Photo Credit: Jim Taylor

Alaska Salmon Viewing Spots

Best Places To See Salmon

Pacific salmon start returning to Alaska during green-up in May and continue to show in some rivers well after leaves have turned in the fall. Gazing down into a channel jammed with fish may be one of the Last Frontier’s most iconic experiences. At the climax of a run, salmon might be arrayed bank-to-bank, like an armada of blushing torpedoes. Further upstream, watching lone fish reach the end of their epic journey can also be awe-inspiring but in a profound and elegiac way. Pairs of decaying spawners swirl and wiggle in crystal water, as females deposit eggs and the males fertilize. Close to death, they have completed one of nature’s great cycles, consuming every bit of strength in their primal mission to reproduce in the waters of their birth. From river mouth to feeder stream, the spawning spectacle is always engrossing.

Jump to: MAP | Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge | Indian Creek | Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform | Tern Lake | Quartz Creek | Russian River | Kenai River | Hatcheries | General Advice | All Locations

Most Popular Spots

See the action of salmon swimming upriver from the salmon viewing deck at the Eagle River Nature Center.

See the action of salmon swimming upriver from the salmon viewing deck at the Eagle River Nature Center.

There are literally scores of good prospects, especially in coastal Southcentral and Southeast Alaska. Pick a link that corresponds to your travel itinerary or destination to find possibilities, and then dial in where to go based on run timing.

Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge – Potter Marsh

20 mins from downtown Anchorage along Seward Highway

Here you'll find one of the most accessible wildlife viewing areas in Alaska with a reliable salmon-watching venue. You’ll often find fish in clear pools right off the 1,550-foot family-friendly boardwalk system. Take the leg that parallels the highway until you reach the channel of Rabbit Creek, from mid-June on. A great place to see giant Chinooks dominate a pool with lesser fish scurrying out of the way.

Indian Creek along Turnagain Arm

30 mins from Downtown Anchorage along Seward Highway

In a classic display of coastal spawning, thousands of pink salmon converge on Indian Creek each July and August. Almost every rising tide from mid-July through August fills this shallow, easy-flowing stream in a wooded park just off the highway. This amazing natural spectacle occurs in one of the safest places to view spawning salmon in the region: No steep banks, crystal clear water and fish so close they could be touched. Bears visit this place, so make noise as you approach.

Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform in Portage Valley

1 hr south of Anchorage via Seward Highway

Located at Mile 4 of the Portage Glacier Highway at the head of Turnagain Arm, this large deck (handicapped accessible) overlooks classic spawning habitat. A bankside trail also winds into the brush with many overlooks that feel wild. These channels feed Williwaw Creek and were enhanced by the U.S. Forest Service decades ago. Spawning sockeye, chum, and coho salmon arrive in late-July and remain throughout early fall with the best viewing in mid to late-August.

Williwaw Creek offers exceptionally good conditions for watching coho, sockeye and chum salmon spawning in action.

Williwaw Creek offers exceptionally good conditions for watching coho, sockeye and chum salmon spawning in action.

Tern Lake

1 hr 45 mins south of Anchorage on Seward Highway

This productive lake at the junction of the Seward and Sterling Highways about 90 miles south of Anchorage is the final destination for a decent run sockeye salmon. (And a very popular wildlife viewing spot in general.) A day-use picnic area located on the west side of the lake features a wooden deck for viewing spawners in the clear Dave’s Creek from mid-July though fall.

Quartz Creek

1 hr 50 mins South of Anchorage on Sterling Highway

To intercept even more sockeyes further downstream, turn onto Quartz Creek Road at Mile 45 of the Sterling Highway and drive two miles into the campground and park near the creek. Angler’s trails and overlooks will open a window on gobs of famous Kenai reds that are almost home, from mid-July into August.

Russian River

2 hrs South of Anchorage on Sterling Highway

Russian River & Russian River Falls The crystal Russian River attracts two world famous runs of sockeye salmon—in mid-June and July-August—that draw thousands of anglers every summer. It may be the most productive salmon sports fishery in the state. It’s also a great place to see fish. Try the angler’s trail below the U.S. Forest Service campground. Or hike two miles to the Russian River Falls, where a deck affords a view of fish leaping up a cataract in a gorge.

