Your Guide to Bear Viewing in Alaska

The West side of the Cook Inlet is a storied bear watcher’s paradise – home to thousands of bears. In the guide below, we’ll look at the most common questions asked about bear watching in Alaska.

Alaska has three species of bears: black bears, brown bears and polar bears. For our Cook Inlet bear tour, visitors are most likely to see brown bears, though we have seen our fair share of black bears, too! Polar bears are the only species of bears you definitely won’t see on our fly-out bear viewing trips. You’ll have to go quite a way up north for that!

There are so many bears in Alaska that even if you don’t go on a fly-out bear viewing trip, you still have a pretty good chance of seeing one! In the summer on the Kenai Peninsula, lucky visitors might spot a brown bear along the Kenai River catching salmon, or a black bear in the Kenai Mountains. Flying over to the West side of the Cook Inlet though, is a fantastic way to give yourself an excellent chance to spot brown bears. There are hundreds in the area and the fact that we fly to such a remote area gives you a great chance of seeing the bears undisturbed by human influence.
Alaskan bears begin to prepare for hibernation in late fall, before the cold weather of winter sets in. It is then that brown bears go into their dens and begin to hibernate. For this reason, our flight-seeing trips start to wind down at the end of August.
For your best chance to see brown bears, visit Alaska between May and August. Brown bears are drawn to the influx of returning salmon in early autumn, and that’s when visitors have a great chance of seeing them around rivers and streams. Similarly, summer and autumn is prime time to see black bears.
Bear viewing in Alaska is not dangerous – professional guides do not let their guests get close to the wildlife, and the vast majority will have a firearm on hand in case of emergencies. At River Rock Lodge, we have an extra layer of protection because all of our bear viewing tours are conducted by boat. Guests get a unique vantage point from the water, and it’s an extra layer of protection that our visitors love!
If you want to see bears in Alaska, you’ll give yourself the best chance by booking a fly-out trip to the West side of the Cook Inlet – it’s one of the most densely populated bear areas in the world! That said, if you spend enough time in Alaska, you’re bound to see a few bears even when you’re not on a bear viewing trip. That’s just life in the north! But for visitors short on time, we definitely recommend a fly-out trip.
We take all comers on our 2.5-3hr. fly-out bear viewing trips. You don’t need to be staying at the lodge to fly with us, just give us a call and we’ll get you on the schedule! Of course, visitors who stay with us enjoy a discount…so if you’re thinking of bundling a bear viewing trip and accommodation, get in touch!
Interested in a fly-out bear viewing trip?




Bear Viewing Location

West Side of Cook Inlet

Departure Location

River Rock Lodge

Departure Times

7:00am8:30am12 Noon1:30pm

Activity Level


Our Fly-Out Bear Viewing Trip in Pictures

Ready to book your fly-out bear viewing trip in summer 2024?
Call 907-741-7562 or 907-953-3608 today!

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