Alaska Waters is located in the city of Wrangell in Southeast Alaska. We offer excellent opportunities to view and photograph bears in the wild at AnAn Bear and Wildlife Observatory from early July through the month of August. AnAn is an opportunity to view bears (both black and brown bears) in the wild at about 10 meters distance. You can set up a tripod and photograph bears catching salmon in waterfalls from this distance. Additionally, there are usually lots of Bald Eagles and seals at the AnAn Lagoon for viewing/photographic opportunities. These tours typically depart Wrangell City Dock at 8:30 AM but be sure to check-in, because departure time is subject to change depending on what the bears are doing.
We travel by covered, heated boats the thirty-five miles to AnAn via Eastern Passage, a beautiful boat ride in protected waters between Wrangell Island and the Mainland. When we get to AnAn we will off-load at the trailhead and be greeted by US Forest Service personnel, who will provide a brief orientation. We will then assemble, and walk the approximately ˝ mile to the observatory on a boardwalk trail that is reasonably flat with bridges over waterways. This walk takes 20 to 30 minutes and has uneven terrain and numerous stairs. Clients will need to be reasonably fit and able to walk well. You will be accompanied by Alaska Waters’ Guides every step of the way. All of our Guides are Alaska Residents with extensive wilderness experience. Your guide will interpret local flora and fauna as well as history and Tlingit Culture as it pertains to the AnAn area. We usually spend about 3 hours at the Observatory, but will stay longer if the bears are late or the group wants additional time. Often times, the group is saturated with bear viewing within about 3 hours and if the consensus is to get to the food on the boat we will leave accordingly. Every day is different, we are in nature and things happen in a natural way. If we are to capitalize on the opportunities, we must be flexible.
We get to know our bears fairly personally. Some are quite tolerant of people, and some are not---just like humans. For me, the greatest attraction is to view the different personalities displayed by the bears. AnAn is an ideal opportunity for this type of observation because the bears are fishing with little regard for the people watching them, sometimes as close as just a few feet away. There are both Black and Brown Bears at AnAn and I typically meet more than twenty bears a year right on the trail while walking into the observatory. I am one of just a very few guides who are permitted to guide people on-shore at AnAn. I am limited to no more than 10 people at one time. The Forest Service has a target maximum of 20 people at one time on the observatory deck. This is really quite low impact. There's a great photo blind right on the stream below the observation deck where you can take photos of the bears catching fish at less than 10 meters. No more than 6 people at one time are allowed into the photo blind, and you have to sign up to use it. Clients cannot stay in the blind for longer than 30 minutes to allow everyone a chance for the experience. This has the additional benefit of keeping the number of people on the deck to a manageable level. We normally spend about 3 to 4 hours at the observatory on the trip. This is in addition to any bears we watch while we walk in or out. In my experience, most people are saturated with bear viewing in that time and are beginning to think about food. We're not allowed to carry any food on-shore, so all food is left at the boat. I'm not stuck on any particular time for viewing, it just turns out that usually it amounts to these viewing times. If my clients want to stay longer, it's OK with me, although I try to heed the wishes of the group as a whole. You will see as many as fifteen or more different individual bears depending on when you choose to come. There is more Brown Bear activity early and late in the season (early July and late August), and more Black Bear activity in the peak of the salmon run (15 July through 15 August). I'll sell out my annual allocation of AnAn days by late April in a normal year. Early reservations are highly recommended.
We arrive back in Wrangell approximately 2:30 PM or about 6 hours after departure. This is an all day affair. You will want to bring food for the return trip to Wrangell. After the walking and bear viewing, you will be hungry. Alaska Waters provides soft drinks and bottled water for your convenience.
Alaskans guide all of our tours. Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area as well as knowledge of the local flora and fauna. All guides have Emergency Trauma Technician (or higher) medical certification. All guides are licensed, certified by the US Coast Guard and all of our operations are fully insured. Safety is our highest priority in all activities.
Thank-you for thinking of us, don't hesitate to call or e-mail us if you have further questions.