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.
From the base of the Homer Spit, take this 4-mile paved trail to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. The trail is in excellent condition and is flat as a pancake for most of its length. The first mile of trail is along a broad estuary that is great for birding. Once you pass the one-mile mark you’ll be riding past fishing boats that are out of the water being worked on as well as a few shops.
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.
This bear viewing spot is a bit unusual because it attracts only black bears. A short 26-mile floatplane or boat ride from…
This river originates from the Lakina Glacier and the southern flanks of Mt. Blackburn, spilling into the Chitina River several miles downstream. Pulling over to the side of the road just after the bridge at milepost 44, one can explore upstream for around a half-mile before getting boxed out by the forest and a narrowing of the river.
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.
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 More...
Come visit and you might see up to 15 different kinds of mammals—from beavers to red foxes, flying squirrels, snowshoe hares, and even moose—and several species of birds. Throughout the Sanctuary’s trail system there are 14 interpretive signs, so you can learn how the birds, fish, frogs, and mammals survive in interior Alaska’s tough climate.
You’ll either enjoy a peaceful walk through a secluded and beautiful estuary ripe with birdlife—or have a ringside seat at the annual salmon dipnetting extravaganza, featuring hordes of crazed locals armed with 10-foot poles. The beach road emerges from the forest at a river-mouth lined by dunes, tidally influenced beach, an estuary and broad salt marsh.
If you’re looking for a wild oasis that’s just a 15-minute walk from downtown Anchorage, look no further than Westchester Lagoon (also known as Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park). One of the city’s most popular places, this is where locals come to play, as it has something for everyone. You’ll find access to great trails and wildlife, as well as year-round activities and events for the entire family.
This short, paved trail is an hour’s drive north of Anchorage in southern Wasilla. It leads out to a bluff on Palmer Hay Flats—a large stretch of wetlands with all kinds of wildlife. There, a viewing platform overlooks the flats and the Chugach Mountains beyond.
This salmon viewing opportunity is located at Mile 4 of the Portage Highway. Look for a paved lot on south side of road and a Salmon Viewing sign. The viewing platform is handicap accessible and overlooks Williwaw Creek. Spawning sockeye, chum, and coho salmon arrive in late-July and remain throughout early fall with the best viewing in mid to late-August. In addition to salmon, you More...
Accessed via the 1.5-mile long Lost Lake Trail, Moose Lake is an excellent place to visit with a camera or binoculars. Knock-kneed moose are a frequent visitors to the area and you're most likely to see them if you arrive early in the morning or about an hour before sunset.
The Snake River has a relatively short drainage that flows out of the south side of the Kigluaik Mountains. The bridge crossing is typical of the wide, vegetated valley with tall, dense willows growing along the banks of a narrow, swift- flowing river. The broad riparian habitat supports some of the highest densities of moose along the Nome road system.
This 100-foot-wide road is a public right-of-way that traverses lands privately owned by the King Island Native Corporation. It runs eight miles to traditional summer fishing camps at Woolley Lagoon. Please stay within 50 feet of either side of the road. Do not photograph or travel close to lagoon or camps. A pull-off to the right offers views of Moon Mountains, a wintering spot for muskox. Also watch for red fox and black-bellied plovers.
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.
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…
Cape Nome is a massive granitic outcrop that is much more resistant to weathering than surrounding lands. Local Alaska Native corporations quarry the rock, which is trucked or barged to large-scale construction projects up and down the coast. Nome’s seawall is built from this granite. Amidst considerable construction or quarry activity, birds continue to nest or roost on the rock faces. The thickly-vegetated slopes attract dense numbers of warbler and sparrow species during the spring nesting season.
A drive or walk up Mt. Ballyhoo is interesting for both birders and those interested in World War II history. It’s such as good view that you might even catch sight of whales in the distance. The view from the 1,634-foot mountain gives you an idea of how birds might see the area (that is, if you can imagine the view with a lot more color and super-sharp clarity)
Grand Central Valley reaches deep into the Kigluaik Mountains. Heading north, the base of Mt. Osborn (at 4,714 feet, it’s the Seward Peninsula’s tallest peak) is visible far up the valley to the left. These mountains have classic U-shaped valleys carved by glaciers, but the ice has long since melted leaving only small lakes at the head waters of the side drainages. 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.
A 45-minute boat ride or quick floatplane trip from Wrangell will bring you to Anan Creek, a unique bear viewing spot because of the interaction between black and brown bears. Only 60 permits are issued per day and it's also possible to sign up for access to a small photo blind that will have you near face-to-face with bears.
A 45-minute boat ride or quick floatplane trip from Wrangell will bring you to Anan Creek, a unique bear viewing spot because…
Approaching the East Fork of Solomon River, a wide pull-off on the left is an excellent place to park and scan the slopes and river valley for wildlife. Northern wheatear and American pipit frequent the rocky slopes nearby. Cliff swallow often build nests on the bridge supports, and ravens and raptors occasionally nest in the area. This elevated view of the river makes it easy to find red-breasted merganser, harlequin duck, tattlers, and gulls.
River crossing warning! Unlike other braided rivers along the road system, the Niukluk River flows along a single broad channel. A large colony of cliff swallow inhabits the cliff banks downstream while tree swallow nest in aspen cavities and nest boxes put up by Council residents. Osprey, which nest down- stream, may be spotted flying over the river. Bald eagle are also associated with the river and nest at the Fish River confluence
The large parking area opens to trails in the summer and snowmobiling and ski terrain in the winter. The popular trail to Pyramid Mountain starts here; this is the highest mountain close to town. If you tackle this hike, you’re in for a climb, but a large portion of the trail is in the alpine, with beautiful flowers and tundra. You’ll be climbing 2,400 feet in elevation in More...
