Visitors on this circuit will be immersed in Alaska’s wild landscapes. It is a seven-day expedition where visitors can experience all three species of North American bears: polar, brown, and black, as well as two subspecies of brown bears: grizzly and coastal
Bears are impressive creatures; they are icons of wilderness, both peaceful and powerful. They inspire poetry, stories and art. In Alaska we have four types of bears: polar, grizzly, black and brown. We aim to observe and enjoy each of these bears during our trip across America’s Last Frontier.
Last updated: October 2, 2019
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Arrive in Fairbanks. Enjoy this scenic and historic city, visit local protected areas such as Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Stop by the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center. Allow yourself to adjust to Alaska time. Meals and Lodging on your own.
Meet your guide in Fairbanks at 5 pm for a pre-trip meeting/ introduction. Meals and Lodging on your own.
It is a beautiful flight north from Fairbanks, over the Yukon River and then the Brooks Range before descending over the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge and landing at the Inupiat Village of Kaktovik. From the airport it is a short drive to the coastal lagoon where we’ll meet the captain of the boat. After donning our parkas we’ll head out for several hours of watching polar bears on the Barrier Islands nearby. From our captain we will also learn about modern Inupiat Eskimo life in the Arctic. Birding for arctic species should also be good. When we’ve had enough bear watching and/ or are feeling cold, we’ll take a quick tour of Kaktovik before flying back to Fairbanks for the night.
It is a scenic drive from Fairbanks to Denali. We’ll get an early start so we have plenty of time to hike and explore the tundra. These grizzlies don’t have a concentrated food source to bring them together and are spread thinly across the landscape. We expect to see them gorging on berries, but it is possible we will only see tracks or scat. Either way we’ll spend the day hiking and learning about grizzlies in and near Denali before returning to Fairbanks for the night.
We hop a jet to cross the state and then in Juneau we transfer to a float plane for a beautiful flight over deep fjords and blue glaciers. Welcome to Admiralty Island, sometimes called Xootsnoowú (fortress of the bears) in Tlingit. After wading ashore at Pack Creek we have the bulk of the day to explore along the beach and into the dark rainforest. Brown Bears should be lining the creek feeding on pink and maybe even silver salmon. We’ll have 5 or 6 hours with the bears before winging back to Juneau where we’ll spend the night. It will be a long and wonderful day.
Awake early to meet our charter which wings us south over the Tongass to the town of Wrangell. Wrangell, Alaska is a quintessential fishing town in Southeast. We’ll have a little time in the morning to walk the streets and find some breakfast before heading to the dock for a breathtaking boat ride deeper into the lush green rainforest. Our destination is Anan Creek where we expect to find black bears feeding on pink salmon. From the observation platform near the falls we may get to watch bears plucking fish from the water. On years with big runs of Pink Salmon the creek is literally full of fish! We’ll have the bulk of the day at Anan before a final boat ride back to Wrangell where the trip concludes.
Flights back home on your own. Alaska Air flies from Wrangell to Seattle via Juneau departing at 10:30 am or via Ketchikan at 4:20 pm. Meals and Lodging on your own.
Such a joy to spend days where time was meaningless. A wonderful adventure and I would like to return next year for a longer, more challenging trip.
You mentioned to me in an email that you have terrific guides - you do indeed. Dave is a superb guide. He is personable, knowledgeable about the Arctic, and has excellent group management skills. I appreciated the time he spent teaching me to read the map, which is not easy without trails. He allowed Adrian and me to hike at our own pace and he encouraged all of us to explore the area surrounding our campsites. I know the others would concur in my praise.
3 nights lodging in Fairbanks August 28 – 30
Day-trip to Kaktovik to see Polar Bears
Day Trip to Denali to look for Grizzly Bears
Flight from Fairbanks to Juneau
Day-trip to Pack Creek
Charter flight from Pack Creek to Wrangell
2 nights lodging in Wrangell
Day- trip to Anan Creek
Professional Guide Service
Lodging beyond what is listed here
Meals except picnic lunches August 29 – Sept 1
Transportation to Fairbanks prior to the trip, nor any transportation from Wrangell after the trip
Gratuity for guide
We will travel from the north coast to the southern end of Alaska’s panhandle on this trip and will experience a wide variety of landscapes and weather. Expect cold and windy conditions on the Arctic Coast. You’ll want a winter parka. In Denali we may have relative warmth and sun, or it may snow. In Southeast Alaska wet conditions prevail so be prepared for rain.