Here you'll find one of the most accessible wildlife viewing areas in Alaska. The marsh is a rest area for migratory birds including trumpeter swans, rednecked grebes, golden eyes, and pintails. Also watch for beavers, moose and bald eagles. You may even spot salmon spawning in the deeper water.
From the base of the Homer Spit, take this 4-mile paved trail to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. The trail is in excellent condition and is flat as a pancake for most of its length. The first mile of trail is along a broad estuary that is great for birding. Once you pass the one-mile mark you’ll be riding past fishing boats that are out of the water being worked on as well as a few shops.
You’ll either enjoy a peaceful walk through a secluded and beautiful estuary ripe with birdlife—or have a ringside seat at the annual salmon dipnetting extravaganza, featuring hordes of crazed locals armed with 10-foot poles. The beach road emerges from the forest at a river-mouth lined by dunes, tidally influenced beach, an estuary and broad salt marsh.
If you’re looking for a wild oasis that’s just a 15-minute walk from downtown Anchorage, look no further than Westchester Lagoon (also known as Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park). One of the city’s most popular places, this is where locals come to play, as it has something for everyone. You’ll find access to great trails and wildlife, as well as year-round activities and events for the entire family.
This salmon viewing opportunity is located at Mile 4 of the Portage Highway. Look for a paved lot on south side of road and a Salmon Viewing sign. The viewing platform is handicap accessible and overlooks Williwaw Creek. Spawning sockeye, chum, and coho salmon arrive in late-July and remain throughout early fall with the best viewing in mid to late-August. In addition to salmon, you More...
Visible outside the windows of the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earthquake. Literally overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pastureland became salt flats and marshland. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habitat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are protected in the More...
This bear viewing spot is a bit unusual because it attracts only black bears. A short 26-mile floatplane or boat ride from Ketchikan brings you to a dock where you'll then walk 1.5 miles to the viewing platform. You'll see up to 10 black bears feasting on fish near the fish ladder.
This bear viewing spot is a bit unusual because it attracts only black bears. A short 26-mile floatplane or boat ride from…
This short, paved trail is an hour’s drive north of Anchorage in southern Wasilla. It leads out to a bluff on Palmer Hay Flats—a large stretch of wetlands with all kinds of wildlife. There, a viewing platform overlooks the flats and the Chugach Mountains beyond.
Come visit and you might see up to 15 different kinds of mammals—from beavers to red foxes, flying squirrels, snowshoe hares, and even moose—and several species of birds. Throughout the Sanctuary’s trail system there are 14 interpretive signs, so you can learn how the birds, fish, frogs, and mammals survive in interior Alaska’s tough climate.
Accessed via the 1.5-mile long Lost Lake Trail, Moose Lake is an excellent place to visit with a camera or binoculars. Knock-kneed moose are a frequent visitors to the area and you're most likely to see them if you arrive early in the morning or about an hour before sunset.
Fish Creek is remote, yet road-accessible from the small town of Hyder, which means some human traffic, but not thick crowds. A 3-mile drive or hike from town provides access to an elevated walkway beside the creek that is over ¼-mile long. What makes this area unique is the chance to see brown and black bears in close proximity as they prowl the shallows for spawning salmon.
This river originates from the Lakina Glacier and the southern flanks of Mt. Blackburn, spilling into the Chitina River several miles downstream. Pulling over to the side of the road just after the bridge at milepost 44, one can explore upstream for around a half-mile before getting boxed out by the forest and a narrowing of the river.
Located at Mile 1.0 of the Portage Highway, this site has a short boardwalk trail along several ponds. It is a good site for observing waterfowl that nest and rear their young in the ponds and river channels.
Located at Mile 1.0 of the Portage Highway, this site has a short boardwalk trail along several ponds. It is a good site for…
The bridge marks a mixing zone where fresh river water meets tidal salt water and turns brackish. This creates a blend of water types and habitats and attracts many different birds to areas of open water or the mud-bar edges of islands. Birds forage, loaf, and roost—sometimes in tight clusters of mixed species—making this a good spot for lengthy observations. Wide meadows and broad, lazy bends in the river also attract geese, cranes, shorebirds, and gulls in good numbers, even unusual species like Arctic loon, red knot, black-tailed godwit, red-necked stint, ivory gull, and white wagtail
Up ahead the noise and odor of the Black legged Kittiwakes will soon become apparent. These birds take advantage of the slight depressions in the rocks to build their nests. Their nest is simply some grass and mud glued to the rock wall with their own guano. These birds nest in dense aggregations as a means of protection against birds of prey.
If a Bald eagle or Peregrine falcon More...
A clump of volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean, this 60-acre island is home to nesting puffins, murres, cormorants, and peregrine falcons from May to September. Thousands of birds show up, making it a loud, raucous place. They come because of the island’s location in the middle of food-rich ocean currents and its lack of predators.
You’ll have to get here by More...
This flat trail—a must for birders—takes you past the Juneau International Airport runway and into the famed Mendenhall Wetlands. You’ll start by following the Mendenhall River until you get past the runway. Then the trail veers left, but a smaller footpath follows the embankment above the Mendenhall out to where it empties into Lynn Canal. Follow the main trail for More...
Savannah sparrows love to sing and hide in the grass. However, sometimes they will perch on a fence, small trees or brush piles in this estuarine area. Walk along the beach toward the Kasilof River and look at the large flats to your right. In addition to sparrows you will see arctic terns, numerous herring, mew gulls and migrating shorebirds in the spring and More...
In the fall, people fish for tomcod from the bridge. Deep diving ducks feed in the channel depths of the Bonanza River. Sandhill crane feed on berries, plant shoots, roots, insects, and even small rodents. Red-throated loon and, less commonly, Pacific loon float the waters.