The 2,300-foot Pyramid Peak is surrounded by Pyramid Valley, Captains Bay and miles of popular hiking trails, including a circuit around the peak. This location is for the birder who wants to get out of the city and industrial areas of town to listen for birdsong while sitting among the wildflowers or berries of the Aleutian tundra.
Watson Lake is a shallow lake that is full of vegetation – just the right spot for dragonflies and other critters. Standing at the boat launch and camping area, look out across the lake for these large flying insects. Red-necked grebes, rusty blackbirds and loons are also found on the lake. Most lakes on the Kenai Peninsula can be a good spot for More...
The grizzly bears of Denali can be found feeding in almost every corner of Denali National Park. Early to mid summer, these bears can be often observed from Thorofare Pass. What draws these adaptable and persistent omnivores to this high alpine environment?
Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilderness Lodge.More...
The west flank of Dry Creek leads to the Nome Cemetery on a small rounded hill. The narrow cemetery roads cross tundra and willow shrub habitats that dominate the area due to the slight rise in elevation. While being respectful of the grave markers, search for northern shrike, bohemian waxwing, or black-capped chickadee and enjoy the common tundra bird species as well. Don’t be surprised if an eastern yellow wagtail flying overhead escorts you through the area.
Just up ahead on the right is a small rock that sticks above the water and almost always has a mixed group of cormorants standing atop it drying out their feathers. This long necked black bird dives in the water and uses its feet to swim but unlike the puffins and other alcids has no oil in its feathers to aid in drying off. So they stand out on rocks to get dry.
Just up ahead More...
The road junction is marked by ponds and tundra meadows within sight of the coastal beachline. Loons, red-breasted merganser, long-tailed duck, scoters, gulls, and Arctic tern are common on the marine water and sometimes venture inland to ponds or tundra tussocks. Less frequently, Aleutian tern and long-tailed jaeger may be interspersed among perched glaucous and mew gulls near the road.
As the boat pulls away from the nesting areas of the horned puffins it will turn left and again stay right next to the cliff face. You'll notice some pelagic and possibly red-faced cormorants nesting high on the cliff just after the boat turns to the left for the final stretch of Cape Resurrection.
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.
Porcupines are not often seen along the main paved roads of the Kenai Peninsula. You have to get off on the gravel side roads that pass through their habitat. Tustumena Lake road travels through the Kenai Wildlife Refuge and ends at the Kasilof River campground. This road is great for viewing various birds including spruce grouse, thrushes and chickadees. Moose More...
Goose Lake is located in central Anchorage, near the university district. You'd never know you're in the heart of Anchorage as you view Pacific loons nesting at the far end of the lake from mid-May to mid-September. Rent a paddleboat from the Paddleboat cafe (certain days of the week) to get a closer view of the loons. Obey the signs, and don't get too close. More...
A great spot on the Kenai Peninsula to see a large group of seabirds nesting is Gull Island out of Homer. This short three-mile boat ride across Kachemak Bay is great for families. You’ll also find red-faced cormorants, common murres, puffins, eagles, murrelets, sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and even whales.
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 Delta is for the birds, literally. Swans, geese, ducks, shorebirds, and bald eagle are all temporary or permanent inhabitants of the area. The Delta is an integral part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, which brings together organizations to recognize and protect critical shorebird habitat. Bird-lovers will have a hard time beating the spectacular gathering of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds during their annual migration.
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. You can choose to make a short hike out of it or an all day excursion. Drive past the Road's End restaurant on a narrow, potholed road to a creek going under the road through a large culvert. This is Chinak Creek. Pink More...
At Teller the road returns to sea-level where the environment is dominated by marine waters. Look for spotted seals on calm days, their heads popping up inquisitively at the tip of the spit. Pelagic cormorant, pigeon guillemot, horned puffin, common eider, and black scoters are seen here.
Everyone wants to explore a tidepool, don’t they? This is a must for the kids—even that little kid in those slightly more mature visitors. Here’s the perfect spot. Bring a towel and let’s have an intertidal adventure.
If you're interested in tidal life and exceptional vistas, Bishop's Beach affords an excellent opportunity.More...
Several small lakes and ponds sprinkle the landscape on either side of the road. Look for a small hillock just beyond the first lake. This lone pingo rises above the surrounding flat tundra meadow and serves as a convenient lookout for hunters such as foxes, wolves, hawks, owls, and jaegers. The soil on the tops of pingos is fertilized by predator feces and prey remains and generally supports lush and diverse vegetation. Arctic ground squirrel and fox sometimes dig dens in these mounds.
Locals love the drive along Summer Bay Road, a 7-mile stretch north of town on the western shore of Unalaska Island. This area, with coves and rolling green hills, is not only picturesque, but serves as an easily accessible place to watch for a good mix of birds - from seabirds and waterfowl to nesting eagles and breeding songbirds. (Except for winter, when the road might be closed due to snow or avalanche risk).
A short drive from 5th Ave, you’ll find this great display of Anchorage’s natural environment, which coexists alongside the industrial port and rail areas that supply much of southcentral Alaska. There are hardly ever any people here, making this a great place, close to downtown, to get a moment of solitude.
These stops on the east edge of Nome (described in more detail in the Council Road section) offer freshwater ponds adjacent to the marine water coastline that attract a wide variety of spring migrant waterbirds and shorebirds as the ice is melting in late May and early June. The area is worth checking regularly because arriving species often make a short stop before moving inland. By mid-summer, early departing shorebirds gather to feed and fatten before migration.