Offbeat idea -Kenai River mouth dipnetting harvest

3 hrs south of Anchorage in the town of Kenai

You won’t see spawning pairs finning in clear water, but you might see hundreds if not thousands of sockeyes hauled ashore in this annual meat fishery reserved for Alaska residents. When the reds run strong, the scene becomes astounding and raw—almost primeval—as people use dipnets to yank fish from the current and then strike them with small clubs before bleeding, gutting or filleting them on the beach. There’s nothing else like it. On a sunny weekend, the beach takes on a carnival atmosphere, with venders, dippers dashing in and out of the water, family groups speaking multiple languages, blood, guts and a couple hundred screaming seagulls. From July 10 to July 31, with peak action during the last 10 days. In Kenai, take Spruce Street to North Beach parking. To avoid congestion, park in the city near the Kenai Visitor Center and walk to the beach down Meeks Trail from Alaska Way.

Guaranteed Viewing – Salmon Hatcheries

Marvel at the sight of thousands of fish schooling in gigantic tanks by visiting one of the salmon hatcheries.

Marvel at the sight of thousands of fish schooling in gigantic tanks by visiting one of the salmon hatcheries.

William Jack Hernandez Fish Hatchery

10 mins from Downtown Anchorage

If you want to marvel at the sight of thousands of fish schooling in gigantic tanks, take the self-guided tour inside the state fish hatchery on the banks of Ship Creek east of downtown. The museum-quality observation deck offers intimate views of a complex operation that produces up to six million sport fish each year.

Macaulay Salmon Hatchery

5 mins from Downtown Juneau

The hatchery raises just over 130 million chum, king and coho salmon annually and is designed to allow visitors see the outside operations of an active hatchery. You'll learn about what it takes to raise salmon, the importance of the Alaska hatchery system, and the near shore marine environment that salmon share with other marine life.

Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery

5 mins from Downtown Fairbanks

The Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery stocks arctic char, arctic grayling, rainbow trout, chinook (king) salmon, and coho (silver) salmon in the Fairbanks region. All told, the fish produced by the Hatchery provide fishing opportunities for 137 landlocked lakes located within the Fairbanks, Nenana, Delta and Glennallen regions.

Other Hatcheries

Two state-chartered non-profit corporations operate nine hatcheries that release salmon to augment commercial fisheries in Southcentral Alaska. Two are on the road system (Trail Lakes Hatchery and Gulkana Hatchery), with the others located at remote coastal sites. Depending on staff activity level, visitors can sometimes view salmon in all life stages inside these facilities, through open houses or pre-arranged tours. If you’re in the vicinity anyway, feel free to call to find out what’s possible during your trip.

General Advice

  • To see beyond surface glare into the depths, consider wearing polarized sunglasses—the same thing worn by serious anglers.
  • Caution, Bears: Bears love to eat salmon and may be present whenever there are fish. If you’re venturing away from developed sites or places with other people, watch for half-eaten carcasses or fresh “bear pies” on access trails. Always follow best practices for hiking in bear country. Travel in a group, make noise and carry bear spray.

Show Map

Salmon Viewing Spots

Anchorage

Here you’ll find one of the most acces­si­ble wildlife view­ing areas in Alas­ka. The marsh is a rest area for migra­to­ry birds includ­ing trum­peter swans, red­necked grebes, gold­en eyes, and pin­tails. Also watch for beavers, moose and bald eagles. You may even spot salmon spawn­ing in the deep­er water.

If you want to mar­vel at the sight of thou­sands of fish school­ing in gigan­tic tanks, take the self-guid­ed tour inside the state fish hatch­ery on the banks of Ship Creek east of down­town. The muse­um-qual­i­ty obser­va­tion deck offers inti­mate views of a com­plex oper­a­tion that pro­duces up to six mil­lion sport fish each year.

For glimpses of the big Chi­nook salmon right inside the city’s indus­tri­al heart, check out the hatch­ery-seed­ed run at Ship Creek between late May into June. Hatch­ery-seed­ed coho salmon begin run­ning through the same waters in late July through August.

Thou­sands of pink salmon con­verge on Indi­an Creek each July and August, just about fill­ing this shal­low, easy-flow­ing stream south of Anchor­age along Tur­na­gain Arm from bank-to-bank. This amaz­ing nat­ur­al spec­ta­cle occurs in one of the eas­i­est places to view spawn­ing salmon in the region: No steep banks, crys­tal clear water and fish so close they could almost be touched.

Crys­tal-clear Willi­waw Creek and its bank-side trail sys­tem in Portage Val­ley at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers excep­tion­al­ly good con­di­tions for watch­ing spawn­ing in action. Coho, sock­eye and chum salmon con­verge on the creek as it winds through the brushy flats begin­ning in mid-August, with some late-arriv­ing fish still present after first frost in the fall.

