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 end of September.
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.
- Wild bear viewing near Anchorage
- Salmon fishing nearby
- Lodge visits available on some tours
- 50-minute flight from Anchorage, about $725+ for a 6-hour tour
(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.
- World-famous bear-fishing waterfall scenes
- Spectacular salmon runs
- 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
(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.
- World's largest concentration of brown bears
- More remote location with fewer people
Bear Viewing Tours
Viewing brown bears in their natural habitat is one of the most amazing things you can do in Alaska. If it’s high on your list, book a flight-seeing/ bear viewing trip with Trail Ridge Air, knowing that personable pilots will take you to where bears splash and fish, and where visitors run out of words to describe their amazement.
Take off on a spectacular flight, looking down on the vast Alaskan tundra as you make your way to one of three bear-viewing spots, depending on where you’ll see the most bears. Witness these iconic creatures playing or fishing as you take pictures and learn more about their habits and habitat.
Brooks Lodge offers their own bear viewing tours which are less expensive than most, and give you more time at Katmai National Park to watch bears feasting on sockeye salmon from several viewing platforms. A commercial flight from Anchorage takes you to King Salmon where you’ll switch to a small float plane for a quick 20-minute flight to Brooks Camp. After a brief safety orientation, you can watch bears from several viewing platforms, join the ...more
Alaska bear camp is magically hidden in a rare Critical Bear Habitat in the wilderness of Lake Clark National Park. Instead of hundreds, only 16 privileged guests observe the wonder of up to 50 brown Bears living out their daily drama. Due to the beauty of the location and the exceptional bear population, the deluxe camp, with en suite biffies, beds with mattresses and food flown in daily, was used as a base camp for the Disney movie Bears. ...more
Take off by seaplane for an all-day bear-viewing expedition. Fly past glaciers and volcanoes to the brown-bear country of southwest Alaska. Your Seaplane Bear Safari will take you to Brooks River Falls in Katmai National Park, home of the world ’ s largest salmon run. You can also fly 70 miles southwest of Anchorage to Lake Clark Wilderness Preserve for amazing bear viewing and luxurious accommodations at the Redoubt Bay Lodge. Rust’s, which has ...more
Hop aboard one of Regal Air’s planes departing from Anchorage and after a short, scenic flight you can be watching enormous brown bears swat salmon from Alaska’s rushing waters. Tours visit one of two destinations: Lake Clark National Park or Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park.
With Alaska Air Service you’ll fly from Anchorage to Lake Clark National Park, where they’re a licensed park concessionaire. On the 6- to 7‑hour expedition with an intimate group (there’s a 4‑to‑1 guest-to-guide ratio), you’ll start with a landing inside the park on a beach or in the grasslands to watch bears. Then you’ll travel, unrushed, to other spots in the park. Few operators include multiple locations, but showing you as much of the park’s ...more