Critter viewing opportunities (wild variety)

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 12:02:02 02/15/15

In Reply to: Oh ok, will email too posted by Photobug


Ironically, Denali is one of the first places I would recommend for wildlife watching, although IMHO it does not rival Yellowstone in that regard. In June, a visitor to Denali stands to see caribou, moose, and dall sheep almost certainly. Taking one of the bus trips into the interior would likely produce several bear sightings and a possible wolf sighting.

Outside of Denali, there are a number of "hot spots" for bear viewing. You are likely already aware of some of the high profile ones, like Brooks Lodge/Falls and Mc Neil River. Brooks requires flying in via float plane from King Salmon (primarily). McNeil requires reservations a LONG ways in advance. For those who can afford it, or are willing to cough up the coin, there are beaucoup outfits that fly folks to coastal locations in the vicinity of where Tim Treadwell hung out. These places, like Halo Bay, and adjacent areas, offer very good coastal grizzly (brown bear) viewing in June. This is the area that was used for the recent Disney movie about brown bears. This is where Geri and Oldtymr went, and obtained amazing photos (which they posted on this page as I remember it), back in 2012. Points of departure for this trip are numerous, including Homer (closest, thus cheapest), Anchorage, and even Kodiak. Most trips are anywhere from 3 hours to 5 or 6 hours in length, although you can go longer if you are willing to part with more coin of the realm.

Poor man's bear viewing is available at the Russian River area during select times of the summer, when various salmon runs are going. There is an early pink or red salmon run that sometimes occurs in late June or early July, and it is known to attract the bruins. This place is just off the Stirling Hwy, and very easy to access.

To see black bear or moose, you just have to hang out in any of a great number of areas that are home to these critters. We have had moose in our front yard in both places we have lived! We had a black bear mom and cubs playing in the road on a dirt road a few miles from where we live. Of course, the vehicle scared them off into the forest.

If there is anything else that I perceive as really unique/special about this geography, regarding critters, it is the coastal areas, where bird life and marine life abound. Living where you hang your hat, the thought of seeing orcas or sea lions may not fire your rocket, but visitors to Homer, Seward, or Whittier, that book passage on one of the half day or all day boat trips, can see such sights, along with dolphins, puffins, seals, and other critters that are not exactly front brain in my skull at the moment. Seward may be the best option, in terms of proximity to Anchorage and Kenai Fjords National Park. (The show also includes getting close to glaciers, and watching them calve icebergs.)

I will do a separate post about some of the better critter viewing opportunities of the "within an enclosure" variety.


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