Portage Val­ley south­east of Anchor­age at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers so many poten­tial adven­tures that you might have to tow a trail­er loaded with gear to sam­ple them all. What will you find here? Bik­ing, hik­ing, pic­nick­ing, fish­ing, pad­dling, wildlife view­ing, poten­tial ice­berg sight­ings — plus a nat­ur­al his­to­ry vis­i­tor cen­ter packed with inter­ac­tive dis­plays about the ecosys­tem of the val­ley and Prince William Sound. It’s like an outdoor  ...more

This 64.3 acre park has lots to offer with open fields, ski­jor­ing trails, a sled­ding hill, one soc­cer field, fish­ing dur­ing des­ig­nat­ed sea­sons, and a fish view­ing plat­form that is best dur­ing the mid to late summer.

The dri­ve from Anchor­age to the sea­side com­mu­ni­ty of Seward begins with two hours of spec­tac­u­lar views as you pass between the dra­mat­ic shore­lines of Tur­na­gain Arm and the jut­ting peaks of the Chugach Mountains.

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed at Mile 1.0 of the Portage High­way, this site has a short board­walk trail along sev­er­al ponds. It is a good site for observ­ing water­fowl that nest and rear their young in the ponds and riv­er channels.

Salmon work hard to make their annu­al appear­ance at the Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter’s salmon view­ing deck, leap­ing the aban­doned beaver dam, among oth­er obsta­cles. Over the years, this view­ing deck has sup­port­ed hun­dreds of pho­tog­ra­phers cap­tur­ing moose, bears, eagles, and unpar­al­leled views.

Cooper Landing

Learn how the fish are raised from small alevin to fry and beyond to smolt size before being released into sur­round­ing lakes and bays. Depend­ing on the fish cycle, there may or may not be fish to view, so please call ahead. If there are no fish to be seen, you’re wel­come to look at a small pho­to gallery and learn about the fish pro­duc­tion cycle, and under­stand why hatchery’s play such an impor­tant role in keep­ing our fish population…  ...more

This wildlife sweet spot is worth a vis­it. The Russ­ian Lakes Trail begins off the access road to the Russ­ian Riv­er Camp­ground in Coop­er Land­ing, at mile­post 52 of the Ster­ling High­way. Get off-the-beat­en path, hike two miles to the falls and enjoy the imme­di­ate reward of spec­tac­u­lar salmon viewing. 

This is a day use site that offers 13 pic­nic sites with tables, a fish view­ing plat­form, water, toi­lets, an infor­ma­tion board, and fire grates.

Great sock­eye salmon obser­va­tion site, espe­cial­ly in late July and ear­ly August. At oth­er times of year it offers a mod­er­ate walk up to Ptarmi­gan Lake that’s great for fam­i­lies and fea­tures lots of bird life.

This salmon view­ing loca­tion includes an all-acc­ces­si­ble view­ing plat­form over­look­ing the creek as well as view­ing oppor­tun­ties along Ptarmi­gan Creek trail. Sock­eye salmon will be in the creek from late July to ear­ly Octo­ber with the best view­ing in mid-August. Vehi­cle park­ing is in the day use area inside Ptarmi­gan Creek Campground. 

View­ing is easy due to the all-acc­ces­si­ble view­ing plat­form and stream­side trail. Sock­eye, chum, pink, and sil­ver salmon will be vis­i­ble August — November

Thou­sands of sock­eye salmon migrate up Hid­den Creek each year in late July and ear­ly August. With salmon come bears to feed on them. As you dri­ve through this area, you may be able to spot bears at the Ski­lak Road cross­ing of the creek near the Hid­den Lake Camp­ground turnoff. 

Look for the Russ­ian Riv­er Camp­ground (entry fee required) and park in the day-use park­ing areas with­in camp­ground facil­i­ties. A two mile well-main­tained grav­el trail leads to the view­ing plat­form above the falls or to the angler trail along the riv­er. Use cau­tion for high den­si­ties of brown and black bears who are fish­ing for the same Sock­eye and Coho salmon you are look­ing for. Salmon are in the riv­er mid June through Sep­tem­ber with the…  ...more

From the grav­el pull­out on the west side of the high­way, an easy 14 mile walk to the Sock­eye salmon view­ing plat­form awaits (not ful­ly acces­si­ble). Salmon are in the creek from mid-July to ear­ly August with the best view­ing in late July. 

