Alaska.org - Ask Bob

Bear and Whale Watching in June


Q: I want to see bears and whales on my trip to Alaska. I'll be in Anchorage June 13-16th, and then I board a cruise ship with ports of call in Sitka, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. I was considering Redoubt Bay Lodge for bear viewing. Any other suggestions for where to go to see these animals? Thanks—Mike

A: Your best bet for bear viewing may be to depart from the Anchorage area. Redoubt Bay Lodge, which you asked about, may be the nicest bear viewing lodge in Alaska, less than an hour by floatplane from Anchorage. It's run by Within The Wild, a company known for their high-end service and cuisine. The bears typically show up there right around June 12-15, so you're probably safe—but no guarantees. The only drawback is that bear viewing day-trippers also use the area. However, they're only in the area for a few hours in the middle of the day. The rest of the time, the lodge has the bear viewing to itself.

Mid-June is not a very good time for bear viewing in the Southeast Alaska ports of calls you'll be visiting. You can see them a lot in May on the beaches foraging for stuff to eat in the intertidal zone. In mid-June, they spend more time feeding on spring vegetation in meadows away from the shore (mostly). By early July, they show up near the mouths of streams and rivers to feast on spawning salmon. You might see bear watching trips offered in Ketchikan for mid-June, but ask the operator whether the odds of seeing the bears are good.

As for the whale watching, your cruise of the Inside Passage is the spot to do this. I'd suggest Allen Marine Tours in Juneau. My understanding is they have not failed to see whales on one of their cruises in many years. If you've already booked another excursion for Juneau, Allen Marine's Sitka tour would be a close second.