Take off on a classic DeHavilland floatplane for a 3-hour excursion packed with excitement. A 25-minute narrated flight takes you soaring over Revillagigedo Island, the 12th largest island in the United States. Everyone gets a window seat with a great view, and you’ll see miles of shoreline and the lush green expanse of the Tongass National Forest stretching out below with its abundance of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and cedar.
Your destination, 40 miles north, is the Neets Bay Salmon Hatchery, built in the early 1980s to enhance salmon returns in Southeast Alaska. The hatchery produces 150 million chum fry each year in addition to other salmon species, like Coho and Chinook. All this fish activity means just one thing to the eagles and black bears of Southeast Alaska – breakfast, lunch and dinner!
When you land at the head of Neets Bay, a guide will greet you for a quarter-mile narrated walk on a well-maintained gravel path through old growth forest to the hatchery. Along the way, you’ll learn about the life cycle of salmon and the behavior of black bear. Arriving to a natural inlet you may view salmon jumping up fish ladders through cascading waters on their way “home” to spawn.
At this point, you’ll probably be seeing black bear along the shoreline, catching as many protein-rich salmon as they can. Watching them fish and interact with each other in a natural setting is an amazing experience – one that will keep your camera busy! The secure, covered bear viewing area allows for up-close observation of the bears feeding in their natural habitat. Follow the cues from your guide, many of whom stay at Neets Bay for the duration of the summer. Keep an eye out, as you may also spot Sitka black-tailed deer, mink, marten and seals, which all populate the area.
After some time at the hatchery, you’ll be escorted back to the floatplane for another amazing water take-off and a gorgeous flight back to Ketchikan.
Know before you go
Booking: Space is limited, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance.
Photos: Check camera settings ahead of time; you’ll want the highest resolution. In the airplane, make sure flash is off so you don’t get glare. If you want to avoid any reflections, shoot with a lens hood and make sure you don’t have a polarizing filter attached to the lens.
Weather: It’s a rainforest, so expect some…rain! Occasionally conditions may warrant cancellation of a flight. Should this happen, Taquan Air will suggest some alternatives for making the most of your day in Ketchikan.
Bears: For precautions in bear country, don’t bring any snacks with you. Neets Bay is a hotspot for black bear during salmon season, but they are still wild animals. While this tour gives you an excellent opportunity for viewing, it’s not guaranteed.
About Taquan Air
With more than 40 years in business, Taquan Air is a dependable, well-respected community asset. Not just another tour operator, Taquan Air is part of the local fabric in Southeast Alaska. Regular year-round flight service and mail and freight delivery keeps small but remote communities connected to each other – and to the rest of the country. For company CEO Brien Salazar, it’s important to be a good corporate citizen, to offer immersive adventures for Alaska travelers, and to provide excellent customer service. Above all, Taquan Air is committed to safety, and has earned the coveted Medallion 5-Star Shield, recognition of its achievements in maintaining the highest quality standards for aviation safety.