tours

Across Cook Inlet from Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula lies a system of rivers and bays that hosts Alaska’s annual salmon runs. The salmon runs draw brown bears to the area by the dozen all summer long. If you want to see bears in Anchorage, the prime season to visit is early May to the end of September.

  • Big River Lakes – located in Lake Clark National Park, this scenic mountain lake system is a hotspot for bear activity from early June until mid-August. Visitors can often find up to six bears gathered to fish for salmon where Wolverine Creek empties into Big River Lakes. This location is popular with female bears and their cubs. The only downside to Big River Lakes is that it has become a popular spot to see bears observing nature and fishing in recent years, so it can sometimes be crowded.
  • Brooks Falls - many of the most famous shots of bears pouncing for salmon swimming up waterfalls were taken at Brooks River Falls, in Katmai National Park. The world's largest salmon run floods this river and draws up to 15 bears at a time in early June. At the peak of the salmon run, visitors can observe many large males competing for the best fishing spots near the falls. The best time to visit this location is during the first three weeks of July and again during the last three weeks of September.
  • Katmai Coast – the Katmai Coast features the world’s largest population of brown bears. Here, wide open tidal flats, with four-foot-tall sedge grass meadows, are a prime foraging and hunting location for local bears. Plan your trip from May 25 to July 1 or September 1 to October 15 and you may see upwards of 25 bears at a time clamming, eating sedge, and fishing for salmon!

Bear Viewing On Kodiak Island

While it’s easy to see bears in Anchorage or on day tours from the city to popular bear-viewing locations, Kodiak Island is a great option for those willing to travel a little further from the comforts of the city. Kodiak brown bears are famous for their massive size, thanks in large part to the abundance of salmon and other marine-based foods found on the island. In fact, Kodiak bears are the largest brown bears in the world!

These bears evolved into a distinct subspecies from mainland brown bears after becoming isolated on the Kodiak archipelago after the last ice age. Approximately 3,500 brown bears are estimated to live in the Kodiak Archipelago, many of which can be found within the boundaries of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. If you want to experience the best bear viewing on Kodiak Island, the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is the place to visit.

Getting There – An Adventure On Kodiak Island

Most people arrive in Kodiak either by air or by state ferry. Once you arrive, you can explore the road system or book a boat or air taxi to more remote areas. Most local air taxis offer half-day viewing trips. Other options include multi-day bear viewing adventures booked with remote lodges in the area. Some boat charters and kayak outfitters also specialize in bear and wildlife viewing, and special-use cabins can be reserved through the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge office and the Alaska State Parks office in Kodiak. But if you want to see bears observing nature in Kodiak, where is the best place to go?

  • The Karluk Watershed - The Karluk River is a 24-mile stream on Kodiak Island. It begins at Karluk Lake in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and flows north and northwest through Karluk Lagoon to the Shelikof Strait at Karluk. This watershed has one of the highest concentrations of Kodiak brown bears in the world! Most guides suggest this location for the best bear viewing on Kodiak Island.
  • Kodiak Brown Bear Center and Lodge – if you’re interested in a multi-day bear-viewing adventure, this lodge is the perfect escape! The Kodiak Brown Bear Center is owned by the Alutiiq people, who have inhabited Kodiak Island for more than 7,000 years. Spend time in the heart of Alaska’s wilderness, where you can enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking, and bear viewing.
  • Frazer Lake – this viewing location is home to the second-largest sockeye salmon run on the island, and the bears know there’s a feast to be had. During peak viewing times, visitors can see five to ten bears roaming around the falls and fishing for salmon. From June 6 to August 28, visitors can observe female bears, adolescents, and cubs catching fish, grazing on grasses, napping, and playing.

The Best Bear Viewing In Alaska Starts In Anchorage!

If you want to experience bears observing nature, Anchorage is a great place to start. The city is a hub for guided tours to Katmai National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park, and even Kodiak Island. From day trips and fly-in visits to remote lodges to the best bear-viewing locations on Kodiak Island, Anchorage is the starting place for it all. If bears are on your bucket list, Anchorage is the place to be. Book your Anchorage vacation today!

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