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What You Need to Know About Bear Viewing in Alaska

Of all the animals in Alaska (moose, wolves, caribou, and more), bears still tend to be the most sought after by wildlife enthusiasts hoping to catch a glimpse of one in their natural habitat. The Last Frontier is home to tens of thousands bears. Here are some facts about bear viewing in Alaska that can help you plan your dream vacation.

Bears are a popular attraction in the state, so much so that many travelers plan their visit around observing these majestic animals. The area around Stillpoint Lodge in Halibut Cove is home to black bears. The wilderness that surrounds the lodge is filled with underbrush that provides a bountiful variety of wild berries and small mammals that the black bears thrive on. Lodge guests will often catch a glimpse of black bears scouring the coastline at low tide for marine snacks from the intertidal zone… and yes, black bears do occasionally wander on lodge property. During your lodge arrival orientation, we will talk about bear safety around our property to ensure everyone is safe and prepared while vacationing in bear country.


So Where Are the Grizzly Bears?

Brown bear and grizzly bear are the two common names for the same species, Ursus arctos horribilis. The only difference between the two is geographic location, which influences their diet, size, and behavior. Those that live in the Alaska coastal areas that we mainly visit are called brown bears, while inland bears that have limited or no access to marine-derived food sources are called grizzlies. We call them brown bears- you are welcome to call them grizzlies!


The Best Place to See Brown Bears in Alaska

Biologists estimate that Alaska is home to 95% of the brown bears in the United States. While there are many parks and well-known spots to see bears in the state, Katmai National Park and Lake Clark National Park on the Alaska Peninsula, have the distinction of being the best destinations for bear viewing with the highest population density of brown bears in the world. There are an estimated 2,200 brown bears that inhabit Katmai, and that doesn’t include the black bears that may also make an appearance during your visit. The rivers that flow through both parks are teeming with salmon, making them the perfect place to observe bears living and eating in their natural habitat.


Is Bear Viewing in Alaska Safe?

Alaska’s coastal brown bears tend to behave in a predictable manner, making it relatively easy to guarantee our pilots will know where they are and how they will act. The bears’ routine of sleeping, walking, fishing, and eating in the same places day after day creates a pattern of behavior that helps ensure our knowledgeable guides can find the bears and keep our bear viewing groups safe. Likewise, it is important for us, as humans, to also have predictable behavior that the bears can trust. Guides keep bear viewers grouped together, watch the bears closely for signs of stress or agitation, and know exactly when and where to stop and go. Brown bears who live far from human communities do not have a history of acquiring food from people and are therefore uninterested in us as visitors in their habitat. For them, it’s all about the salmon!!


From Stillpoint Lodge, You Will Fly to Brown Bear Country

Alaska is larger than most people realize. This, as well as the fact that brown bears move upstream throughout the summer, means that flying is often the best way to access good bear observation areas. Bear viewing is a popularly booked activity in Homer, Alaska. Our bear viewing excursion offered by Stillpoint Lodge gives small groups of guests the opportunity to take off in a float plane right from our dock in Halibut Cove and soar over active volcanoes and endless wilderness they head across the open ocean of Cook Inlet over to the Alaska Peninsula. After your scenic flight, you will be in the true Alaska bush as you hike to see some Alaskan coastal brown bears. Your guide will carefully lead you on an adventure to respectfully and safely explore bear habitat. 


It May be Possible to Escape The Crowds

Depending on the summer season, weather, and the timing of the salmon runs, you may get to land in untouched bear country and see lone boars (males) or sows with cubs as they go about their daily lives foraging, nursing, breeding, and just being bears. During summer, you can find streams and outlets across Southcentral Alaska packed with salmon, bears, and tourists eager to snap pictures. While there’s nothing wrong with the hustle and bustle of bear viewing on the road system, it’s possible to have an even more amazing experience when you choose to take a float plane to remote locations. Wherever you see a wild Alaska bear, the experience is unforgettable!


Bear Viewing Excursion with Stillpoint Lodge

Adventure awaits at Stillpoint Lodge at the foot of Kachemak Bay State Park. An authentic Alaskan trip includes equal parts eco-adventure, leisure, and wellness all on the edge of the wilderness. Stillpoint Lodge delivers on all of these points of hospitality with luxury accommodations and one-of-a-kind experiences including bear viewing.


Book your dream vacation today!

Black bears on a log


lone boar


bear viewer at Hallo Bay


cubs on the beach with float planes


Brooks Falls bear with salmon


Sow and Cubs


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