Ketchikan Bear Tours: Discover the Best Locations and Ideal Time to Go

Spectacular Bear Viewing in Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska is home to some of the most incredible experiences of bear viewing in their natural habitat. Here, you can witness the mesmerizing sight of black bears (and sometimes brown bears!) feasting on salmon in streams. With exclusive access through floatplane or boat, Ketchikan offers a variety of bear viewing areas, including a walk through the enchanting rainforest and easily accessible locations just outside town.

Anan Wildlife Observatory: The Ultimate Bear Viewing Destination

Considered the ultimate bear viewing location in Alaska, the Anan Wildlife Observatory is an absolute must-visit. It is one of the rare places in the world where you can observe both Brown and Black bears feeding on thousands of spawning salmon. The best time to visit is from early July through mid-August. To reach the observatory, you will embark on a scenic half-mile walk along a partially surfaced trail with stairs. Along the way, immerse yourself in the lush rainforest and keep an eye out for majestic eagles.

The observatory itself offers spacious observation decks, a covered viewing shelter, and a photo blind situated just above the breathtaking waterfalls. From these vantage points, you can experience panoramic views of the area and capture spectacular bear pictures. However, please note that there is a maximum time limit of 30 minutes inside the photo blind.

Traitor’s Cove/Margaret Creek: Another Bear Viewing Paradise

Traitor’s Cove, also known as the Margaret Creek Wildlife Observation area, provides another incredible opportunity for bear viewing in Alaska. The best time to visit Traitor’s Cove is from late July until early September, with August being the prime month. You can access Traitor’s Cove either by a 20-minute flightseeing tour or a boat ride of approximately 45 minutes. If you have a fear of flying, the “Expedition Black Bear” boat tour is an excellent alternative.

Upon arrival, you’ll be guided along an easy quarter-mile rainforest hike that leads to the observation platform. Here, situated above a waterfall, you’ll have a front-row seat to witness black bears catching salmon as they navigate the rushing waters. Don’t forget to also admire the magnificent sight of salmon preparing to jump the falls or ascend the Salmon Ladder at Margaret Creek. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and other wildlife that share this natural wonder.

Neets Bay: A Bear Viewing Experience Worth Exploring

In Neets Bay, you have two options for bear viewing in Alaska: by floatplane or by boat. Each option has its advantages, and the best time to visit is from late July through early September. Neets Bay is a significant attraction for black bears due to the Neets Bay fish hatchery, where thousands of Coho, Chinook, and Chum salmon return every year.

Neets Bay Flightseeing Tour

Embark on an exclusive flightseeing tour with Taquan Air, allowing you to exit the plane and walk up to the hatchery. A short quarter-mile walk through the rainforest will lead you to the platform, where your knowledgeable guide will provide insights into the salmon cycles and the bears’ behavior.

Neets Bay by Boat

Opt for the Neets Bay Bear Cruise, a boat tour guiding you through the streams and shorelines in search of bears and other wildlife. Although you won’t disembark the boat, you’ll still have the opportunity to admire the bears from the comfort of your vessel. Please note that bear sightings can vary between tours.

Bears by Vehicle & Other Bear Tours in Ketchikan

While most bear viewing in Ketchikan takes place in remote areas accessible by floatplane, there are alternative options to consider. Van, bus, or taxi cab tours, zipline tours, and other tours in Ketchikan offer opportunities to spot bears.

Herring Cove: A Convenient Bear-Viewing Area

Located at the south end of Ketchikan, Herring Cove is the only bear-viewing site accessible by vehicle. It boasts a healthy bear population due to the Whitman Lake Fish Hatchery. While Herring Cove may not be considered a prime bear viewing area like Anan, Traitor’s Cove, or Neets Bay, it is still a reliable spot for bear sightings. Keep in mind that the best viewing times are an hour before and after low tide, especially after July. Don’t miss the chance to witness bears chasing salmon in the water while enjoying the presence of eagles, jumping salmon, seals, and shorebirds.

Herring Cove Bear Tours

Alongside the van and taxi tours, two additional bear viewing experiences are available at Herring Cove:

  • The Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary Tour: This guided hike takes you through the rainforest, offering views of a meadow, a stream, and the Salmon Hatchery. Along the way, you may encounter reindeer, eagles, owls, and learn about totem pole carving and an old sawmill.
  • The Bear Creek & Eagle Creek Zipline Tours: Experience the thrill of ziplining while keeping an eye out for bears, eagles, and other wildlife during the tour.

Bear Viewing in Alaska: An Unforgettable Adventure!

With a wide array of options for bear viewing in Ketchikan, Alaska, you’re sure to have an amazing experience. We hope this comprehensive guide helps you make an informed decision when choosing your Ketchikan Alaska bear viewing tour. Take plenty of bear pictures and share them with us. We can’t wait to see them!

For more information about bear viewing and to book your Ketchikan adventure, visit Ambassadeur Hotel.