The Best Wildlife Viewing Spots in Angoon
Wildlife on Admiralty Island enjoys the protection of old-growth forest and a virtually untouched landscape. This gives you ample opportunity to watch land mammals, marine mammals and birds in their own natural habitats.
The people of Angoon rightly called this area Xootsnoowú (Kootsnoowoo), or “Fortress of the Bears.” An estimated 1,600 brown bears inhabit Admiralty Island, which is also known for dense populations of bald eagles and Sitka black-tailed deer. It’s not hard to find a bear here. They do come into town occasionally, just ambling down the street. However, your best bet for seeing these massive bruins is at the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area on the east side of the island, where they frolic and feast on salmon in the swift waters of Pack Creek.
With great fishing and even better marine mammal activity, getting out on the water is nearly a requirement. Spend a day jigging for halibut, and you’ll likely see porpoise, sea otters, sea lions and perhaps orca too. Humpback whales never disappoint, putting on a show nearly every day, as they bubble-net feed on krill and breach in powerful acrobatic displays. Danger Point is one of the best locations for watching for humpbacks if you’re on foot. From the beach you can also look out toward Angoon’s red buoy, a popular sea lion haulout.
Look upward and you’ll find seagulls, ravens, and crows, a great population of kingfishers, a wonderful array of different hummingbirds, sparrows, swans, and migrating geese. Eagle nests outline the entire 678-mile coastline of Admiralty Island, which boasts more eagles than exist in the entire Lower 48.
Take a boat ride or kayak up Mitchell Bay toward Hasselborg Lake for splendidly untouched wilderness views, with enough birds that the locals consider this a sort of sanctuary, even though it’s not designated as such. You may also spot the fleet-footed Sitka black-tailed deer among dense stands of trees as you paddle quietly along, or brown bear on the lookout for salmon or trout.
The Tlingit people of Angoon have lived alongside the bears, deer, eagles, ravens, beavers, whales, orca, and salmon for thousands of years. You’ll see many of these incorporated into their culture, as important symbols of life lived in respect for and balance with nature.
Best Wildlife Viewing Spots in Angoon
A two-hour kayak ride up Mitchell Bay toward Hasselborg Lake takes you through a serene, pristine wilderness. You’ll share the area with water birds, eagles, salmon and of course, brown bear. Portage at a U.S. Forest Service cabins to stay awhile and take in more of the incredible Tongass National Forest.
The Cross Admiralty Canoe Route, a 32-mile water trail between Angoon and Seymour Canal, links seven mountain lakes, trails and portages that allow for kayak and canoe travel across the island. It’s an amazing adventure for experienced independent travelers, especially with Forest Service cabins providing shelter along the way.