Bear Watching Tours - Alaska's Boardwalk Lodge

Bear Watching Tours

In Tongass National Forest, bears are a way of life. There are more brown and black bears living here than people, which means sightings are common. Although the bears spend their winters hibernating, they’re very active in the summer months. In fact, during the strongest salmon runs, they eat up to 90 pounds of fish every day (that equals a weight gain of 40 pounds per week). Provided you know where to look, you can watch this amazing feat in action for yourself.

Because the bears on Prince of Wales Island are such an important part of both the ecosystem and the tourism trade, the Forest Service has done a great job setting up a safe system for bear viewing and photography. Designated bear observatory platforms allow you to watch the spectacle of the annual fishing frenzy for yourself – and at a comfortable distance that doesn’t get in the way of nature.

If you come here on a visit and don’t see at least one bear, then you’re not doing Alaska the right way. Fortunately, we’ve made it easy for you to enjoy this natural spectacle for yourself. Take a break from fishing to watch therealpros take a hand at it.

Southeast Alaska black bear salmon fishing

Dog Salmon Fish Pass Bear Tour

Flightseeing Tour. Our flightseeing partners are some of Alaska’s premier bush pilots, flying you close to hidden natural treasures and taking you to top bear watching areas in the heart of Tongass National Forest. One of those treasures is the bear observatory at Dog Salmon Fish Pass.

Your pilot will pick you up right from our dock and take you on a picturesque flight across Prince of Wales Island, before touching down in Polk Inlet, near Dog Salmon Creek. A bear guide will then drive you about one mile down a U.S. Forest Service road to a trailhead. You will be safely escorted down the trail (approximately 250 yards) to the bear watching platform.

Prince of wales island bear fishing Anan Creek Bear ObservatoryThis wildlife viewing site offers visitors a chance to watch black bears at work as they take advantage of the huge salmon runs. (There are no brown bears here on Prince of Wales Island.) From July through September, pink and dog salmon course through the appropriately-named Dog Salmon Creek. This is where they spawn and travel up the waterfall or fish ladder, meaning that the waters are often teeming with fish. We know it, the bears know it, and the eagles know it, making this an ideal place to watch predators in their natural environment.

This is one of the most popular bear-watching sites in Tongass National Forest, so they’ve done a good job making it visitor-friendly. A safe and scenic viewing platform is located a short walk from the parking area, giving you a unique experience and allowing you to capture some exciting photos.
Prince of Wales Island black bear observatory at Dog Salmon Fishpass
Driving Tour. If a flightseeing tour doesn’t fit in with your plans, consider a drive to Dog Salmon Fish Pass with one of our guides instead. The bear observatory is located a gorgeous 3-hour drive from the lodge. The driving tour is coupled with other stops along the way that allow you to take in more of the island’s features.

We believe, as do many others, that one of the best ways to see Prince of Wales Island is by driving the roadways that wind through gorgeous forests and scenic vistas. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, rest assured that you’re in for the experience of a lifetime!

Alaska black bear watching

Traitors Cove Bear Tour

The Traitors Cove Bear Viewing experience begins with a short 20 minute floatplane flight over the lush wilderness of the Tongass National Forest. Your pilot will narrate along the way, pointing out key points in the area. After you touch down in Traitors Cove, you will be met on the floatplane dock by your personal Alaska Bear Guide who will drive you about one mile down a United States Forest Service (USFS) road to a trailhead. Your guide will safely escort you down the trail (approximately 250 yards) to the Margaret Creek Bear Viewing platform. Along the trail, your guide will point out the flora, fauna, berries and trees as well as any wildlife you encounter. Keep your eyes peeled all around – bald eagles and even bears are known to perch high above in the trees.
Prince of Wales Island bear walking down road

The Margaret Creek Bear Viewing observatory is maintained by the USFS whose policy allows bear tours from late July into late September. To protect this delicate habitat, only a small number of visitors are allowed on the platform at one time and there is a restriction for the total number of visitors per day. As a result, you are guaranteed an intimate and awe-inspiring experience. An opportunity to visit this location is an opportunity not to be missed! It is as advised to book this tour as early as possible due to the strict availability.

Upon arrival to the platform, you will be at a prime vantage point to see Alaska’s REAL fisherman! Watch the true champions of the tour – the 5 species of salmon battling in the last part of their life, to arrive upstream to spawn. They are fighting not just the swift current but also the bears. See the black bears fattening up for winter, plunge into the rushing water with jaws wide, to eat the wild salmon heading upstream to spawn. Besides bears feeding, you are also likely to see Bald Eagles feeding on salmon scraps left over by the bears. Your naturalist/guide will answer any questions you have about the local wildlife, flora and fauna.

Highlights:

  • Visit a World Class bear viewing facility.
  • A round trip flight over the Tongass National Forest is included.
  • Listen to a personalized flight narration – no recorded tracks
  • There is a high likelihood of seeing black bears, eagles and salmon.
  • Enjoy a nature walk of approximately ¼ mile round trip.
  • Be accompanied by an experienced Alaska Bear Guide.
  • Tour length is about 3 hours with up to 45 minutes of flightseeing.