Photo Credit: Brooks Lodge Bear Viewing

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.

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.

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Bear Viewing Tours

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 18 $990 Day Trip | $1203+ all-inclusive packages Day trip & multi-day excursions

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

Season: May 24 to Aug 23 $4895+ per person 5 Days / 4 Nights

In the best way pos­si­ble. you’re out­num­bered by bears dur­ing your stay at this pri­vate fly-in wilder­ness camp. Fly by char­tered plane from Homer to Alas­ka Bear Camp on a 4‑night, 5‑day all-inclu­sive pack­age. This deluxe back­coun­try camp accom­mo­dates just 14 guests in some of the best bear habi­tat in the world. In con­trast to day trips cater­ing to dozens of vis­i­tors at a time, Bear Camp offers a rare and exclu­sive wilder­ness immersion.

Season: May to Mid September $795+ 6 - 10 hrs

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

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 30 $1045+ per person 6 - 12 hrs

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.

Season: May 10th – Mid September $875+ 6.5 to 10 hrs

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.

Season: May 22 to Sep 01 $795 per person 6-7 hrs

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

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