Best Destinations for Wildlife Viewing in Alaska

In fact, the wildlife is what draws so many here, with everything from whales, sea otters, and sea lions to bears, moose, wolves, caribou, and bald eagles.

It’s so rich with creatures that no matter where you go here, you’re likely to spot something special.

Keep in mind that the slower you travel, the more likely you are to see the animals – this is no time to be staring at your phone. 

Keep your eyes on the water, scanning the hillsides and shorelines. 

Where are the best places in Alaska to see wildlife?

The best places in Alaska to see wildlife like grizzlies, moose, wolves, and whales, are”

  • Denali National Park
  • Seward
  • Homer 
  • Kodiak Island
  • Juneau
  • Glacier Bay National Park
  • Haines

Of course, there are some places that are better than others, so if your priority is to view the state’s wildlife, you’ll want to narrow down your options to bring the best opportunities for watching.

Denali National Park

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The biggest draw of Denali is its wildlife. 

While its namesake mountain is impressive, it’s hidden behind the clouds about two-thirds of the time.

It’s easy to reach from Fairbanks or Anchorage with most of the park road accessed by a bus tour. 

It’s your best opportunity to see the most animals, especially on an early morning excursion. The chances increase the deeper into the park you go.

Along the way, watch for some of the most iconic animals, with 80 to 90 percent of visitors spotting bears, Dall’s sheep, and caribou. 

Grizzly, moose, and wolves may be seen, while smaller creatures like marmots, foxes, red and arctic ground squirrels are frequently sighted.


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Seward is just a 2.5-hour drive from Anchorage, reached by taking one of the most scenic drives in the world along Seward Highway, enjoying magnificent views of the craggy Chugach Mountain peaks, the shorelines of Turnagain Arm, glaciers, waterfalls, and valley lakes.

You’ll see beluga whales right off Beluga Point and there are opportunities to spot, bears, moose, and eagles too. 

Once in Seward, Resurrection Bay is the star of the show, inhabited by harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, orca, and humpback whales.

Just a few miles outside of town, Kenai Fjords National Park protects 607,000 acres of long fjords, tranquil bays and coves, glistening glaciers, and a ton of wildlife. 

Watch for black bears, mountain goats, moose, wolverines, sea otters, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions.

Of course, you won’t want to miss the crown jewels: Exit Glacier and the 936-square-mile Harding Icefield.


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One of the most picturesque towns in Alaska also happens to be one of the best for wildlife viewing. 

Visitors to Homer can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of snow-dusted peaks and beaches, with Homer Spit a long strip of land jutting out into Kachemak Bay providing a top spot for watching more bald eagles than you can count. 

Gaze out at the sparkling blue waters to witness harbor seals, sea otters, and humpback whales with tufted puffins, horned puffins, and common mures flittering about. 

A boat trip or tour across the bay can bring you to Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park to hike the extensive trail system while keeping an eye out for large land mammals like black bears and moose.

Kodiak Island

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Kodiak Island is famous for its bear-viewing, with July, August, and September the best time to see the Kodiak bears. 

While you might be able to see them along the 50 miles of paved road on the island’s northeast side, prime bear viewing is done on the “off-road system,” which includes boat trips, ATV, and floatplane excursions that will bring you to places the roads don’t go with a knowledgeable guide.

Boat tours provide a unique perspective of the bears that roam the coast while the small floatplanes provide a bird’s-eye view of the action below. 

For the adventurous, heading out in an ATV or OTV through the backcountry provides one of the most thrilling experiences, with an expert guide alongside to bring you to see the Kodiak bears deep in their natural habitat.

You’ll see areas few tourists visit for a trip of a lifetime.


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It might surprise you to learn that Alaska’s capital city is one of the best places to visit for wildlife. 

Of all America’s capitals, Juneau offers the most magnificent views and wildlife watching. 

It sits on a hillside overlooking the Inside Passage nestled between Mount Roberts, Mount Juneau, and the Gastineau Channel.

You’ll see bald eagles perched on lamp posts, soaring through the skies, or even driving down to the water for a meal.

Just a short drive from downtown via the Glacier Highway, Eagle Beach brings sightings of countless birds with the bald eagles arriving for the salmon that swim through shallow streams on the flats. 

You’ll have the chance to capture some incredible photos with the backdrop of the Juneau and Chilkat Mountains too.

This is also one of the state’s best places for whale watching, with orcas and humpbacks the most commonly sighted, although there are many porpoises and Steller sea lions too. 

From May through early September, with the peak time in July and August, countless humpback whales can be seen right offshore although a boat tour with a local expert like Jayleen’s Alaska provides the chance for closer encounters while learning all about the animals. 

If you’re hoping to spot brown bears, you’re in a great place to do that too. 

While they’re often seen around Mendenhall Glacier and even trespassing across homes of Juneau residents, the best way to see them is to take the Pack Creek Bear tour in late July or August. 

Tours depart by a floatplane which will bring you and just a small group over the Tongass National Forest. 

After landing, you’ll hop in a kayak to paddle to Windfall Harbor and venture into the protected Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area. 

Here bears feast on salmon in the rivers and frolic in the meadows, roaming free in their natural environment. 

Glacier Bay National Park

Just a short flight from Juneau can bring you to Gustavus, the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. 

It’s a wildlife lovers’ paradise with whales often spotted from shore in Bartlett Cove although the best way to see the non-human inhabitants of the area is to take a cruise, with excursions available through Glacier Bay Lodge. 

Not only can you come face to face with a glacier, but you’ll be surrounded by animals on land, in the water, and in the sky. 

There’s a great chance of seeing coastal brown bears that lumber along the beaches or even sun on high perches on the cliffs. 

Mountain goats are often clamoring about and even moose can be visible as they feast on tree leaves.

Rocky islands play host to sea lions and seals, while otters are floating about and puffins buzz overhead. 

If you’re lucky, a bald eagle may be standing proud on an iceberg. 

Don’t forget your camera for this one.


Located in a deep fjord on a narrow peninsula 75 miles north of Juneau, Haines is one of the most scenic communities in Southeast Alaska. 

It’s surrounded by 20 million acres of wilderness-protected area with the Takinsha Mountains towering above. 

Just on the outskirts is the renowned Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve which boasts the largest known concentration of the birds, making it another one of the best places to spot them.

But bear and whale sightings are very common here too. 

At the nearby wildlife center, you can see animals that were abandoned or orphaned, providing guaranteed encounters with lynx, wolf, grizzly bear, porcupine, and reindeer.