1. Bear Viewing Tour
That's one reason bear-viewing tours are some of the pricier trips you can take in Alaska. Most tour operators access bears' prime places using a bit of airplane, though some tours will take you on a ship. However, it's completely worth the cost --these are just about the best wildlife viewing experiences you can have.
When you have a tour, you will see bears congregating near the water--playing, sunbathing, and teaching their fishing technique--and you'll be able to get pretty close without disrupting the event (and remain safe). You'll likely also find the bears begin feeding with a frenzy. It's not rare to see 15 or 20 of these during the day--and tens of thousands of spawning red salmon. For an elongated experience, pick a bear-viewing lodge or boat tour.
2. Dall Sheep
Another possible viewing place is in Denali Park Road if you are taking a bus tour. During any tours through Alaska, make sure you bring binoculars to see them from a distance.
3. Eagle Viewing
Generally, eagles gather along rivers where they have easy access to their favorite food: fish. As they tend to come back to the very same nests and spots every year, guides are quite adept at pointing out active nests as you head down a river on floats or rafting trips. Based upon the time of summer, you can see bald eagles sitting on their eggs or feeding their chicks. Perhaps you will see fledglings perched on the border, flapping their wings before their first flight.
It's also simple to go bald-eagle-viewing on your own--ask a local where the eagle-gathering place is in town.
4. Marine Wildlife Viewing Day Cruise
You're probably going to see hundreds of harbor seals relaxing on the icebergs near you and any number of sea otters, puffins, cormorants, or Dall's porpoises. You could also see dozens of otters floating in the open seas or hundreds of shorebirds perched over their rookeries, with their nicely crafted nests tucked between the stones.
5. Moose Viewing
Come winter, the moose community in Anchorage explodes as the animal head to lower levels to find food. They frequently live off the natives' landscaping, eating mountain ash and birch trees. Many Alaskan wakes up in the morning to see the trees in his front lawn destroyed (and, possibly, the offender curled up and sleeping next to the warm home ).
Despite all this, you may not find a moose throughout your stay. When there are no organized tours for visiting moose, here are reputable places to find them:
- In Anchorage, along the Coastal Trail and Kincaid Park.
- On the inside, each highway tends to be prime moose habitat. So please keep your eyes peeled, particularly near marshy areas and wetlands, as they prefer to eat the fresh greenery in the bottom of the ponds.
- Just remember to be careful around moose--and show them appropriate "Moose Courtesy".
- Do not feed moose
- Stay away from any moose at least 50 feet. If the moose doesn't stop as you approach, give it the trail. (Either retreat or walk way around.)
- If the ears on the moose lay back or its hackles (the hairs on its hump) rise, it's angry or afraid and may charge; back off immediately.
- Remember a moose can kick with their front as well as hind feet.
- Avoid cornering a moose into fences or houses.
- If a moose charges towards you, hide behind a tree. You can move around the trunk faster than the large moose can.
- Avoid get between a cow and her calf. Don't mess with mama or baby!
6. Salmon Viewing
7. The Denali Park Road
After Mile 3, you start to enter Taiga Forest, with is the beginning of the Alaska wilderness. Although wildlife viewings are not guaranteed on such bus excursions, this is prime moose habitat, and you can see them everywhere with this stretch of road.
Granted, you might not get as up close and personal into the wildlife as you would from a bear-viewing excursion, but this is a terrific deal considering you are only paying the purchase price of a bus ticket, compared to the cost of aviation. There are occasions when the animals will get curious and come right up into the bus. When they don't, some tours now include cameras that zoom in on the animals and project their image at the bus's front for everyone to see.
8. Wildlife Parks
Here are our favorites:
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is situated only an hour south of Anchorage. Spread across 90 acres, the animals reside in huge enclosures--so big. Your photos appear to be of creatures in the wild. You will be close enough to see the individual feathers of a bald eagle, see bears play, or hear the bison as they tear grass from the ground for lunch.
In Sitka, the Alaska Raptor Center is where you can see resident birds such as owls, eagles, and falcons.
The renowned Alaska Sealife Center in Seward is home to leading sea lions, harbor seals, and many shorebirds. You can see a 2,000-plus-pound Steller sea lion gliding past underwater viewing windows and even puffins diving into a carefully crafted naturalistic habitat or harbor seals resting on rocky shores.
The Alaska Zoo, situated in South Anchorage, is not like regular zoos. Enclosures are spread throughout a wooded area, leaving tons of distance between them so that animals aren't crowded.
Other great options include the Musk Ox Farm and the Reindeer Farm, where visitors may see both of these species while learning about the farm operations.
9. Walrus Haulouts
10. Polar Bears
Polar Bears Live in the Arctic, drifting along the shore or on the ice at certain times of the year. If you wish to view them, the best time is during whaling season in seaside Arctic villages, where there could be up to 50 or more polar bears feasting on the leftovers of a search.
There are a couple of organized tours in the Arctic villages, such as Polar Bear Expedition with Northern Alaska Tour Company. They provide a full-day trip from Anchorage to Barter Island in the Arctic area of Alaska.