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Bear watching in Alaska June-July

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Bear watching in Alaska June-July

Hi everyone!

I am planning a 2 week trip to Alaska from the last week of June to mid-July. I will be arriving at Fairbanks, making my way to Denali, Anchorage, Homer, then Brooks Falls. The salmon run at the falls is something I've already researched and plan on going to. Kodiak is something I've read about, but could use more info on. I was wondering if anyone had information or experience for bears and cubs around the stops I'll be making? Thanks in advance!

Apr 14, 2017 at 12:54 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Bear watching in Alaska June-July

Different rivers have salmon runs at different times of the year. Important to verify peak run time at locations you plan to visit. Often a day trip with a float plane out of Anchorage will provide the best chance of success and going to areas less frequented the bears are less stressed and you will not be competing with dozens of other photographers while you shoot.

Apr 17, 2017 at 08:21 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Bear watching in Alaska June-July

You mentioned Homer. Therefore you will be driving through the scenic Kenai Peninsula to the end which is Homer. At Homer, you can take a float plane to Hallo Bay and maybe Brooks Falls (assuming you make separate reservation for the latter) for bear viewing. My understanding of Denali is that many areas are restricted, and to get closest you have to take a tour bus. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Apr 19, 2017 at 03:49 AM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Bear watching in Alaska June-July

You are right about Denali. The bus ride is terrible. My wife and I went in August and spent the day on the bus. Not much to see from the bus. We drove the 12 miles that is open to cars the next day and got wonderful pictures of all kinds of animals. We simply drove back and forth all day.
Brooks Falls will be OPEN to all in 2017 but in 2018 they will go to a lottery system. Go now.

Apr 19, 2017 at 08:19 AM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Bear watching in Alaska June-July

I went to Homer in 7/2015 specifically to photograph the Grizzly Bears and we used Alaska Bear Adventures in Homer. They flew us down to Hallo Bay in Katmai , landed on the beach and we spent 4-5 hours surrounded by bears. It was unbelievable. Great company and great experience.


May 20, 2017 at 03:53 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Bear watching in Alaska June-July

Denali - you can drive a private vehicle only 15 miles into the park, to the Savage River, where you'll have to turn around. The road is paved that far, and is gravel from Savage River to the end of the line in Kantishna. Only park vehicles and people staying at a couple of campgrounds farther in are allowed past the turnaround.

We took the Kantishna shuttle, a school bus ride that takes all day to drive the 90 miles from the Visitor Center to Kantishna, and 90 miles back. The bus will stop anytime anyone sees an animal, and the drivers are pretty knowledgeable about them. But what you get to see is a matter of chance. In late August of 2008, we saw several bears, moose, lots of caribou, and a golden eagle. But most animals were rather distant - my 80-400 mm on a DX body wasn't enough in most cases.

Weather - the animals in Denali are built to survive -50F winters, so warm sunny days aren't much to their liking. So when the weather is crummy, overcast with rain and/or drizzle and 40-50F, you have a good chance to see animals. If the skies clear and it's sunny, the animals will spend most of the day hiding in deep shade, but the scenery will be at it best. We even had the big mountain cloud free for 3 consecutive days!

The Kenai River north of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula has a salmon run in mid-summer, but it's so popular with fishermen (and women) that the banks are elbow-to-elbow with people fishing. The state has rangers along the river to chase away the crowds should a bear decide it wants to fish for salmon, too. Photography is difficult to impossible. The organized tours that offer flights to find bears aren't cheap, but I think they are your best bet for finding a workable combination of bears in their environment along with an absence of human interference that would warrant state intervention.

May 21, 2017 at 06:22 AM

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