Animal lovers heading to Sitka should consider visiting Fortress of the Bear, a non-profit bear rescue facility and the largest of its kind in the United States. Focused on educating the public on bears and how to help their populations, Fortress of the Bear takes in orphaned bear cubs and creates a protective and enriching environment for them. The operation was started by couple Les and Evy Kinnear who transformed Sitka’s old pulp mill into a place where baby bears could be cared for. Visitors can watch the bears being fed, observe and photograph bear interactions, and hear the story of each bear and how it ended up at Fortress of the Bear.
Keep in mind this is not like a typical zoo where you see an animal in a cage. Instead, you’ll watch the bears playing with large barrels and tire swings and being active in a large expanse of land. Additionally, the attraction has a non-touristy, non-commercial feel, allowing for a more authentic experience.
Fortress of the Bear is located at 4639 Sawmill Creek Road. A $3 shuttle service to the attraction is offered from the dock. Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for youth aged 7-18; and free for children under 7. They’re open from 9am to 5pm daily during the summer and 10am to 2pm Friday through Sunday from October 1 through April 15. Call 907 747 3032 or 907 747 3550 for more information.