Hop on a float plane and jet off to Southeast Alaska where the land is dense with temperate rainforest, the vistas are filled with snow-capped mountains and the air is fresher than anywhere else in the world. Make your way up to the northern half of the panhandle and find yourself lost in translation as you enter a land with rich Tlingít culture, breathtaking beauty, countless outdoor activities and an alarming amount of wildlife. Admiralty Island is rugged, renowned and one of the best displays of the
raw last frontier that you will find in all of Alaska.
You might look at this stunning landscape and think, "What could possibly be dangerous about this beautiful place of Alaska island perfection?" Trust us, we get it. It's majestic and awe-inspiring. But it is also incredibly unique and dangerous. Admiralty Island National Monument covers 956,155 acres where the bears roam vast and free. This special places has also been called 'Kootznoowoo' which means 'Fortress of the Bear.'
If you look closely, we believe that you will count FIVE total brown bears. Yes, that is one for each finger on your hand. Although they look peaceful and happy just playing beachside in the streams and likely fishing for salmon, these huge mammals of the ursidae family are carnivorous beasts that are very dangerous.
In fact, bears are actually classified as omnivores because they eat both meat and plants. But we are willing to bet that if you cross paths with a mama bear when her cubs are around, you will be the only thing that she has eyes on for dinner. Anyone who is experienced in the backcountry will tell you that crossing paths with a wild animal with babies/cubs/offspring in tow will be a very heightened time for danger. Instinctively the mother will become protective and view you as a threat. These huge brown bears on Admiralty Island can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds.
Now that we've covered all the fear-factor related stuff, let's take it up a notch. Admiralty Island has the highest density of brown bears in all of North America. In fact, the brown bears are said to outnumber the human occupants on the island by a three-to-one ratio. Holy smokes!
Being that Admiralty Island is the 5th largest island in Alaska (and the 7th largest in the U.S.) at 1,684 square miles, that brown bear statistic is absolutely jaw-dropping. Said to be somewhere around 1,600 brown bears on the island, that would make about one bear per square mile - YIKES!
To access Admiralty Island, visitors can take a float plane to the town/village of Angoon or can arrive via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry. Angoon is a lovely little community that has some of the strongest influences of Tlingit culture in all of the last frontier.
Although the bears outnumber the humans on the island, this sweet escape in the Alexander Archipelago panhandle of Southeast Alaska is beloved by residents and many visitors from around the world.
Located about halfway between Alaska's state capital city of Juneau and the beautiful town of Sitka, Admiralty Island is a very popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking through the dense spruce and hemlock in the Tongass National Forest is a very popular activity here. Hunting deer and bear are two other very popular activities.
Kayaking in Seymour Canal is hard to beat. You can enjoy breathtaking views of humpback whales bubble feeding in the distance, bears on the shore and tons of lakes and portages along the way.
As you're paddling around the island from Mitchell Bay to Mole Harbor, be sure to be on the lookout for waterfalls in the distance. Admiralty island is also home to world's greatest concentration of bald eagles (with over 5,000 on the island) so keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful birds of prey flying above you.
On the island there are recreational cabins that visitors can use if they want to stay for the night or for multiple days at a time. These are operated by the Forest Service and can be booked for just $45 dollar per night.
Or if being 'one with nature' is more your cup of tea, bring a tent and camp in the open wilderness with gorgeous views of snow-covered mountains in the distance.
Once the day has come to a close, you can kick back, have a campfire and enjoy an awe-inspiring sunset right from shore. Remember that whenever you go into the backcountry (especially on this island where the bears outnumber the humans) - always bring proper protection and safety supplies.