Anchorage bear viewing tours

Across Cook Inlet from Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula lies a system of rivers and bays that swarm with salmon, drawing ravenous brown bears—sometimes by the dozens—at varying times each summer. The prime season is early May to the end of September.

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Where You Go Depends On The Time Of Summer

Air taxi operators know where these bears will appear and how to get you to the hot spots, so really all you need to worry about is showing up in your hotel lobby. But if you're interested in the different places or are offered a choice of locations, here are three of our favorites.

Big River Lakes (Lake Clark)

(June 10 to mid-to-late August)

This scenic mountain lake system lies at the entrance to Lake Clark Pass. You'll often find two to six bears gathered to fish for salmon where Wolverine Creek empties into Big River Lakes. Because this is one of the newer bear gathering spots, it hasn't yet attracted the big males who jostle with one another. Instead, you'll enjoy more idyllic scenes of females and their cubs. Note that Wolverine Creek has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years and can sometimes be crowded.

Highlights

Wild bear viewing near Anchorage

Salmon fishing nearby

Lodge visits available on some tours

Logistics

50-minute flight from Anchorage, about $725+ for a 6-hour tour

Brooks Falls

(First 3 wks of July, last 3 wks of September)

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, you'll see many large males jaw spar and compete for the best fishing spots. After checking in with the rangers for a briefing on bear etiquette, it's about a mile walk to the viewing platform.

Highlights

World-famous bear-fishing waterfall scenes

Spectacular salmon runs

Logistics

1.5-hour flight from Homer, about $595+ for a 4 - 7 hour tour

2.5-hour scenic flight from Anchorage, about $900+ for a 10-hour tour

Katmai Coast

(May 25 - July 1, Sept 1 - Oct 15)

Precipitous mountains and glaciers serve as a backdrop to wide open tidal flats with 4-foot tall sedge grass meadows. This prime foraging and hunting location often attracts 2 to 3 times the number of bears found at other hot spots and has earned it the reputation as one of the world's best bear-watching locations. It's not uncommon to see 25 to 40 bears at a time clamming, eating sedge, and fishing for salmon.

Highlights

World's largest concentration of brown bears

More remote location with fewer people

Logistics

1 to 1.5-hour flight from Homer, about $595+ for 4 - 7 hr tour

Often out of range for Anchorage tours. Often departs from Homer or Kenai / Soldotna.

Bear Viewing Tours:

Rust's Bear Viewing

Trail Ridge Air Inc. Bear Viewing

Brooks Lodge Bear Viewing

Alaska Bear Camp Overnight Adventures

Alaska By Air: Bear Viewing

Regal Air Bear Viewing

Alaska Air Service: Bear Viewing


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