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Anyone knowledgeable about bears?

Anyone knowledgeable about bears?

Old Feb 28, 13, 11:14 am
  #1  
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Anyone knowledgeable about bears?

I'm trying to plan a trip to Alaska with my dad, who visited there once a little over 10 years ago.

Last time, he went fishing a lot from Seward/Kenai.

This time, we want to focus on wildlife/scenery. In particular, bear viewing. I think he'd want to do at most a day or so saltwater fishing (possibly around Seward again), or just sightseeing from a boat for whales and whatever. Are there better alternatives?

From my readings, there seem to be 2 seasons of bear activity. First, after spring when they come out of hibernation and eat a lot of grass, and second later in the summer when they go eat a bunch of salmon.

Additionally, there seem to be at least 3-4 bear hot spots. Are there any compare/contrast resources?

Finally, it seems like there are hundreds of tour operators. Basically anyone who can get ahold of a small plane seems to lead tours. How can one distinguish the good from the bad?

My questions are:

1) Does anyone have a recommendation of when would be best to view bears?

2) What areas offer the best mix for wildlife/scenery? Hiking and overnight camping 1-2 nights is not an issue if it means getting to better sites or having a longer chance at sightings.

3) Does anyone have any tour operators to recommend?
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Old Mar 1, 13, 1:40 am
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Are you looking to see grizzly bears or black bears? Are you open to going at any time and anywhere in Alaska? Seems like you might need to narrow down your options a bit. Most bear viewing requires a fly-in. But you can see bears in Denali NP (grizzly bears) all summer with patience and time.

Any fly-ins will be relatively expensive (figure $600+ per person for a day trip, more for overnight). I would never book a day trip fly-in to see bears.

I would say there are a lot more than 3-4 "hot spots" for bears. Off the top of my head I can think of Anan Creek, Pack Creek, Katmai NP (multiple locations within the park), Lake Clark National Park, Denali NP, and Kodiak Natl Wildlife Refuge.
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Old Mar 1, 13, 8:36 am
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Thank you, I'll look into those areas.

I would prefer to see grizzly bears, but am open to both. I can go any time, anywhere. I'm trying to find the places/times that would be best, and then plan around the bears' schedules.

A fly-in for 2-3 days would be OK, if it is worth it. Definitely wouldn't want to pay that for a day tour of a few hours.
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Old Mar 1, 13, 10:41 am
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I never recommend day bear viewing tours. That is a lot of expense for just a few hours, especially when often you can add a night for a fraction of the day cost and add lots more viewing time.

I would recommend you look at the above places then decide which might be of most interest to you. If you don't want to camp in a tent, then probably one of the nicest and fairly reasonable cost would probably be Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Lake Clark National Park. I have never been there myself, but others rave about it. This is grizzly bears.

I have been to several bear viewing areas, but usually it is "on the cheap" so I tent camp or book a Forest Service cabin (but the cabins need to be reserved 6 months in advance so you are too late for that this year).
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Old Mar 1, 13, 4:06 pm
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Way out of the way for you, probably, but accessible by vehicle off the Cassiar Highway - Hyder, northeast of Ketchikan. The border is open coming into the US - no customs station - but not so going back into Canada. Their customs is about 300 ft past the border.

You can also fly in from KTN via Misty Fjords Air.

There is a bear viewing area about a mile north of town on Salmon River Road. I was there last fall as part of a work trip (the road is being paved from the border to the bear viewing area). It can really be a spectacle but there have to be fish in the stream for the bears to show up. They have both black and grizzly there.
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Old Mar 1, 13, 4:41 pm
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Old Mar 3, 13, 12:28 am
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The Katmai trip was great for the plentiful bears, but not cheap (Rust aviation did a great job) , but the scenic 2hr. flight each way each way was a bit of agony on a small plane for me (6'3" + 250 lbs.) I'm glad we did it once, but never again.
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Old Mar 6, 13, 12:44 pm
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Originally Posted by PIONEER View Post
The Katmai trip was great for the plentiful bears, but not cheap (Rust aviation did a great job) , but the scenic 2hr. flight each way each way was a bit of agony on a small plane for me (6'3" + 250 lbs.) I'm glad we did it once, but never again.
Actually Katmai (Brooks Camp) can be a very cheap trip if done right. You can use AS or DL miles to get as far as King Salmon. Then you only have to pay the +-$200/person round trip floatplane cost from King Salmon to Brooks. Then camping is $12/person/night. I have done a week-long Katmai trip twice. Each time the total cost including flight, camping and food was well under $500. Most people spend over $600/person for a day trip. Their loss, my gain :-).
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Old Mar 7, 13, 8:47 am
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That's great advice, but I don't think I could convince my dad to go camping. He did that for much of his youth, and now says that he "camps" in a Marriott.
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Old Mar 8, 13, 1:47 pm
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Overnight at Brooks is probably out of the question then. The non-camping options book up more than a year in advance.
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Old Mar 21, 13, 7:01 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
Actually Katmai (Brooks Camp) can be a very cheap trip if done right. You can use AS or DL miles to get as far as King Salmon. Then you only have to pay the +-$200/person round trip floatplane cost from King Salmon to Brooks. Then camping is $12/person/night. I have done a week-long Katmai trip twice. Each time the total cost including flight, camping and food was well under $500. Most people spend over $600/person for a day trip. Their loss, my gain :-).
Agreed. Best way in is through Silver Salmon. Stopping over there, SS has a few places to stay and do some fishing. Then do a day trip into Katmai. After a couple of hours of watching the bears grab the salmon at the falls, you will get bored and go back to fishing. The trip to Brooks/Katmai still remains one of my favorites.

One other option, is check out Silver Salmon Creek Lodge. I have never stayed there, but stayed at a native corporation camp nearby and had plenty of encounters with bears.
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