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.
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.
This 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.
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 2-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 &emdash; as do many others &emdash; 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!
Anan Creek Bear Observatory
For a truly memorable excursion, book your trip to Anan Creek for the best that bear watching has to offer. The best part about an Anan Creek flightseeing tour is that there’s excitement at every turn. From the water takeoff to the opportunity to see wildlife in its native habitat, you won’t want to miss a single moment of this adventure. The journey itself is nothing short of amazing – you’ll fly over waterfalls, historic towns, and huge expanses of untouched wilderness. If that isn’t enough, you’ll land at Anan Bay.
From there, it’s a brief half-mile hike to a secure bear observatory where you’ll do the bulk of your viewing. This part of Anan Creek is well-known as a place where both brown bears and black bears feed on spawning salmon, catching the fish with an ease and speed that seems surreal. The scraps they leave behind are food for the bald eagles, which means you’ll get twice the viewing pleasure for every fish that’s caught mid-leap. Other natural sights in the area include seals, mink, marten, and even the occasional wolf, though there’s no denying that the bears are the real draw.
These areas are restricted to a select number of visitors every year and are only available via U.S. Forest Service Permit, so this isn’t an adventure that’s open to everyone. This particular tour is only available from July through mid-September, so book your trip early to help ensure you can secure a permit.
Book your stay at Alaska’s Boardwalk Lodge now, and consider scheduling one of these spectacular Bear Watching Tours 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.