Skip to main content

Home to over 30,000 bears and around 98% of the US brown bear population, only its neighbor to the East Canada may rival the quality of the bear watching in Alaska. In this formidably captivating landscape, you can find brown bears, black bears, and Kodiak bears. America’s least densely populated state is filled with pristine wildlife, and there are some awe-inspiring trips to be enjoyed. Here are just a few of our favorite bear watching trips to Alaska.

Crystal Creek Lodge adventure:

Located on the outskirts of Katmai National Park, Crystal Creek Lodge is a natural haven in south-west Alaska. This 7,500 square foot timber-framed dwelling can host up to 16 guests, and it makes for an idyllic base to explore from! The lodge keeps waste to the bear necessities, so your impact on the land will also be kept to a minimum. The lodge has floatplane and various water-based craft meaning your expert guides can easily navigate the wilderness to find the best bear-watching nooks and crannies around. One of the highlights of our Crystal Creek Lodge Adventure itinerary is the Katmai Coast Bear Viewing Tour. In the summer months, bears of the Alaska Peninsula flock to the nearby beach to await the great salmon run. Ever thought you’d see multiple bears beachcombing? This kind of bear watching in Alaska is unforgettable.

Bear watching in Alaska: a mother bear and her cubs on the beach.

A Momma and her cubs beachcombing. Credit: State of Alaska & Chris McLennan.

When bear viewing in the Katmai area, a visit to Brooks Falls is a must-see. This rushing area of the river is a renowned lookout spot with some impressive visitors. Here, you can watch salmon leap the 6-foot waterfall in order to complete their migration to the Brooks Lake spawning grounds. Naturally, it’s a prime bear watching spot as well! In peak season it’s common to see fifteen bears or more hunting leaping sockeye – it’s a monumental natural phenomenon, and a bucket list moment. Curious? View the park’s livestream for your very own taster! Trust us when we say, this is but a glimpse. Read our full itinerary to find out more.

Bear watching in Alaska: bears fishing at Brook Falls in Katmai National Park.

Brooks Falls is one of the best bear watching spots in the world.

Inside Passage Retreat:

Alaska’s Inside Passage is known for its sublime array of wildlife, and if you’re looking for bears, one location in this area stands out above all others – the Fortress of Bears! As its nickname suggests, Admiralty Island holds one of the largest densities of grizzly bears in the world, there’s one for every square mile and they outnumber the sapiens on the island 3 to 1! On this journey, you’ll be staying at Favorite Bay Lodge, a rustic and comfortable haven on the west shore of the island that features roaring fires and classic Alaskan hospitality. The team at the lodge has an intimate knowledge of the island, and you’ll get an authentic taste of what life is like here. We mean this in a very literal sense! Locally caught salmon is prepared in the smoker in the garden, the mushrooms are foraged from the surrounding woodland, and the lettuce is grown next to the backdoor.

Bear watching in Alaska: a Grizzly bear by the river.

On a walk through Admiralty Island, who knows who you might come across! Credit: State of Alaska & Reinhard Pantke.

Tongass National Forest, where the lodge is located, is the largest temperate rainforest in North America, and the island is full of curious bays and inlets. There’s plenty to explore and many ways to do it. You could take out kayaks and discover more about the surrounding waterways, or perhaps head out on a boat with an experienced guide to fish for all five species of salmon. Alternatively, go for a hike with one of your hosts to find some of the best bear-watching spots, there are plenty around! Alaska’s Inside Passage is also home to humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, and other big water-mammals, so whale watching is an unforgettable experience that we highly recommend. For a journey that features possibly more bears than anywhere else in the world, along with other stunning species of wildlife and some of the best fishing on the continent, view our Inside Passage Retreat journey. As you’ll see, Favorite Bay Lodge truly lives up to its name and has some of the best bear watching in Alaska.

Bear watching in Alaska: a couple kayaking around Admiralty Island in Alaska.

Exploring the Inside Passage by kayak. Credit: State of Alaska & Reinhard Pantke.

Visit the Kodiak Brown Bear Center:

The second-largest island in the US, Kodiak Island, is a habitat like no other. The island has been isolated for over 12,000 years, the landscape is luscious and green and the rivers are filled with monster salmon migrating to spawn. The island is something of a bear paradise, so much so that it’s led to the evolution of the biggest land-based carnivore in the world – the Kodiak bear. The idyllic conditions on the island mean that they are a plentiful and lumbering megafauna that can grow to be up to 11 feet tall when standing on their hind legs! A sub-species that’s second in size only to polar, any visit to spot Kodiak bear on the Emerald Isle will likely be nothing short of spectacular.

Bear watching in Alaska: two bears wrestling by the river.

If you see a sight like this it’ll be bear hugs all-round!

The Kodiak Brown Bear Center is the place to stay on the island, there’s nowhere else like it. The center only accepts a maximum of six guests at a time to maintain the most authentic environment possible. The lodges themselves are some of the most comfortable cabins in Alaska, featuring hot showers, wireless internet, and coffee makers, all lavish luxuries on this part of the island. During your briefing when you first arrive, you will learn that the center has no compound, it’s just you and the wild. You may even see bears from your deck! A thrilling sight indeed, you’ll be thankful for the imparted knowledge of how to stay safe. This is Alaska’s wilderness at its finest. There is kayaking on offer, but most of your bear-viewing experiences will happen on foot. Experienced guides who were born and raised on the island or have decades of experience in the region, will show you to the best bear watching spots in the area. The ethos of the center is to move through the bear’s territory safely and with respect. You may come up close and personal with the Kodiak, but with your experienced guide’s knowledge, the bears will always be given the opportunity to do the right thing and have an escape route. The center has exclusive access to over 112,000 acres of territory that are historically known to contain the highest density of bears on the island, there is no better place to see Kodiak bears. The team’s intimate knowledge of the area means that you have the chance of having a bear watching experience of a lifetime! Fill out our short Plan Your Trip Form to find out more about Kodiak bear watching in Alaska.

Bear watching in Alaska: a Kodiak bear cub eating some salmon.

A Kodiak cub having a tasty snack.

Bear Watching in Alaska:

There’s a reason why many of our guests travel to Alaska, with so many unbelievable wildlife-viewing opportunities, reconnecting with nature has never been so easy. Whether it’s a brown bear, black bear, or Kodiak bear, bear watching in Alaska is unforgettable and unique. To find out more about any of the journeys above, fill out our short Plan Tour Trip Form, or call us toll-free on 1-888-999-6556. View our complete Alaska collection for further inspiration.

Bear watching in Alaska: a mother bear and her cubs in the grass.

“What are you lookin’ at?”