Sounds Wild: Trees Need SalmonAs you dri­ve toward Sol­dot­na you will see the Kenai Riv­er on your left. This riv­er has thou­sands of salmon spawn­ing in it each year. Most­ly sock­eye or red salmon but also coho or sil­ver salmon, chi­nook or king salmon and pink or humpy salmon. After these salmon die, they float down­stream and are deposit­ed along the river­bank where they decom­pose and pro­vide food to the river­side plants.More Information   ...more

Turn on Quartz Creek Road and pro­ceed 2 miles to Quartz Creek Camp­ground. The stream is adja­cent to the pic­nic area and a trail expands Sock­eye and Coho salmon view­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties upstream or down­stream. Salmon view­ing takes place from late July to ear­ly Octo­ber with best view­ing in ear­ly August. 

Fairbanks & Interior

The Ruth Bur­nett Sport Fish Hatch­ery stocks arc­tic char, arc­tic grayling, rain­bow trout, chi­nook (king) salmon, and coho (sil­ver) salmon in the Fair­banks region. All told, the fish pro­duced by the Hatch­ery pro­vide fish­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for 137 land­locked lakes locat­ed with­in the Fair­banks, Nenana, Delta and Glen­nallen regions.

The Chi­na Riv­er flows through Fair­banks and is home to both king and chum salmon. This fish weir on the Chena is used by state and fed­er­al agen­cies to count the num­ber of return­ing salmon.

The Gulka­na Hatch­ery is a state-owned hatch­ery estab­lished in 1973 by the ADF&G. By 1984, Gulka­na became the largest sock­eye fry pro­duc­tion facil­i­ty world­wide, with egg vol­umes of 26 million.

Inside Passage

Hump­back whales, sea otters and har­bor seals are scat­tered through­out the Beard­slees, with whales and otters most like­ly to be seen on the west­ern side of the islands — near­est to open water. Watch the shore for black bears and moose. Black oys­ter­catch­ers – black shore­birds with bright red-orange bills – nest on the islands. Look for har­le­quin ducks, pigeon guille­mots, pelag­ic cor­morants, arc­tic terns, mar­bled mur­relets and large flocks of  ...more

If you want to see salmon, eagles and black bear in their nat­ur­al habi­tat, the view along Gun­nuk Creek can­not be sur­passed. Sil­ver Spike Bridge over the creek is a good view­ing point, or you can make your way to the near­by bear view­ing plat­form at the old Gun­nuk Creek Hatch­ery. Some call Gun­nuk Creek eagle high­way” for the large num­ber of eagles here when the fish are running.  ...more

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.

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.

Pel­i­can Creek Bridge is just a few min­utes from Pelican’s har­bor. This is a great place for view­ing salmon that are head­ed upstream to spawn­ing sites. Check it out in July and August for the best view­ing opportunities.

Fish Creek is remote, yet road-acces­si­ble from the small town of Hyder, which means some human traf­fic, but not thick crowds. A 3‑mile dri­ve or hike from town pro­vides access to an ele­vat­ed walk­way beside the creek that is over ¼‑mile long. What makes this area unique is the chance to see brown and black bears in close prox­im­i­ty as they prowl the shal­lows for spawn­ing salmon.

This bear view­ing spot is a bit unusu­al because it attracts only black bears. A short 26-mile float­plane or boat ride from Ketchikan brings you to a dock where you’ll then walk 1.5 miles to the view­ing plat­form. You’ll see up to 10 black bears feast­ing on fish near the fish ladder.

Have you ever won­dered how ani­mals get to be where they are? For instance, how did Sit­ka black­tail deer get to remote islands in south­east AK or how do fer­al cat­tle find them­selves on dis­tant Aleut­ian Islands? In the case of the for­mer, they swam there and in the case of the lat­ter, they were brought as a source of food by the mil­i­tary and set­tlers. In each case, the species has man­aged to estab­lish itself and you would hard­ly know there was a…  ...more

Juneau

Steep Creek is a For­est Ser­vice fish view­ing site, with runs of sock­eye and coho salmon that start in mid-July and con­tin­ue into Octo­ber. The site is very easy to vis­it. It is adja­cent to the Menden­hall glac­i­er vis­i­tors’ cen­ter about 10 miles from down­town Juneau. There are no per­mits, fees or restric­tions for the vis­i­ta­tion. There’s a 13 mile loop trail, part of which forms an ele­vat­ed boardwalk.

From the boat ramp park­ing lot, walk along the dri­ve­way to Sen­a­tor Gruening’s home. The path ends where Peter­son creek cas­cades down into Lynn Canal. It’s an amaz­ing place for wildlife view­ing when the salmon are running.

