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Besy bear viewing?

Indiana
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Besy bear viewing?

Going to Alaska this summer and working on an itinerary. High priority is good grizzly viewing. We'll definitely be going to Denali. Plan to be in Alaska for 2 weeks and are willing to fly Anchorage to Juneau. Don't want to do a flightseeing trip. Looks like only place that does the permits for grizzly bear viewing that is accessible by boat is Anan taking a boat from Wrangell. Is this worth the trouble of flying over to Juneau,taking marine highway boat down to Wrangell,etc or would we be better off to just take our chances on good sightings in Denali. Can't decide whether to just focus on Anchorage/Denali/Fairbanks/Kenai peninsula or whether to also do Juneau/Glacier Bay/Anan bear watching. Also, several in our group get sea sickness-is this likely issue at any of water destinations mentioned

Adirondack, New York
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1. Re: Besy bear viewing?

When are you in Alaska? There are options of flying to see brown bears from Anchorage, Soldotna, Homer. Depends when but you may want to go to Brooks Falls for a day or stay in the lodge or maybe camp out in the area. All options were discussed on this from many times. Check out Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, Homestead Lodge. They conduct day trips. Homer has many (IMHO too many) bear watching tours that take you by floatplanes to Katmai National Park. No need to be on a boat. We participated in about 12 trips from Kenai Peninsula to see brown bears and never from a boat. Some operators have a minimum age requirements for bear watching trips. I suggest doing some searching on this forum under "bear watching" You'll find tons of detailed information on brown bear watching trips.

Edited: 30 December 2010, 14:23
McCarthy, Alaska
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2. Re: Besy bear viewing?

If you will be in Homer, I would recommend Michael Hughes at KBay Air for great fly-in bear viewing trips off the beaten track...

Cheers,

Gaia

Manitoba, Canada
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3. Re: Besy bear viewing?

"Don't want to do a flightseeing trip."

Are you wanting to avoid a small-plane experience, or is there some other reason?

West Palm Beach...
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4. Re: Besy bear viewing?

I would recommend Katmai National Park, but you are probably too late to get a cabin. Campground reservations can be made beginning around the first of Jan. and sell out quickly for the best dates for bear viewing. Those dates are around mid-July. You definitely will not be disappointed, but you need to move quickly if you are going to stay overnight. I do recommend an overnight trip.

Ohio
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5. Re: Besy bear viewing?

It has been a few years, but we stayed at Brooks Lodge and Cabins in Katmai National Park. We stayed2 or 3 nights in a cabin that faced away from the lake and toward the Naknek River(?). It was in the latter half of August. It was SO great! I could roll over in my bunk and watch the bears from our cabin window!!! We had to pay attention whenever outside, but could drink coffee on our back stoop and watch huge brown gears catching salmon a short distance away. You could use binoculars to get a really close look at them, but didn't need to. It was especially good because not everyone in our group could walk easily. Once we flew into the camp by jet from Anchorage to King Salmon, then float plane to the camp. Another time we flew a small plane from Anchorage to small landing strip, then transferred to a smaller float plane for the last leg to the camp. We saw grizzlies on the bus tour into Denali, but not near the closeness and the amount of self-controlled time like Brooks Lodge. You can fly into Brooks for the day, but a simple cabin with indoor plumbing was great. Check it out on internet!

Indiana
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6. Re: Besy bear viewing?

Thanks to all for your recommendations! Perhaps am being over cautious but have heard some safety concerns with all the small planes in Alaska accounting for disproportionate number of commuter airline crashes. Since travelling with young children we are very safety conscious. Any good way of checking out safety records of a particular outfit?

Bridgewater
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7. Re: Besy bear viewing?

"Perhaps am being over cautious but have heard some safety concerns with all the small planes in Alaska accounting for disproportionate number of commuter airline crashes. "

I almost spit my coffee out when I read this. Since I was taking several small flights (all 4-seaters) in winter the first time in went to AK, I asked the same question. The answer I got was, "if they are still in business, they haven't crashed." Most places only have one or two planes, unless you stick with Rust's or ERA which have a couple of more. I was amazed to find that many of these AK "kids" were flying before they were driving.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8. Re: Besy bear viewing?

You can research aircraft accidents by state at the NTSB website. Sure they have had a number of accidents but when you consider how many small planes and bush pilots fly in AK, I would be surprised if it is a disproportionate number.

I have flown small planes there on three occasions (Denali Tours twice and r/t from Soldotna to Lake Clark NP for a bear viewing overnight), and I would not hesitate to do it again.

Indiana
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9. Re: Besy bear viewing?

Thanks for the recommendation!

Ketchikan
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for Ketchikan
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10. Re: Besy bear viewing?

I know a lot of pilots in Alaska and they are all very safety conscious. Weather is more often a concern and that is true of the big jets as well as the small planes. Yes, we have plane crashes here because we use planes like the lower 48 uses cars. Sometimes in the course of a work day decisions are made to go on with business as usual when weather is marginal as was the case in several high profile crashes in recent years. It would be interesting to do some research and see if we do indeed have a disproportionate number of crashes. I bet the number is larger than most states, but small compared to the number of flight hours.....just my guess until I take a run at the statistics. That said, I think you have a much better chance of getting in a car crash on the way to the airport than you do dying in plane in Alaska. From USA Today this week; "Last year, 33,963 people died in traffic crashes in the USA, an 8.9% decline from 2008 and the lowest total since 1954, according to the Department of Transportation. The fatality rate of 1.16 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was the lowest since the government started tracking it in 1966."