No playing here as a brown bear family repel hungry wolves. Shot from a cruise ship by Christopher Michel. Gray wolves are listed as endangered wildlife in the USA’s other states but not in Alaska where they’re doing just fine and number in their thousands.
Admiralty Island National Monument, charmingly known as Kootznoowoo(Fortress of the Bear) by the Tlingit Indians, is a superb, mountainous wildlife reserve, 96 miles long, and one of the best places in the state to see seals, sea lions, porpoises, humpback whales, deer, bald eagles and of course bears.
At least 1, 500 of these burly brutes roam the island – outside of winter – lunching on berries, roots and smaller animals while they wait for the salmon main course to arrive in July and August. This is peak viewing time and Pack Creek is the place to see Brown bears fishing. Many tourists fly in from Juneau for just a couple of days by seaplane.
More active travellers enjoy kayaking/canoeing 32 miles across the island on the Admiralty Island Canoe Route from Angoon (an indigenous Tlingit village) to Mole Harbor, consisting mainly of lakes and streams but carrying the transport for up to 3 miles may be required.
A Bald Eagles mating ritual in the Fall. These creatures are commonly seen around Admiralty Island National Monument. Photo by Dan Pancamo.
Katmai National Park, South-Central Alaska, 300 miles SW of Anchorage, is another great bear-faced place with about 2, 000 animals roaming about. Many feed in the summer at Brooks Falls, where there is a tourist viewing platform and a good campsite, Brooks Camp.
Katmai’s other main attraction is 14 active volcanoes; possible activities include include hiking, backpacking, camping, back country skiing, fishing, kayaking and boat tours.
Other top bearish spots are Anan Wildlife Observatory (black bears, access via Wrangell), Kodiak Island and Denali National Park.
Humpback whales bubble-net-feeding in North Pass between Lincoln Island and Shelter Island near Juneau in August. Photo by Evadb.
(Prince) Frederick Sound in SE Alaska, is one of the best summertime whale-watching areas in the USA in the summer feeding time; in fact in 1995 near Petersburg a whale jumped into a boat with tourists, just to welcome them to Alaska (apparently).
Frederick Sound is also a favoured feeding zone for Killer whales, aka Orcas, who snack on just about everything from seals to smaller whales, as well as plenty of prey such as otters, seals, sea lions and porpoises.
However, tourists can see whales in most of Alaska’s waters, just not quite the frequency of Frederick Sound.
In early November whales and otters head for Sitka to participate in the Whale Festival there and you don’t even have to get in a boat to see them, the city park is quite sufficient.