Sheep & Mt. Goat Viewing at Tern Lake

A popular stop for wildlife viewing in general, this shallow, productive lake in the Kenai Mountains nestles between two immense faces that rise 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the valley floor. The slope to the northeast sometimes draws both mountain goats and Dall sheep into the open, one of the few places where both species overlap. (Other slopes in the Cooper Landing vicinity may also have both species present.) The animals will be visible to the naked eye as white specks on the distant alpine tundra. The goats will typically be seen just below the ridge, with sheep more often spread out on lower slopes. Use binoculars to help find them, but a good spotting scope will probably be necessary to see detail. The lake is also famous for concentrating wildlife, especially migrating birds and nesting waterfowl, and is always worth a stop. You might also see moose, black bears, beavers and river otters.

Getting There

Latitude: 60.532
Longitude: -149.5468

At the junction of the Seward and Sterling Highways about 90 miles south of Anchorage (and 37 miles west of Seward,) Tern Lake once hosted a Forest Service campground. A very popular pullout overlooks the lake from the Seward Highway and features a panoramic view. A day-use picnic area is located in the old campground on the west side of the lake, with parking, pit toilets and lakeshore trails, plus a wooden deck for viewing spawning sockeye salmon in Dave’s Creek.

Driving Directions