January 22, 2016

Wildlife Viewing in Alaska

One of my favourite things about Alaska was the abundance of wildlife. From moose to eagles, to sea otters and bear, in spring, summer, winter or fall, there’s always wildlife to see. But with an area that encompasses almost one-fifth the area of the lower 48 (contiguous US), sometimes deciding where to go to view the wildlife wasn’t always easy. 

wildlife viewing in alaska

Even though it is the largest city in the state, one of the great things about living in Anchorage was that we didn't have to travel very far to see the wildlife. In fact, a lot could be seen in and around the city, or just a short drive/day trip away. 

Here are my favourite spots for viewing Alaskan wildlife, all within a 4 hours radius of Anchorage.

Where to View Wildlife in Alaska

Bear Viewing

Alaska is home to all three species of North American bears - black, brown and polar. Unless you are waaayyy up north, or at the Zoo, the chances of you seeing a polar bear in Alaska are slim to none. On the other hand, your chances of seeing a black or brown bear are pretty good if visiting in spring or summer. While black bears, and the occasional brown bear, roam free in and around the city of Anchorage, to get a good view of them, you either want to head north to Denali National Park or south along the Kenai River

On any bus tour into Denali National Park, you have the chance of being graced by many of the animals that call the park home - brown bear, moose, caribou, dall sheep, fox and wolves. If it's a good weather day, you may even get a peak at Denali herself, North America's tallest mountain.

denali national park grizzly bears

The Kenai River is a famous fishing destination because of its salmon runs, which the bears are also no stranger too. It is not uncommon to see a brown or black bear patrolling the shores near the fisherfolk, looking for their next meal. 

kenai river black bear

Moose Viewing

Considering moose roam the city of Anchorage like they own it, you may not have to go very far to see the largest member of the Deer family. In fact, its not uncommon to see them strutting their stuff down one of the roads, munching on some willow trees along a trail or even taking a nap on your front lawn. Trust me, it's happened and in Alaska, is a believable excuse for being late for work.

alaska moose with twins

Marine Mammal Viewing

If visiting Alaska, a wildlife cruise out onto Prince William Sound (from Whittier) or Kenai Fjords National Marine Park (from Seward) is definitely a must. If you're lucky your eyes will feast on the sights of many different marine mammals, from sea otters to stellar sea lions, harbour seals, orcas, grey whales, humpback whales and dall's porpoises. Mountain goats, puffins and bald eagles are an added bonus.

Wildlife Viewing in Alaska

Bald Eagle Viewing

For years, Homer was the place to view bald eagles. A few hundred would congregate on the spit every year to be fed left over fish by one of the locals. Even though feeding the eagles in Homer is now banned, you will still see quite a few hanging around the Homer harbour. But, you don't also have to venture that far south from Anchorage to see this iconic bird. With its location right on the water, chances are you will see one flying over head or even sitting in a tall tree scanning for lunch.

Wildlife Viewing in Alaska

While most people come for the beauty, experiencing the big Alaskan wildlife in their natural habitat  is definitely an added bonus. But if you can't make it to Alaska to see the wildlife for yourself, there are always ways to view from afarWhen viewing wildlife, always remember to maintain a safe distance by following these important tips.

If you are planning a trip to Alaska in the near future, I recommend checking out these great resources to make the most of your trip. Also, be sure to pack appropriately

Have you been to Alaska? What animals have you see in the wild?

'Wildlife Viewing in Alaska' first appeared as a guest post on Route Bliss.

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