From land to sea, wildlife viewing in the last frontier is unlike anywhere else in the world. As the largest and most undeveloped and uninhabited state in the nation, it’s safe to say that the wildlife in Alaska largely outnumbers the human population. Locals love their furry free-roaming neighbors and visitors to the 49th state are always blown away by their majestic up-close-and-personal wildlife encounters. In the new year, be sure to add as many of these fun, educational, interactive and immensely beautiful locations into your wildlife viewing bucket list.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – Portage
Leave the big city of Anchroage and head towards The Kenai, Alaska's Playground and you'll find this special spot off the Seward Highway to the right. This non-profit organization is dedicated to conservation, education, and quality animal care. Walk around and view countless species of wildlife and see for yourself how they are truly dedicated to preserving Alaska's wildlife.
2. Alaska Sealife Center – Seward
As Alaska's only permanent marine mammal rehabilitation facility, this incredible place located on the shores of Resurrection Bay in Seward is sure to delight everyone in your crowd. Kiddos love watching animals through the large aquariums and parents enjoy the incredible education opportunities.
3. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary – Anchorage
Head to south Anchorage on the Seward Highway and enjoy this wonderful pulloff to the left. Walk on wooden boardwalks that wind 1,550 feet from the parking area through the marsh and across watery openings, with incredible bird and animal viewing opportunities in the distance.
4. Eagle River Nature Center – Eagle River
Drive into the Eagle River Valley and feast your eyes on gorgeous mountain displays along the way. At mile 12, you will arrive at this incredible spot that will transport you straight into a wildlife viewing paradise. Enjoy hiking, biking, backpacking and overnight stays in the park all year long.
5. Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge – Fairbanks
This 2,200-acre bird sanctuary consists of wetlands, fields, and forests with incredible birding opportunities just about everywhere you look.
6. Totem Bight State Historical Park – Ketchikan
This 33 acre state park offers a wonderful variety of wildlife viewing including whales, otters and sea lions that inhabit the bays and inlets and bears, deer and wolves that can be found on dry land.
7. Kachemak Bay State Park – Homer
It's impossible not to love every square inch of these 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, forests, ocean and epic wildlife viewing. Enjoy viewing land mammals such as moose, black bear, mountain goats, coyotes and wolves. You'll also enjoy seeing lots of sea otters, seals, porpoise, whales and eagles.
8. Denali State Park – Trapper Creek
This 325,240 acre state park along the Parks Highway is the perfect place to get away from it all. Well, except the wildlife. You can't escape the wildlife here because they roam every square inch of this outdoor lovers paradise.
9. Fortress of the Bear – Sitka
This educational bear rescue center is loads of fun! Watch from above as orphaned brown bears and their cubs play around and charm the socks off of every visitor that enters the facility.
10. Alaska Raptor Center – Sitka
This 17 acre facility bordering the Tongass National Forest and the Indian River is a raptor rehabilitation center with a mission to the rehabilitation of sick and injured eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and other birds of prey from all over the last frontier.
11. Prince William Sound – Whittier/Cordova
Enjoy an epic glacier excursion and enjoy feasting your eyes on a wide variety of marine and land animals from start to finish.
12. Chugach State Park – Southcentral Alaska
These 495,204 acres of incredible landscape around the Anchorage bowl are home to more wildlife viewing opportunities than you've ever dreamed imaginable. Go for a hike and get ready to enjoy an epic photo shoot!
13. Kenai National Wildlife Refuge – Kenai Peninsula
It's hard to beat the beauty that is found in this 1.92 million acre wildlife refuge. Whether you are fishing on the Russian River or the Kenai River, or enjoying a hike to get away from all the crowds - you're sure to see some bears, moose, caribou or even wolves along the way.
14. Kootznoowoo Wilderness – Admiralty Island
Here on this isolated island escape, you will find 5,700,000 acres of lush temperate rainforest as well as the highest concentration of brown bears in the entire world. There are also thousands of bald eagles, Sitka black-tailed deer, boreal toads, and all five species of Alaska salmon on the island.
15. America’s first largest national forest – Tongass National Forest
These 17 million acres spreading across southeast Alaska are home to just about every kind of wildlife that you can imagine. Bears, moose, lynx, dall sheep and truly so much more.
16. America’s second largest national forest – Chugach National Forest
Enjoy endless wildlife viewing on a scenic drive, day hike or backpack excursion through some of these stunningly beautiful 6,908,540 acres spreading across southcentral Alaska.
17. In any of Alaska’s eight national parks.
Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark and Wrangell-St. Elias. Wherever you choose to go, you're guaranteed the most jaw-dropping wildlife viewing experience of your life.
18. In any of Alaska’s three national preserves.
Noatak National Preserve is located in the Brooks Range, Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve is located near the Canadian border and the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is located on the Seward Peninsula. All of these incredible places are protected and thus the wildlife tends to be fat and plentiful, making it perfect for a once in a lifetime Alaskan wildlife viewing experience.
19. Just about anywhere outside your front door…
Urban or rural... the wildlife in Alaska runs the whole state, and we happen to love it that way!