From Sitka to Homer to the famous McNeil River, Alaska ranks among the world’s best places to observe bears in the wild. Here’s what you need to know for the best chance of spotting Alaska’s grizzly, brown, and black bears during your stay.
Where to Go
Alaska has dozens of bear-viewing hot spots, offering ample opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts across the state. From Anchorage, it’s possible to take a day trip by airplane to Lake Clark National Park to see bears, while a short flight from Ketchikan takes you to Prince of Wales Island, another excellent viewing spot. Chichagof Island, located outside Hoonah, is home to the largest concentration of bears on the planet. From Homer, take a day trip to either Lake Clark or Katmai National Park for the chance to spot grizzly bears in the wild.
Sitka’s Fortress of the Bear gives visitors the chance to observe rescued wild bears in their natural environment—an excellent option for families or cruise ship passengers with limited time in port.
When to Go
While you can’t control nature, you can control when to take your trip to optimize your chances of seeing bears. Generally, the best time to see bears is between June and September. During the early summer months, bears tend to converge on the coast, while the salmon run in August and September offers an opportunity for the animals to gorge in Alaska’s rivers.
How to Go
Many of Alaska’s best bear-viewing locations are in the state’s wild, remote places. Often, the best way to get there is by bush plane. Luckily, there are bear-viewing day tours from many Alaskan destinations, including Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka, Homer, Ketchikan, Hoonah, and Soldotna.