Closed for 2021. The hatch­ery rais­es just over 130 mil­lion chum, king and coho salmon annu­al­ly and is designed to allow vis­i­tors see the out­side oper­a­tions of an active hatch­ery. You’ll learn about what it takes to raise salmon, the impor­tance of the Alas­ka hatch­ery sys­tem, and the near shore marine envi­ron­ment that salmon share with oth­er marine life. 

Kenai / Soldotna

Slikok Creek pass­es under Kali­fon­sky Rd. and fish can be seen spawn­ing near the cul­vert on both sides of the road. This is a crit­i­cal habi­tat area and you are asked not to wan­der along the banks of this very sen­si­tive stream. All view­ing can be done next to the road. Best salmon view­ing months are June and early-July. 

Walk out to the board­walks along the Kenai Riv­er, learn about river­ine habi­tat and the salmon life­cy­cle, and wit­ness the time­less dance of hunter and hunt­ed, of fish and fish­er. One year-round res­i­dent here will impress you with their win­ter sur­vival skills.

This park is the con­flu­ence of the Kenai and Moose Rivers. Take a break at this recre­ation site named for the Eng­lish author Iza­ak Wal­ton who wrote The Com­pleat Angler. Look for the infor­ma­tion­al sign to learn about the Moose Riv­er Archae­o­log­i­cal Site. You will also find a host­ed camp­ground and boat launch. There’s excel­lent fly-fish­ing in this area.

Thou­sands of sock­eye salmon migrate up Hid­den Creek each year in late July and ear­ly August. With salmon come bears to feed on them. As you dri­ve through this area, you may be able to spot bears at the Ski­lak Road cross­ing of the creek near the Hid­den Lake Camp­ground turnoff. 

Difficulty: Easy

The trail is half a mile long and takes you through a mature birch for­est that is car­pet­ed with dev­il’s club and water­mel­on berry plants. It’s an easy walk­ing, ide­al for small chil­dren, and ends at a small camp­ing area on a slight bluff that over­looks Bish­op’s Beach and Bish­op Creek.

Stretch your legs here and check out one of the favorite rest stops for thou­sands of Kenai Riv­er salmon on their jour­ney home. We’ll also seek out giant trum­peter swans, red-necked grebes, and of course, fish­ers of anoth­er species — humans. Here at the con­flu­ence, the two rivers reveal their source waters in a very clear visu­al demonstration.

Ketchikan

In the town that boasts of being the Alaskan salmon cap­i­tal of the world, here’s where you can see the salmon in action — hun­dreds of thou­sands come through every sum­mer. This spot, right next the library and at the end of Creek Street, offers a prime view of the crowds of salmon on their way to spawn.

Learn about the life cycle of salmon at this non-prof­it hatch­ery, where thou­sands of fish are cul­ti­vat­ed and tagged annu­al­ly before being released into area lakes, rivers and streams. You can watch (and even feed) lit­tle ones swim­ming against the current.

At the Eagle Cen­ter, you can get up close to 10 res­cued birds, includ­ing a gold­en eagle, great-horned owls and even a turkey vul­ture. One pair of bald eagles has mat­ed for life and occa­sion­al­ly has babies to show off. Phone: 8002525158, 9072285530. Hours May-Sep: 8am‑4:30pm (dai­ly) Win­ter: By appoint­ment Admis­sion $10/​adult, $5 kids ages 2 – 11.  ...more

Kodiak

Dur­ing August and Sep­tem­ber, the ditch on the left of the Chini­ak High­way at MP 29.0 becomes an active spawn­ing area for salmon.

Difficulty: Easy

The trail par­al­lels Island Lake Creek, which tum­bles steeply through the woods over falls and boul­ders. This is a good place to see dip­pers, as well as for­est birds such as win­ter wrens, var­ied thrush, chick­adees, nuthatch­es and creepers.

From this bridge on Kodi­ak’s Chini­ak High­way it’s pos­si­ble to see spawn­ing salmon in August and Sep­tem­ber. There’s also poten­tial to see brown bears here dur­ing the late sum­mer as they feast on salmon, espe­cial­ly around dawn or dusk. The road on the south side of the bridge leads to Bell’s Flats.

Hun­dreds of pink salmon run up this creek dur­ing the sum­mer. You can watch them at the cul­vert as hun­dreds of them hur­ry past on their way to spawn. Peak times for view­ing is mid-July to late-August.

