Jump to Town: Anchorage | Seward | Kenai / Soldotna | Kodiak | Cordova | Palmer / Wasilla | Fairbanks | Nome | Juneau | Ketchikan | Sitka
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mid May through early October
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.
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 Disneyland just over an hour’s drive from town.
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.
There is parking at the trailhead for passenger vehicles and one or two campers. 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. There is More...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
While on the highway look for the McKinley Lake Cabin sign and trailhead. From the trailhead, a 2 1/2 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.More...
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.
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...
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.
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
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, the turn-off toward the river leads to the seasonal camps and year-round homes that comprise the community of Banner Creek. Just a short ways in is a gravel pit pond that 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.
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.
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. Chum salmon rarely spawn beyond here as dredging took out the pools and riffles they seek. Coho salmon spawn a little farther upriver. Say’s phoebe will launch from its nest on a secluded ledge or crevice on the cliff face to catch insects flying above the river. Northern shrike, harlequin duck, spotted sandpiper, and wandering tattler are seen from this vantage point. 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. The side road reconnects with Council Road at Mile 41.
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.
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 grayling.
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 1/3 mile loop trail, part of which More...
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.
Around milepost 24 on Glacier Highway, take a left onto Almaga Harbor Road to enter Ernest Gruening State Park, named after a territorial governor and one of the state’s first senators. In his summer home here, he wrote his 1953 manifesto, “The State of Alaska,” which articulated why Alaska should be a state. (Statehood became official in January, 1959). From the boat More...
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: 800-252-5158, 907-228-5530.Hours May-Sep: 8am-4:30pm (daily) Winter: By More...
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.
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.
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 More...