Some of the most valuable seabird habitat in the eastern Aleutians is located about 16 miles from Unalaska, east between Akutan and Unalga islands. The group of five volcanic islands are small, but are important nesting grounds for some species that are rarely seen elsewhere.
Cape Nome is a massive granitic outcrop that is much more resistant to weathering than surrounding lands. Local Alaska Native corporations quarry the rock, which is trucked or barged to large-scale construction projects up and down the coast. Nome’s seawall is built from this granite. Amidst considerable construction or quarry activity, birds continue to nest or roost on the rock faces. The thickly-vegetated slopes attract dense numbers of warbler and sparrow species during the spring nesting season.
As you approach Summit Lakes, look for common loons. Most of the time they are found at the southern end of the lakes near the shore but can be anywhere, so stop at the lodge and road pullouts to look at the lake surface. Moose can sometimes be seen in the marsh areas at the end of the lakes.
Returning south of the road to the airport (Seppala Avenue) and west of the Nome port, the beach front area offers a good view of the marine waters of Norton Sound and the barge docking area built of quarried rock from Cape Nome. Depending on the season, the open ocean view will be punctuated with passing flocks of eiders, brant, scoters, murres, auklets, cormorants, and other seabirds.
An old road bed leading to a Solomon River overlook is a good spot to look for salmon, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling in late July and August. Chum salmon rarely spawn beyond here as dredging took out the pools and riffles they seek. Coho salmon spawn a little farther upriver. Say’s phoebe will launch from its nest on a secluded ledge or crevice on the cliff face to catch insects flying above the river. Northern shrike, harlequin duck, spotted sandpiper, and wandering tattler are seen from this vantage point. In some years, the cliff is occupied by common raven, rough-legged hawk, or other raptors so be careful your presence does not disturb nesting birds. The side road reconnects with Council Road at Mile 41.
A great spot on the Kenai Peninsula to see a large group of seabirds nesting is Gull Island out of Homer. This short three-mile boat ride across Kachemak Bay is great for families. You’ll also find red-faced cormorants, common murres, puffins, eagles, murrelets, sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and even whales.
The mild stroll around Strawberry Hill offers great views, wildlife and some historic flavor. Old military roads cover the area, providing easy walking. Adventurers can bushwhack or scramble short distances for better views of the surrounding area or get up close to WWII-era trenches and the remains of old bunkers.
If you're going across Kachemak Bay, a boat ride or paddle to Gull Island is a must. This is the second largest black-legged kittiwake rookery in Alaska. This means a lot of gulls. Offshore you will see pelagic, double-crested and red-faced cormorants, common murres, marbled murrelets and tufted and horned puffins. Often times you can see bald eagles hunting for birds here which will More...
Above Homer, up East Hill and right on Skyline Drive a mile and a half (a beautiful drive along the bluffs overlooking Homer), watch for the Wynn Nature Center, managed by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. You can stroll in the wilderness among the beautiful flora and watch for wildlife or take a tour guided by a well-informed naturalist.
Here is the local favorite area of our Horned and Tufted puffins. You can tell the two species apart if you remember that "Tough Guys Wear Black." The tufted puffin's body is entirely black with distinctive long yellow "tufts" of feathers on either side of their head. Horned puffins have a white belly and black back. These puffins come to land only to lay their eggs and raise their More...
Also known as Second Priest Rock, Little Priest Rock is a large, pointed rock easily spotted near the entrance to Summer Bay. Birds perch on the top and on shorter rocks nearby (many just above the surface of the water). Little Priest Rock attracts many seabirds and shorebirds, including bald eagles, puffins, Emperor Geese, grebes and loons.
Jutting half a mile into the center of Unalaska Bay, the Dutch Harbor Spit offers a short, sea-level hike for all ages, with beach access, wildlife viewing and birding. The trail follows an old roadbed, which makes for an ideal hiking surface. You’ll want to stop frequently with a ready camera for close-up views of marine mammals on either side of the spit.
Located at the intersection of the Seward and Sterling highways at Milepost 37. This area hosts a myriad of animals, birds, fish, and unique plants. Common loons, bald eagles, and arctic terns share the area with a variety of songbirds and shorebirds like the northern water thrush, golden-crowned sparrow, and the greater yellowlegs. Beavers, river otters, muskrats, and salmon ply the More...
The northernmost lake is called Swan Lake but several lakes in this area may hold a wide variety of birds. Tundra swan with cygnets, Canada goose, sandhill crane, northern shoveler, black scoter, long-tailed duck, greater and lesser scaup, and canvasback frequent the ponds. Red-necked grebe build floating nest platforms. The perimeter of meadow habitat with threads of water drainages are good places to find Pacific golden-plover. Look for signs of beaver and muskrat.
Leaving Cape Nome, the road passes through the coastal grasslands, dunes, and meadows of a long and narrow barrier island environment. This sandy strip of land divides the protected wetlands and lagoon of Safety Sound from the unprotected marine waters of Norton Sound and the Bering Sea. The close proximity of these waters makes this one of the most dynamic and interesting places for birdlife on the road system.
Near the center of town along the beachline, a large satellite communication dish regularly attracts nesting common raven. In early March they start building and refurbishing their nest on the supporting cross-arms. By May the parent birds are standing guard or delivering food to ever-hungry nestlings. The young usually leave the nest in late June or July and become a raucous traveling family with an ever-expanding range.
Watson Lake is a shallow lake that is full of vegetation – just the right spot for dragonflies and other critters. Standing at the boat launch and camping area, look out across the lake for these large flying insects. Red-necked grebes, rusty blackbirds and loons are also found on the lake. Most lakes on the Kenai Peninsula can be a good spot for More...