Difficulty: Easy

This is a very scenic and easy hike with great bird­ing and flower view­ing. Dur­ing April and ear­ly May this is a prime loca­tion to view migrat­ing gray whales. Check out all of the rocky out­crops, beach­es and off­shore waters for birds. Look for bank swal­lows nest­ing in the sea cliffs and har­bor seals loung­ing on the rocks.

Look for salmon and bald eagles here.

McCarthy

Stop at Long Lake, at mile 45.2, to see a pop­u­lar spot for sock­eye salmon to spawn. Every year, 18,000 sock­eye salmon swim up the Chiti­na and Cop­per Rivers to spawn in Long Lake. This is a very unique run, salmon begin enter­ing the lake as late as Sep­tem­ber and spawn until April. 

Nome

The Nome Riv­er is a good place to see salmon. Pink and chum salmon spawn in August, coho are usu­al­ly present in August and Sep­tem­ber. Sock­eye salmon, Arc­tic grayling, and Dol­ly Var­den may be present. Look for Arc­tic terns fish­ing, har­le­quin duck and red-breast­ed mer­ganser rid­ing swift water, spot­ted sand­piper or wan­der­ing tat­tler at water­line, and north­ern shrike in the wil­lowed riv­er edges.

The Blue­stone Riv­er is unlike oth­er riv­er cross­ings along the Teller Road because it flows north­ward to Imu­ruk Basin rather than south to Nor­ton Sound. The riv­er is deeply incised as it cuts through steep moun­tains, cre­at­ing steep, rocky slopes and cliffs. Rough-legged hawk, gold­en eagle, gyr­fal­con, and com­mon raven may nest on near­by rock cliffs

Head­ing north, an access road on your right leads to a lake­side camp­ground that is main­tained by the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment. It has a sandy beach, pic­nic tables, bar­beque pits, a trash bin, and a restroom that is open dur­ing snow-free months. There is no run­ning water.

The Sinuk Riv­er is the largest riv­er cross­ing on the Teller Road, and the mag­ni­tude of the val­ley, riv­er chan­nels, crag­gy moun­tains, and rolling tun­dra — all in one panoram­ic vista — is an impres­sive sight. The bridge is a reli­able spot to see salmon on their return upriv­er. Birdlife tends to be those species attract­ed to flow­ing water and grav­el bars, islands, and thick veg­e­ta­tion clus­tered in some sec­tions of the river. 

Descend­ing into ter­rain increas­ing­ly dom­i­nat­ed by trees and wil­lows, you are more like­ly to see a moose than a muskox. In late sum­mer griz­zlies feed on spawn­ing chum salmon below the Fox Riv­er bridge. Salmon car­cass­es also attract red fox, gulls, and com­mon ravens. Both aban­doned and active beaver lodges and dams are found along the Fox Riv­er drainage. Dol­ly Var­den, Arc­tic grayling, and chum and pink salmon can be seen from the bridge.  ...more

Shov­el Creek pass­es under the road through a dou­ble cul­vert before it enters the Solomon Riv­er. A year-round spring that feeds the creek near the road keeps the water from freez­ing in win­ter. This attracts dip­pers, beaver, mink, and otter and encour­ages the growth of cot­ton­woods. The spring-fed creek also offers a mod­er­ate amount of spawn­ing habi­tat for pink, chum, and coho salmon in late July and August. Dol­ly Var­den are present but few Arctic  ...more

An old road bed lead­ing to a Solomon Riv­er over­look is a good spot to look for salmon, Dol­ly Var­den, and Arc­tic grayling in late July and August. Say’s phoebe will launch from its nest to catch insects. North­ern shrike, har­le­quin duck, spot­ted sand­piper, and wan­der­ing tat­tler are also seen. In some years, the cliff is occu­pied by com­mon raven, rough-legged hawk, or oth­er rap­tors so be care­ful your pres­ence does not dis­turb nest­ing birds. 

Sock­eye salmon migrate up Pil­grim Riv­er to Salmon Lake between late July and mid-August, and some con­tin­ue up the Grand Cen­tral Riv­er as far as the bridge. Griz­zlies are fair­ly com­mon in late sum­mer when spawned-out salmon and ripe berries are abun­dant. Bird­ers watch for har­le­quin duck, red-breast­ed mer­ganser, Amer­i­can dip­per, Bluethroat, yel­low war­bler, Wilson’s war­bler, and Arc­tic warbler.

