Bald Eagle Watching

Bald eagle fishing in Southeast AlaskaOf all the wildlife to see during your visit to Prince of Wales Island, none are quite as breathtaking as the bald eagles. Most of us recognize this majestic bird as a symbol of America, but it’s just as safe to say that they’re a symbol of Alaska. These huge birds of prey are some of the best hunters in the skies, taking advantage of the salmon runs to feast and frolic the whole year round.

In fact, Tongass National Forest is home to the largest proportion of bald eagles in the world. The entire state of Alaska boasts over 30,000 resident bald eagles, about 2,000 of which gather every spring to enjoy all that Prince of Wales Island has to offer. Although you can see them during every month out of the year, the best viewing times are during the salmon runs in the summer. Because this is when the black and brown bears feed, the eagles have learned to linger nearby to pick up the scraps and enjoy a little side-by-side fishing.

Although there’s a good chance you’ll see a bald eagle or two while you’re out on your normal fishing runs, it’s worth taking a few hours to go on a flightseeing tour or drive to one of the prime bald eagle watching spots. You aren’t likely to find a larger concentration of these magnificent birds anywhere in the world – or in such a gorgeous natural setting.
Bald eagle perched in tree

Where to View Bald Eagles

The good news is, when you visit Prince of Wales Island during salmon spawning season, you’re never far from bald eagles. This is the time of year when they swoop in to take advantage of the rivers teeming with salmon, and you could easily find yourself sharing the water with a few fellow fishers.

In fact, the island is ideal for bald eagle viewing. They love our coastlines and numerous offshore islands, interior lakes, and rivers. Because there’s an abundance of water everywhere you turn, the eagles will perch in trees and on rocks, just waiting for their chance to feed. Since the fish are so plentiful, they also prefer to nest here.
Bald eagle landingDepending on how far you want to go and what kind of bald eagle watching adventure you have in mind, options for viewing include:

  • Anan Creek Flightseeing Tour:This option sees you taking to the skies with our flightseeing partners. In addition to a water takeoff and incredible flightseeing, you’ll land at Anan Creek, which is well-known for both bear viewing and its abundance of eagles (more about Anan Creek bear watching).
  • Dog Salmon Fish Pass Drive:If you’d rather enjoy a leisurely drive across Prince of Wales Island, a trip to Dog Salmon Fish Pass is a great way to see both bears and bald eagles feasting on the salmon-filled waterways (more about Dog Salmon Fish Pass bear watching). 
  • Klawock River:The fish ladder at the Prince of Wale Hatchery is a very busy place. In addition to the spawning salmon, you’re likely to find plenty of eagles who are ready to feast on them.
  • Cable Creek Fish Pass:This site is very accessible if you don’t want to do too much in the way of hiking, and offers a 300-foot boardwalk for viewing salmon runs and all the wildlife (including bald eagles) who take advantage of them.
  • Sandy Beach Road and Recreation Area: Turn your eagle-watching excursion into a trip to the beach…literally. This is one of the only non-rock beaches on the island, so you can enjoy some beachcombing and sightseeing while you search the skies for bald eagles.
  • Boardwalk’s Property:The lodge property itself is home to nested eagles of our very own. If you don’t want to take too much time away from your fishing, you can often pull out a pair of binoculars and watch the eagles from right where you stand.

In addition to bald eagles, you might also spot sandhill cranes, blue herons, petrels, auklets, puffins, osprey, swans, geese, ducks, and up to 500 other species of fowl. Spring is a prominent migratory time, so you could even spot some rare birds that can only be found in our skies a few weeks out of the year.Bald eagle gliding

No matter where you end up going to view the bald eagles, take a picnic, bring a camera, and dress for a little hiking, and you’re guaranteed an amazing time from start to finish!

Book your stay at Alaska’s Boardwalk Lodge now, and consider scheduling one of these majestic Eagle Watching Excursions as well.

*Fly out fishing and Alaska flightseeing excursions are an additional cost and must be scheduled weeks in advance of your stay, and permits to the Anan Creek tours are limited. Be sure to call ahead for availability and booking of these remarkable adventures.