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Wildlife Locations

13 recommended locations:

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Considered one the ultimate virgin wildlife reserves in the Americas, the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 78,000 square kilometres and supports a remarkable biodiversity. It is particularly renowned for its polar bear population who rest on the Arctic coastal plains in late summer.

  • Where: Alaska Far North
  • Ideal for viewing: polar bear, Arctic fox, snowy owl, peregrine falcon

Baranof Island

Baranof Island lies in the northern Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle, with a shoreline of around 1,000 kilometres. Officially designated as the South Baranof Wilderness, this forested island is famed for its brown bears and Sitka deer, and its major industries are fishing, processing seafood and tourism.

  • Where: Southeast Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: brown bear, bald eagle, Steller’s sealion, sea otter, tufted puffin
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Bear watching

Chatham Strait

Chatham Strait is a deep 240 kilometre-long strait in the Alexander Archipelago, in southwest Alaska. Once the home of explorers and fur-trappers, it is one of the few places in the world where you can see the fascinating spectacle of humpback whales ‘bubble net feeding’ on the abundant supply of herring.

  • Where: Southeast Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, Steller’s sealion, sea otter, tufted puffin, rhinoceros auklet
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Whale watching, Dolphin watching

Denali National Park

One of the world’s greatest wildernesses, Denali lies around North America’s highest peak, Mount Denali. Famed for its wildlife which includes 39 species of mammal and 167 birds, spring sees bears stirring from hibernation and birds returning, whilst late summer sees bears feasting on the salmon run.

  • Where: Alaska interior
  • Ideal for viewing: American black bear, brown bear, caribou, moose, wolf
  • Excellent for: Bear watching

Frederick Sound

Surrounded by the majestic snow-covered mountains of the Coast Range, the abundant krill and herring of this body of glacial fed waters make Frederick Sound one of the premier places to observe feeding humpback whales who migrate here from Hawaii to feed on its super nutrient rich waters.

  • Where: Southeast Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: Dall’s porpoise, Steller’s sealion, humpback whale, orca, sea otter
  • Excellent for: Whale watching

Glacier Bay National Park

This coastal wilderness near Juneau has stunning vistas of glaciers, mountains, islands and deep fjords. Each summer orca, humpback and minke whales feed in the channels, and it is not unusual to see moose and bears swimming across the picturesque bay. You can only reach Glacier Bay by floatplane or boat.

  • Where: Gulf of Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: Dall’s porpoise, humpback whale, minke whale, orca, Dall sheep
  • Excellent for: Whale watching

Juneau

Alaska’s state capital stands on the Gastineau Channel in the panhandle. Its stunning location between soaring snowcaps and cobalt-blue inlets makes it a popular stop for summer cruises. Apart from the wildlife, attractions include Mendenhall Glacier, and opportunities to hike, bike, river raft, kayak and dog-sled.

  • Where: Southeast Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: Dall’s porpoise, humpback whale, minke whale, orca, bald eagle
  • Excellent for: Whale watching

Katmai National Park

Katmai has two spectacular attractions: brown bears and volcanoes. Bears can be seen in huge numbers during the Sockeye salmon run in July, late August and September, whilst in August they can be spotted feeding on the shorelines. The park is home to the impressive Valley of 10,000 Smokes, lined with active volcanoes.

  • Where: Alaska Peninsula
  • Ideal for viewing: brown bear, moose, caribou, pine marten, orca

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords offers excellent opportunities for whale watching, and the surrounding park has a variety of wildlife. Day cruises along depart from Seward, some 160 kilometres south of Anchorage. Towering glaciers drop into the sea and you can hear the constant cracks and rumblings of calving icebergs.

  • Where: Southcentral Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, mountain goat, orca, sea otter, tufted puffin
  • Excellent for: Whale watching

Kodiak Island

The largest island in the Gulf of Alaska is rich in wildlife. The Kodiak bear has lived here for 12,000 years, and 3,000 live in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which is also an important staging post for seabirds and wintering wildfowl. Summer attracts migrant birds to nest and feed on the plentiful food supply.