The steep road grade on either side of Crip­ple Riv­er gives a good overview of the thin thread-like riv­er that runs through the val­ley. Gold min­ing activ­i­ties occurred in the upper trib­u­taries, as evi­denced by the road and hor­i­zon­tal ditch lines. Look for har­le­quin ducks pad­dling swift riv­er cur­rents in late August or Sep­tem­ber, and Pink Salmon swim­ming upstream to spawn.

The road par­al­lels a some­what nar­row creek val­ley, mak­ing it easy to see water and shore­birds asso­ci­at­ed with flow­ing water as well as the wide vari­ety of song­birds, such as thrush­es, war­blers, and spar­rows that hang out in dense shrubs clus­tered at creek’s edge. Arc­tic grayling, and some­times pink salmon, are found here.

The Pil­grim Riv­er cross­ing brings you close to groves of cot­ton­wood that are abun­dant in this sec­tion of the val­ley. Look for spawn­ing salmon, moose, and a vari­ety of birds.

A grav­el pit pond may con­tain local nest­ing water­fowl, mew gull, Bonaparte’s gull, and semi­palmat­ed plover. The edges with the tallest wil­lows are a good place to find black­poll war­bler. A large beaver lodge on the banks has helped to fer­til­ize this once ster­ile grav­el pit, which now sup­ports juve­nile coho salmon, Dol­ly Var­den, and Arc­tic grayling.

The Feath­er Riv­er is a noisy, rocky, boul­der-strewn riv­er with a steep gra­di­ent, fast flow, and lit­tle veg­e­ta­tion. The land­scape seems more bar­ren, prob­a­bly result­ing from the impact of con­stant wind, long win­ters, and poor soil. Muskox and rein­deer may be seen here, but oth­er wildlife sight­ings are less fre­quent in this drainage.

Palmer / Wasilla

Vis­i­ble out­side the win­dows of the Mat-Su Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earth­quake. Lit­er­al­ly overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pas­ture­land became salt flats and marsh­land. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habi­tat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are pro­tect­ed in the refuge, which is a pop­u­lar recre­ation and wildlife-viewing…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

Part of the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, this trail mean­ders through tidal flats and wet­lands. High­lights are great views of the moun­tains sur­round­ing Palmer (Pio­neer Peak, the Chugach and Tal­keet­na ranges) and excel­lent bird watching. 

Prince William Sound & Copper Basin

This is an unde­vel­oped site that pro­vides view­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties of Sock­eye salmon from Pow­er Creek Road — four miles north­east of Cor­do­va. Salmon will be in the creek from ear­ly July to mid-August with the best view­ing in mid to late July. There is park­ing where the creek pass­es under the road. Pho­to: Wendy Ranney 

While on the high­way look for the McKin­ley Lake Cab­in sign and trail­head. From the trail­head, a 2 12 mile hike will take you to the For­est Ser­vice pub­lic cab­in. Sock­eye salmon view­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties exist here and at the loca­tion anoth­er 75 yards past the cab­in. Salmon view­ing at this loca­tion is from mid July to mid August with best view­ing in late July or ear­ly August. 

Look for the chan­nel to a beaver pond. The chan­nel pro­vides access to the pond for sil­ver salmon fry and can sup­port up to 25,400 young salmon. The fall­en trees and brush pro­vide cov­er from preda­tors. Here you will also find access to Sad­dle­bag Glac­i­er USFA Trail, a 3‑mile trail to Sad­dle­bag Lake, this is the best trail for moun­tain bik­ing in the district.

This remote site is six miles north of Cor­do­va on the east shore of Nel­son Bay and is acces­si­ble by boat. Most spawn­ing occurs with pink and chum salmon in inter­tidal areas and a short dis­tance upstream. Best view­ing times are mid-July through late August with best view­ing in ear­ly August. 

Shrode Creek is at the head of Long Bay on the west side of Cul­ross Pas­sage on Prince William Sound. This remote site is acces­si­ble by boat or plane. A one mile trail fol­lows the riv­er from the head of Long Bay to Shrode Lake where you will find sock­eye, chum, pink, and coho salmon. Salmon are present from mid-July to mid-Sep­tem­ber with the best view­ing in mid-August. A near­by For­est Ser­vice pub­lic cab­in is avail­able for reservations.   ...more

Har­ri­son Lagoon is on the west side of Port Wells in Prince William Sound and is acces­si­ble by boat. The stream enters on the north side of Har­ri­son Lagoon with pink and chum salmon in it. Best view­ing times are late July though late August with best view­ing in mid-August. A near­by For­est Ser­vice pub­lic use cab­in is avail­able for reservations. 

