Anan Creek Wildlife Viewing Site, AK
If you want to see bears, few places rival Anan Creek Wildlife Viewing Site. In order to visit, you first need to get a permit. The US Forest Service administers Anan, and they issue 60 permits per day from July 5 to August 25. Adult permits are $10 per person. Before July 5 and after August 25 permits are not required, but because salmon aren’t returning bears don’t frequent the area. Click here to learn more and purchase permits.
Once anchored, take your dinghy ashore. You’ll want to bring appropriate clothing for the weather, for both hiking and standing outside for several hours. You’ll have world-class photo opportunities, so if you’ve been carting around camera gear this is a good place to break it out. Bring water, but not food. You’re in bear country. Bear spray is a good idea.
Call the rangers on the VHF and ask permission to land. Come ashore at the designated landing area and secure your dinghy in a way that you’ll be able to access it several hours later. The rangers, equipped with large firearms, will give you instructions on walking up to the viewing area and may accompany you on the trail.
The trail itself is partially boardwalk, which can be wet and slippery. Where it’s not boardwalk it’s muddy. Total length is about half a mile and there are more than 300 stairs.
Two viewing areas are at the end of the trail: an upper area with excellent views, and a lower “blind” that puts you at bear level. We’ve seen brown bears and black bears here, catching salmon, sharing it with their cubs, and discarding the undesirable parts (most of the fish!) for the eagles. We’ve even seen bears get hit in the side of the head by leaping salmon.
The attraction to Anan is two-fold. First, it’s rare to see the concentration of bears elsewhere. Second, when watching bears in “normal” settings, you’re at a comfortable (safe) distance, often on a boat or in a dinghy. At Anan, you’re right there, mere feet from the bears. Highly recommended.
Commercial tours: Because of the anchoring challenge, many cruisers visit Anan by commercial tour boat from Wrangell. This can also simplify the permit process.
Forest Service cabin and dock: The US Forest Service maintains a public use cabin and dock in Anan Bay. Use of this dock by visiting cruising boats is prohibited.
Mooring Ball: No
Fuel Available: No
Potable Water: No
Cell Service: None
Not an overnight anchorage.
Fee is $10 and reservations are required during the bear-watching season.
Slowboat Tips and Activities
Spend way more time than you planned watching and photographing the bears as they catch salmon in the creek.
Unfortunately, anchorage at Anan is somewhat tenuous. The bottom has poor holding and the seabed is steep-to. It’s difficult to get a satisfactory set without the potential of swinging too close to shore or dragging anchor into the abyss. Despite the challenge, we (and many other cruisers) successfully anchor at Anan. Some prefer to leave a capable crew member onboard in case the boat needs to be moved. This crew member can also shuttle everyone else to shore, simplifying the problem of dealing with a dinghy in an area with 20-foot tides.
Black and brown (Grizzly) bears, eagles, salmon.
Last update of this page:
Last in-person visit by Slowboat team: July 5, 2018