8 Best Places to See Wildlife in Alaska

The Frontier State is one of the best places in the world to see wildlife.

Many people travel to Alaska in hopes of getting glimpses of the fantastic species that reside here. Seeing Stellar Sea Lions, black and grizzly bears, orcas, bald eagles, and humpback whales is surely an experience like no other!

If you’re headed to Alaska and wondering where to go for the best chances of seeing wildlife up close, here’s the ultimate list of the best destinations in the Frontier State every animal lover needs to place on their bucket list.

The Best Places to See Wildlife in Alaska

1. Kenai Fjords National Park

Massive glaciers are the main attraction of Kenai Fjords, but if your main aim is to see wildlife, you’ll find plenty of that too!

Kenai Fjords is one of the best places in Alaska to spot whales, especially orcas and humpback whales. Plenty of cruises are available that take visitors to the best areas in the park to spot them!

Moreover, as you explore the park, you may also get to see other animals like puffins, sea otters, bald eagles, and more. Grizzly bears and moose often hang out around Exit Glacier, so head there in hopes of getting lucky!

2. Katmai National Park & Reserve

Originally created as a way to protect the area of Novarupta and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes after a devastating volcano eruption destroyed it, Katmai was also designated as a place to protect brown bears and salmon.

USA Alaska Wildlife -Katmai NP

Giant moose and foxes also roam the area, but the main reason visitors to Alaska head here is to see brown bears fishing for salmon at Brook Rivers during the summer months. Mother bears and cubs are also a highlight of Katmai National Park!

Katmai can only be reached by sea or air. Camping amenities and cabins are available within the park.

3. Chugach State Park

Located just outside of Anchorage, Chugach State Park makes for an easy day trip filled with wildlife sightings.

Here, you’ll find over 45 species of mammals, including almost all of the land species that reside in Alaska! Brown bears and moose are so abundant here that finding them roaming around in Anchorage isn’t exactly a rare sight.

Brown bears, Dall sheep, wolves, black bears, and moose all reside within Chugach. Sightings of smaller animals like foxes, beavers, and river otters are also common.

Chugach is a favorite destination for Anchorage locals. There are plenty of rivers, lakes, and campgrounds available for recreational activities like fishing, hiking, boating, biking, and kayaking. During the winter months, Chugach is also a prime destination for cross-country skiing and Northern Lights sightings.

4. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Tucked away in the alluring Chugach Mountain Range in the Portage Valley, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a sanctuary for orphaned and injured animals.

While many animals are released back into the wild, many arrive in terrible conditions and remain inside the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.

USA Alaska Wildlife - Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The center is open for daily visitors and provides a great opportunity not only to see plenty of animals but also to observe them from a close distance and learn all about them. There are many things to do inside the center, including walking, biking, and scenic driving. Guided tours are also available for those keen to get to know the animals and their stories a little better.

6. Denali National Park

Encompassing a whopping six million acres of pure wilderness, Denali National Park is where you can see plenty of landscapes and ecosystems, ranging from verdant forests to alpine tundra and snowy mountains.

The centerpiece of Denali is a 20,300-foot volcano of the same name. This is the highest mountain in the entire United States!

Wild animals love roaming freely all over the park. Whether you opt to brave the hike to the summit of Denali or go for less-challenging trails, your chances of spotting animals like wolves, caribou deer, grizzly bears, moose, and more are very likely!

7. Chena River State Recreation Area

Home to almost 400 square miles of rivers, forests, and tundra, Chena River is a beautiful destination that can be visited year-round.

USA Alaska Wildlife - Chena River

Hiking, rock climbing, and scenic driving along the river on Hot Springs Road are all favorite activities to do at Chena River State Recreation Area. As you explore the area, your chances of spotting black and brown bears as well as moose and beavers are very high, especially in the forested areas in the park.

8. Glacier Bay National Park

Home to glaciers galore, another thing that makes Glacier Bay National Park a truly special destination is that it provides very high chances of spotting wildlife.

Humpback whales, sea lions, sea otters, wolves, blacktail deer, moose wolves, mountain goats, bald eagles, and seals are all present here. As if that wasn’t enough, plenty of bears call Glacier Bay their home, including brown and black bears as well as blue glacier bears, an unusual variation of black bears.

Unfortunately, Glacier Bay cannot be reached by land. It is a very popular cruise stop on most Alaska routes, but if you wish to stay here longer, you need to arrive by boat or plane. There are several accommodation options for overnight visitors.

More on Visiting Alaska

  • Some of the most remote and least-visited national parks of the United States can be found in Alaska. Challenging but oh so rewarding to visit, here are all the incredible national parks of Alaska for your bucket list.
  • Don’t forget the charm of Alaska can be found in its quaint small towns. Make time in your Alaska itinerary, not just for the nature experiences but ambling the streets of these northern gems.

Are you headed to Alaska and planning to see wildlife? Which of these places are you most excited to head to? Let me know about your plans in the comment section below!

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