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Floatplanes will drop you off here at Big River Lake, which is a 30-minute flight from Soldotna and 50 minutes from Anchorage.
You’ll find both brown bears and black bears here, feeding on sockeye and silver salmon that come to this lake and then spawn in Wolverine Creek. Not only is it interesting that both species of bear are found here, but it’s also a unique spot for watching bears swim, feed, and frolic in the water. Watching the bears fishing in the lake is an unforgettable sight: the salmon pool up in the lake’s shallows, and you’ll see bears go “snorkeling” for dinner, with ears and bodies sticking out of the lake, head submerged, hunting for fish.
Visitors are required to access the area by boat. Pontoon rigs, usually with around five passengers, travel around the lake, while you watch the bears play. The salmon run peaks in mid-July, when it’s not unheard of to have 15 boats on the lake. But you’ll probably be so absorbed in watching and taking photos that you won’t really notice the crowds.
June 15 to August 7
From Soldotna (Natron Air)
From Anchorage (Rust’s Flying Service)