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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
This is a great site to take a break for some wildlife viewing or bird watching. There are views of wetlands, a small lake, and boreal forest. Moose are often seen here and caribou migrate through this area in the spring and fall. During spring and summer, look for nesting ducks and trumpeter swans.
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.
This 1940s-era gold dredge is still afloat in its dredging pond but saw little action in its day. By the time the machine arrived, shipped in pieces from Seattle in 1946, World War II had ended and gold prices were falling. The dredge was repossessed by the bank in 1947 and never operated again. Interpretive signs tell the story and a boardwalk across the wetlands provides enhanced bird viewing.
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 Pilgrim River crossing brings you close to groves of cottonwood that are abundant in this section of the valley. The presence of warmer soils associated with ground water springs contributes to the growth of deciduous trees. A lower under story of tall, dense willow and alder attracts birds that are similar to those found at Pilgrim Hot Springs and often associated with boreal habitats.
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)
A six-mile round-trip hike that climbs to just over 2,000 feet, this climb will get you great views of Women’s Bay and the rolling mountains of the island. Park your car at the Salonie Creek Bridge. Walk back and across the road, and you’ll find a four-wheeler trail—this is the trailhead. The hike crosses some boggy, wetland areas, so bring appropriate footwear. More...
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.
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. Downstream, the narrow, swift-flowing river is hemmed in by dense vegetation. Spotted sandpiper may be seen on a sand bar on the east side of the road and belted kingfisher burrow into the riverbanks to nest.
Just beyond Mill Bay Beach is a lovely improved trail that starts a short way up Antone Way on the left. There is a nice parking area and trailhead sign. 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, More...
This recreational site has a series of loop trails that pass two small lakes. Park in the parking lot and take the path to your left as you face the buildings; this will lead you to the trailhead. The trail is great for viewing woodland birds and loons on the lake. As evening approaches, look for bats flying over the lake feeding on insects. Bats are hard to see More...
Wherever there is food, you will find ravens and northwest crows. In fact crows love people and their food. At the Homer Small Boat Harbor you can find these birds feeding along the shore, in the campgrounds and perched on the surrounding telephone poles and buildings.
A clump of volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean, this 60-acre island is home to nesting puffins, murres, cormorants, and peregrine falcons from May to September. Thousands of birds show up, making it a loud, raucous place. They come because of the island’s location in the middle of food-rich ocean currents and its lack of predators.
You’ll have to get here by More...
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...
Lee’s Dredge, the last dredge to work the Solomon River, was operated by the Lee family until the 1960s. It now provides nesting platforms for raptors and ravens. You may see green-winged teal and phalaropes feeding in the dredge pond and songbirds in the surrounding willows.
Some of the most valuable seabird habitat in the eastern Aleutians is located about 16 miles from Unalaska, east between Akutan and Unalga islands. The group of five volcanic islands are small, but are important nesting grounds for some species that are rarely seen elsewhere.
Unalaska’s Front Beach, on the shores of Iliuliuk Bay, is both inviting and picturesque. Looking toward the bay, watch for boats coming into harbor, eagles fighting over salmon, or mist engulfing the surrounding hills and mountain tops. Back toward Unalaska, you’ll find more emerald green mountain views and historic sites.
The mild stroll around Strawberry Hill offers great views, wildlife and some historic flavor. Old military roads cover the area, providing easy walking. Adventurers can bushwhack or scramble short distances for better views of the surrounding area or get up close to WWII-era trenches and the remains of old bunkers.
This flat trail—a must for birders—takes you past the Juneau International Airport runway and into the famed Mendenhall Wetlands. You’ll start by following the Mendenhall River until you get past the runway. Then the trail veers left, but a smaller footpath follows the embankment above the Mendenhall out to where it empties into Lynn Canal. Follow the main trail for 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.
If your travel group includes a WWII enthusiast, a wildlife devotee, a birder, and a kid who enjoys rolling around on the tundra, Bunker Hill is the perfect spot. Plus, it has the best photo ops, with a 360-degree view of the entire area: Captains Bay, Amaknak Island, Unalaska Bay and Iliuliuk Harbor.
In winter between October and mid-April, buntings cluster close to bird feeders in the center of town along Second Ave. A mix of McKay’s and snow buntings will perch on utility wires in congregations of up to 100 birds, close enough for viewers to see the subtle differences in these small snowbirds. Chickadees, redpolls, and sometimes a dark- eyed junco also come to the center of town, most often when fall is eclipsing into winter and again in late winter when days are growing longer and spring is in the air.
Skirt the harbor and walk toward the west side of the port area along Seppala Avenue, and you’ll cross the culvert where Dry Creek flows into the harbor. Upstream is a wide area of lowland vegetation. This area is subject to salt water intrusion during wind driven high tides, affecting the wetland habitat as it reaches the side slopes of tundra and willow shrubs. Puddle ducks forage and nest here. Look for shorebirds and other species as well.
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 city park at the east edge of Nome is a hidden gem of pond and tundra habitat. Birds flock here, especially during the early days of spring-thaw when the pond is an ice-free oasis amidst broad areas of frozen ocean. With the constant arrival and stopover of migrant waterbirds, this revolving door is worth checking frequently during late May and early June, and species associated with beach areas and marine waters are just steps away. At least 40 bird species, including waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, gulls, terns, swallows, and songbirds (warblers and sparrows), can be seen at this location over time. Muskrat, red fox, mink, lemming, vole, and shrew are also common in meadows.