  • Where: Southwest Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: brown bear, humpback whale, orca, sea otter, bald eagle
  • Excellent for: Whale watching, Bear watching

Tongass National Forest

The 8.5 million hectare Tongass National Forest is the earth’s largest remaining temperate rainforest and an area of rare natural beauty. Covering much of the Inside Passage, it is home to bears grown fat on salmon, eagles soaring the endless skies and 500-year-old trees standing silently over a rich and verdant land.

  • Where: Southeast Alaska
  • Ideal for viewing: American black bear, brown bear, bald eagle, humpback whale, orca
  • Excellent for: Bear watching

Anchorage

This major port and rail terminus lies in the coastal lowland beside a fjord, but extends up the Chugach Mountains. Birdwatching, whale watching, wilderness adventures, panoramic mountain ranges, majestic glacier and over 200 kiometres of trails can be found within easy reach of the city.

  • Where: South-central Alaska
  • Excellent for: City stopover, Wildlife

Fairbanks

Alaska’s largest inland city is the gateway to Denali National Park. Its museums house interesting exhibits on Alaska’s cultural and natural history, as well as native crafts. In summer, daylight lasts forever. and in winter you can dog-sled and watch the spectacular Aurora Borealis.

  • Excellent for: Activity & adventure

View trips to these locations

Wildlife trips

Alaska is the USA’s largest and least populated state - a land of snow-capped mountains, towering glaciers, sparkling fjords, endless forests and salmon-filled rivers. Famed for its grizzlies, it is also home to black bear, moose, deer, wolf, lynx and fox in addition to whales, dolphins, seals, otters and more than 470 bird species.

4 recommended trips. Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.

Wilderness Adventure

Embark this outstanding ‘Access All Areas’ itinerary to visit Alaska’s national parks, by car, boat, plane, train and bus. Search for wolves and bears in the shadow of Mount McKinley at Denali National Park, be amazed at towering glaciers and icebergs in the Kenai Fjords, before photographing grizzlies at Brook Falls.

  • When to go: Jun-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,545 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Brown Bears of Kodiak

View the grizzlies of Kodiak Island (the largest in the world) gorge on salmon that swim up the rivers to spawn. This small-group trip also spends some time in Katmai National Park on board a private vessel, which enables you to reach remote spots and encounter bears as they feed along the shoreline.

  • When to go: Jun-Aug
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £9,795 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Bears & Whales in South East Alaska

Take an unforgettable voyage along the coast of South East Alaska to witness brown bears gorging on salmon, a majestic glacier spawning icebergs, and humpback whales bubble-net feeding. Travelling on board a small yacht, a flexible itinerary makes the most of wildlife sightings.

  • When to go: Jul-Aug
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,895 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Alaska Bear Odyssey

Combine two prime locations for seeing grizzly bears, in areas of phenomenal natural beauty. The world’s largest brown bears can be found on Kodiak Island, whilst Katmai National Park offers great opportunities to view them fishing for salmon, and here you will also find the wild volcanoes of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

  • When to go: Jun-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,695 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

When to go

Visit from May to September, when the days are long and the weather welcoming. Late May and June are warm with bright, sunny skies; summer and fall tend to be wetter.

Seasons

  • Winter

    Nov to Apr: A full-on winter experience - not a recommended time to travel
  • Spring

    May to May: Short and sweet season
  • Summer

    Jun to Aug: The season of plenty, with burgeoning wildlife plus midnight sun
  • Fall

    Sep to Oct: The transition to winter happens swiftly

Wildlife events

  • May to Jul: Brown (grizzly) bear mating season
  • Jun to Jul: Salmon return to rivers to spawn
  • Jul to : Bears start fishing for salmon in Brooks River
  • Jul to Aug: Bald eagle chicks fledge
  • Sep to Oct: Moose migrate from the mountains to low-lying land

Where to stay

Wildlife cruise vessels