Nestled deep in the Southeast Alaskan rainforest is a site that has been well-known for generations for its abundance of salmon. And it’s not just people who have been drawn to Anan Creek – it’s a landmark for bears too. Every summer this lush landscape is teeming with fish, bears and other wildlife such as eagles and even a harbor seal or two.
It takes some effort to get to Anan Creek, but that means it isn’t overrun with visitors. In fact, during peak season you’ll need to buy a permit to come here. (These are easy to get from an air carrier when you book a quick floatplane ride from Ketchikan.) Once you arrive, walk the ¼ mile boardwalk to a convenient viewing area, and relax on a bench for unforgettable sights and sounds.
Black and brown bears share this area, showing off their fishing skills, teaching their cubs, and sometimes getting into a turf war or two. Your camera will get a workout as you catch bears lounging on tree limbs, splashing through the creek and fattening up for winter.
Don't underestimate the walk to and from the observation deck. The deep green of the old growth rainforest, the hanging mosses and fresh aroma create a feeling that you’ve just entered a magical land. (Lots of us feel that way wherever we go in Alaska!) You might even share the boardwalk with a passing bear, but no worries: U.S. Forest Service Rangers are available at either end of the trail to help you understand bear etiquette — and your flightseeing company will provide a personal guide too.
If cost isn’t an issue and you really want to see bears doing what bears love to do, then be sure and book a trip to Anan Creek. It’s an exclusive activity that is not sold in bulk. This helps protect the resource, and also provides one of the most satisfying bear viewing experiences in the state.
We recommend several quality floatplane operators for getting there: Carlin Air, Island Wings, and Southeast Aviation. They make the process easy, from booking to helping you get a permit. Be sure to schedule early, as this trip is highly rated and flights can fill up fast.