Admiralty Island, known by the native Tlingit people as the Fortress of the Bears, is home to an estimated 1,500 brown bears. Pack Creek flats, where the creek emerges to the sea, ranks among the best places on the island to see them. Visiting wildlife watchers can also spot bald eagles, Sitka black-tailed deer, mink, and otters.
A typical day trip from Juneau begins with a floatplane flight from Juneau over Tongass National Forest and the Inside Passage to a landing site on Windfall Island. From there, visitors board kayaks for a paddle through Windfall Harbor to the mouth of Pack Creek. With the highest concentration of brown bears in the world, sightings are common at Pack Creek, making it a popular area for wildlife watching. Lookout towers on Admiralty Island offer a safe place to observe bears as they hunt salmon in the creek or play in the surrounding meadows.
Things to Know Before You Go
Pack Creek is a must-visit for animal lovers, wildlife photographers, and adventure travelers.
Bear-viewing tours typically include pickup and drop-off in Juneau.
Don’t forget to bring rubber boots, rain gear, and layers of warm clothing.
A permit is required to visit the Pack Creek Wildlife Viewing Site between June 1 and September 10.
Book your tour well in advance, as permits are limited and sell out quickly.
The area is rather remote; there are no bathrooms and no cellphone service.
How to Get There
Pack Creek sits 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Juneau. The area is inaccessible by land vehicle and only accessible by floatplane or boat. The most convenient way to visit is by booking a guided bear-watching tour.
When to Get There
Peak season for bear viewing at Pack Creek is early July when pink and chum salmon are returning. The area is open throughout the year, but visitors are required to have a permit during the summer season (June to mid-September).
Tide Pooling at Pack Creek
While the bears are the undeniable stars of the show at Pack Creek, there are entire ecosystems to be observed, sometimes right beneath your feet. On the mud and gravel beach, where the creek meets the ocean, you’ll find tide pools with clams, shellfish, and other intertidal critters that serve as a critical food source for many larger predators, including bears.