Top 5 Wildlife Watching Spots in Alaska During the Summer

Alaska, a land of pristine wilderness and breathtaking landscapes, offers some of the most spectacular wildlife watching opportunities, especially during the summer months. With the snow melted and the days at their longest, the natural world of Alaska comes alive, presenting travelers with the chance to witness an array of wildlife in their natural habitats. From the mighty grizzly bears to the majestic bald eagles, the summer season is ideal for exploring the great outdoors and enjoying the best of Alaska’s wildlife. Here are the top 5 wildlife watching spots in Alaska that are a must-visit during the summertime.

Key Takeaways

  • Denali National Park offers views of Denali, Wonder Lake, and potential wildlife encounters with bears, moose, and Dall sheep.
  • Kenai Fjords National Park is perfect for whale watching, spotting sea otters, and observing seabird colonies.
  • Katmai National Park and Preserve is renowned for its large population of grizzly bears, especially around the Brooks River.
  • Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve provides opportunities to see humpback whales, sea lions, and tidewater glaciers.
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is vast and offers chances to see caribou, mountain goats, and diverse birdlife.

1. Denali National Park

1. Denali National Park

Denali National Park, a jewel in the Alaskan wilderness, is a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts and adventurers alike. The park is home to Denali, North America’s tallest peak, standing at a majestic 20,310 feet. The park’s diverse landscapes offer a backdrop for a variety of activities, from guided hikes and white water rafting to learning about the park’s resident sled dogs.

Traveling through Denali provides a chance to encounter Alaska’s iconic wildlife, including bears, moose, and Dall sheep. For those seeking a unique view, chartering a bush plane offers an unparalleled aerial perspective of the park’s vastness and the dramatic mountain scenery.

Here are some activities you can enjoy in Denali National Park:

  • Guided hikes to explore the park’s natural beauty
  • Visits to the official Visitor Center for educational insights
  • White water rafting for an adrenaline rush
  • Learning about the park’s sled dogs from knowledgeable rangers

Whether you’re gazing upon the summit of Denali on a clear day or embarking on an adventure across its untamed landscapes, Denali National Park promises an awe-inspiring experience that captures the essence of Alaska’s wild heart.

2. Kenai Fjords National Park

2. Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park offers a breathtaking summer wildlife watching experience. Visitors can expect to encounter a diverse array of marine life, including orcas, sea lions, and harbor seals. Bird enthusiasts will be delighted by the presence of puffins and bald eagles, while porpoises glide through the waters.

Kayaking through the park’s fjords provides an intimate view of the stunning Alaskan scenery, accompanied by the symphony of cracking ice. For those seeking adventure, options like deep sea fishing and glacier dog sledding are available, offering unique ways to explore the park’s natural beauty.

Exit Glacier, a prominent feature within the park, serves as a stark indicator of climate change with its significant retreat over the past century. This glacier’s accessibility allows for up-close observation and reflection on the environment’s fragility.

Whether you’re gliding across the water or trekking near the icefields, Kenai Fjords National Park is a place where the wild heart of Alaska beats strong.

3. Katmai National Park and Preserve

3. Katmai National Park and Preserve

Katmai National Park and Preserve is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering a unique spectacle of grizzly bears in their natural habitat. The park is renowned for its grizzly bear viewing opportunities, particularly at Brooks Lodge, where visitors can safely observe these majestic creatures from various viewpoints.

The park’s diverse landscape includes the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a testament to Alaska’s volcanic activity. This area provides a stark contrast to the lush bear habitats, showcasing the park’s geological wonders.

Katmai’s remote wilderness allows for an intimate connection with nature, where the wildness of the Alaskan frontier is palpable.

For those seeking an immersive experience, the Glaciers & Grizzlies Adventure tour offers a chance to witness grizzly bears foraging along the beaches of Chinitna Bay. The tour’s itinerary may vary, but the promise of encountering these iconic animals in either Lake Clark or Katmai National Park is a constant allure.

