Where is the best place to see wildlife in Alaska?
Alaska is undoubtedly one of the paramount wildlife viewing destinations in the world. The average Alaskan traveler almost always has three major animals in mind: Moose, bears, and whales. Though they can be seen in a variety of locations, there are specific destinations that provide the best chance to see each one of them.
Moose frequent a wide variety of habitats throughout the state. It's as common to see one ambling around the streets of Anchorage as it is to see one in the vast wilderness of Denali National Park. The nice part about trying to find a moose is that the opportunities are vast, and the moose are plenty. While you're in Anchorage, take a walk in Kincaid Park, or go on a guided bike tour on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. If you're heading north for a few nights near Denali National Park, book one of the park bus tours. Traveling on the Alaska Railroad also provides a great opportunity to see moose along the track, particularly in Potters Marsh on the way to Seward , and in the hayflats heading out of Anchorage. Even if your days are numbered and you still haven't spotted a moose, don't give up. Visitors often spend a whole trip unsuccessfully searching for a moose, only to see one on the drive to the airport.
If you are lucky enough to spot a moose, give it plenty of space. They are very big, very quick, and oftentimes very territorial.
Any visitor in Alaska likely wants to see one of the state's most iconic creatures: The bear. Black and brown bears are most commonly seen. Black bears are the smaller of the two, and are typically found in forests. Brown bears live in the coastal areas of Alaska and along waterways where salmon spawn. One of the best ways to see brown bears is to take a small plane from Anchorage on a bear viewing tour to Lake Clark National Park or Katmai National Park. Grizzly bears, which are the same species as brown bears but differentiated based on their geographical territory, are commonly seen in the more inland and mountainous areas of Alaska. If you're touring inside Denali National Park, there's a good chance you'll see grizzly bears foraging in the open tundra.
Outside of lucky bear viewing in the wild, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is most visitors' best opportunity to see bears. There are two resident black bears, two brown bears, and one grizzly bear. They were all at one time found orphaned or injured before being brought to the AWCC. Because they can't be reintroduced into the wild, they live permanently in the center's large bear habitats.
Remember that no matter where you are in Alaska, you're in bear country. There's always the danger of a bear encounter. Being bear aware is critical for the safety of you and Alaska's bears alike.
There are various species of whales that can be seen in a couple different coastal areas throughout the state. The most common are humpbacks and orca. There are also beluga whales and gray whales, but they are more elusive. The best place to see whales is on a day cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park or Prince William Sound. Some of these are resident whales that live in the area year-round, like the resident orca pods in Resurrection Bay. Others are transient whales that migrate through for a couple months of abundant feeding in the summer. If you're visiting on an Alaskan cruise that does not reach Seward or Whittier, look for whale watching tours to take during shore days in Juneau and Ketchikan.