The Alas­ka Depart­ment of Fish & Game oper­ate the Crooked Creek hatch­ery, adult salmon may be viewed mov­ing up the stream and fish­way into the hatch­ery race­ways; king salmon in late June and ear­ly July and coho salmon in late August and Sep­tem­ber. Each salmon is iden­ti­fied and count­ed as it swims through the chute using an under­wa­ter video camera.

This remote site is acces­si­ble by boat or float­plane. Chalmers Riv­er is locat­ed about 34 mile north of a For­est Ser­vice pub­lic cab­in on the north­west side of Mon­tague Island in Prince William Sound. Spawn­ing Pink and Chum salmon can be seen in the inter­tidal areas and a short dis­tance upstream. Best salmon view­ing times are late July through August with peak times in mid-August. 

See salt­wa­ter hold­ing pens full of fish fry (young ones) wait­ing to be released into the ocean. In June and July, the water boils with swirling fish, eagles perch in almost every tree, and com­mer­cial purse-sein­er fish­er­men cap­ture sur­face fish by encir­cling them in long nets.

Oper­at­ed by the U.S. For­est Ser­vice and open only in sum­mer­time, it’s staffed by guides who can help you under­stand the area. There’s also a stream that runs thick with pink and chum salmon when they return each sum­mer to spawn. Thanks to a foot­bridge over the stream and the clear Alaskan water, it’s easy to see the fish. (The best view­ing is from mid-July through Octo­ber.) You may also see black bears, who come to feast on the fish.

Seward

This salmon view­ing loca­tion includes an all-acc­ces­si­ble view­ing plat­form over­look­ing the creek as well as view­ing oppor­tun­ties along Ptarmi­gan Creek trail. Sock­eye salmon will be in the creek from late July to ear­ly Octo­ber with the best view­ing in mid-August. Vehi­cle park­ing is in the day use area inside Ptarmi­gan Creek Campground. 

Learn how the fish are raised from small alevin to fry and beyond to smolt size before being released into sur­round­ing lakes and bays. Depend­ing on the fish cycle, there may or may not be fish to view, so please call ahead. If there are no fish to be seen, you’re wel­come to look at a small pho­to gallery and learn about the fish pro­duc­tion cycle, and under­stand why hatchery’s play such an impor­tant role in keep­ing our fish population…  ...more

The salmon life­cy­cle and a work­ing salmon-count­ing oper­a­tion is on the menu here, as well as a fresh salmon for your din­ner, if you time your vis­it just right. Hear how!

Great sock­eye salmon obser­va­tion site, espe­cial­ly in late July and ear­ly August. At oth­er times of year it offers a mod­er­ate walk up to Ptarmi­gan Lake that’s great for fam­i­lies and fea­tures lots of bird life.

From the grav­el pull­out on the west side of the high­way, an easy 14 mile walk to the Sock­eye salmon view­ing plat­form awaits (not ful­ly acces­si­ble). Salmon are in the creek from mid-July to ear­ly August with the best view­ing in late July. 

Grouse Creek runs adja­cent to the Seward High­way. To access this creek, exit onto the paved pull­out at mile 8.3. There’s a Chugach Nation­al For­est sign here too that marks the spot. From late- July to mid-Sep­tem­ber, you will be able to view sock­eye salmon with the best chance of see­ing fish in mid-August. 

Sitka

The Indi­an riv­er is home to a num­ber of fish: Sum­mer Pink, chum, coho, chi­nook salmon, along with Dol­ly Var­den, char, and steel­head trout. This arched bridge is the place to see them. Be sure to stop by on your way through Alaska’s old­est des­ig­nat­ed Nation­al Park.

The Indi­an Riv­er is a beau­ti­ful, clear stream that’s home to spawn­ing salmon each sum­mer. On the low­er reach­es of the riv­er, by the inter­tidal zone and low­er flood­plain, pink and chum salmon spawn from mid-July through Sep­tem­ber. Far­ther up the riv­er, you’ll find coho and chi­nook salmon, Dol­ly Var­den, char, and steel­head trout.

Difficulty: Easy

This is a great, easy walk that can be linked to the For­est and Muskeg Trail and Mos­qui­to Cove Trail. The board­walk trail trav­els through a rich tide­lands ecosys­tem, where you’ll find good bird watch­ing for shore and seabirds. You may even spot bears, who show up here to feed on young grass­es in ear­ly sum­mer and return in mid-July to the end of Sep­tem­ber for the pink and sil­ver salmon runs. The U.S. For­est Ser­vice man­ages the area, and the…  ...more