  • Brooks Lodge: Famous grizzly bear viewing site
  • Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes: Popular volcanic site
  • Chinitna Bay: Spot grizzly bears foraging

Each location within the park offers a distinct perspective on the wildness and beauty of Alaska, making Katmai National Park and Preserve a must-visit destination for wildlife watching during the summer.

4. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

4. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a realm of breathtaking vistas and offers a unique symphony of thunderous calving glaciers and serene marine wilderness. Visitors can experience the awe of witnessing a female humpback whale, known as #219, majestically surfacing in the park’s waters, a testament to the rich marine life that thrives here.

The park’s dynamic landscape is a testament to nature’s power, with glaciers that carve the terrain and shape the ecosystem. A visit to Glacier Bay is not just a visual feast but an educational journey, as one learns about the impacts of climate change on these ancient ice giants.

  • Witness the grandeur of calving glaciers
  • Observe diverse marine wildlife, including humpback whales
  • Explore the park by boat for an immersive experience

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a sanctuary for those seeking to connect with nature’s raw beauty and the cycle of life that persists amidst the ice and ocean.

5. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

5. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is a vast and untamed wilderness, offering a plethora of activities for the adventurous spirit. Spanning over 13 million acres, it is the largest national park in the United States, providing visitors with endless opportunities to explore.

The park’s rugged landscape is a treasure trove for outdoor enthusiasts. From the historic mining town of Kennecott to the scenic drives along McCarthy Road and Nabesna Road, there’s a journey for every traveler.

Wildlife watching is a highlight here, with chances to see diverse species in their natural habitat. For those seeking a bird’s eye view, flightseeing tours grant awe-inspiring vistas of the park’s glaciers and peaks. Hikers can tread along numerous trails, each offering unique vistas and challenges.

Here are the top activities to consider when visiting Wrangell-St. Elias:

  • Driving the scenic McCarthy Road and Nabesna Road
  • Exploring the historic copper mining town of Kennecott
  • Embarking on a flightseeing adventure
  • Hiking through the park’s varied landscapes
  • Gathering travel tips to maximize your experience


As our journey through Alaska’s top wildlife watching spots during the summer comes to an end, we are reminded of the state’s vast beauty and the unique opportunities it offers for wildlife enthusiasts. From the grizzly bears of Denali to the moose and Dall sheep that roam the national parks, Alaska provides a front-row seat to some of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles. Whether you’re soaring above the landscapes in a bush plane, trekking along rugged trails, or simply enjoying the view from a quiet spot by the lake, the memories made here are sure to be as enduring as the land itself. Remember to travel responsibly and respect the natural habitats of the wildlife you come to admire. Alaska’s summer splendor awaits, offering experiences that will resonate with you long after your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Alaska for wildlife watching?

The best time to visit Alaska for wildlife watching is during the summer months, typically between May and September, when the weather is clearer and many animals are active.

Can I see grizzly bears in Alaska during the summer?

Yes, grizzly bears are often spotted in summer as they gather around rivers to feast on salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

What kind of wildlife can I expect to see in Denali National Park?

In Denali National Park, you may encounter bears, moose, Dall sheep, and a variety of other wildlife, especially if you take a bush plane tour for a broader view of the park.

Are there guided tours available for wildlife watching in Alaska?

Yes, there are guided tours such as the Glaciers & Grizzlies Adventure and the Denali Discovery Adventure that offer structured wildlife watching experiences.

What are some activities available in Alaska during the summer tourist season?

During Alaska’s summer tourist season, visitors can enjoy kayaking, hiking, deep-sea fishing, whale watching, flightseeing, and boat trips.

Is Anchorage a good base for wildlife watching in Alaska?

Anchorage is an excellent base for wildlife watching, offering access to nearby parks, trails, and excursions, as well as cultural attractions and local cuisine.

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