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Bear Viewing Near Anchorage

Visitors looking for guaranteed and authentic bear viewing experience have some options while visiting Anchorage.

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See brown bears in their natural habitat at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
See brown bears in their natural habitat at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. ©Visit Anchorage/Nicole Geils

The safest places to see bears in Alaska is at the Alaska Zoo and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The Alaska Zoo in south Anchorage is home to local favorite bears of different varieties such as Oreo the brown bear and Ahpun the polar bear. Get an up-close look at both brown and black bear in their natural habitat at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Bears also live in neighboring Chugach State Park, Denali National Park and Redoubt Bay. Located 250 miles north of Anchorage by road, Denali National Park & Preserve is a popular choice for watching bear and other Alaska wildlife. Visitors can access the area by plane, train or car. Private cars are limited to the first 15 miles on the Denali Park Road. Take a shuttle or tour bus to get into the heart of the park.  

One-day, Fly-in Bear Viewing Adventures

A scenic plane trip from Anchorage for guided bear viewing throughout Alaska is an exhilarating way to view these magnificent, massive creatures in the wild.

Located on the west side of Cook Inlet,  Wolverine Creek in Redoubt Bay Critical Habitat Area is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts to see brown and black bears fishing for salmon. Visitors can access the area by plane followed by boat charter.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, located on the western side of Cook Inlet, south of Redoubt Bay, offers excellent views of both brown and black bears as they feed on salmon. Visitors can access the area by plane or charter boat service.

Located on the Alaska Peninsula, southwest of Anchorage, Katmai National Park & Preserve/Brooks Falls is one of the best places to watch brown bears in action, especially in mid-July and early September. Allow for a full-day tour or book in advance to include an overnight stay.

McNeil River, 250 air miles southwest of Anchorage on Cook Inlet's western shore, has one of the largest concentrations of brown bears. It is perhaps the premier location for viewing bruins. Visitors must apply for a Fish and Game permit early. The deadline is typically the beginning of March. The state uses a computerized lottery system for choosing visitors and allows only 10 people a day into the area. Check out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website for more information.