Top five places to see the incredible wildlife of Alaska
The BBC’s latest wildlife documentary series has caused some excitement here at A&K. If you haven’t seen it yet, Wild Alaska features the spectacular annual salmon migration through America’s largest state. Following along are the animals that depend on it as a rich source of food.
From walrus and orca whale feeding off the frozen coast, to packs of wolf and giant brown bear vying for the best fishing positions, this three-part series captures the dramatic trials and challenges of Alaska’s resident creatures through stunning, high-definition footage.
We’ve been inspired by Wild Alaska to create a list of our top five places to watch wildlife in the far reaches of America’s north.
1. Denali National Park, Alaska
Home to Mount Denali, the USA’s highest peak, Denali National Park is a vast, untouched wilderness just a couple of hundred miles north of Anchorage. At almost 15,000km2, the region provides a fertile habitat for some of Alaska’s most captivating wildlife, including black bear, grizzly bear, moose, wolf and myriad bird species.
Accompanied by one of our expert guides, you can choose to hike through pristine forest, or the more adventurous can even attempt to scale all 20,310ft of Mount Denali itself. When snow is on the ground, we can arrange a dog-sled tour, or for a truly breath-taking vista you can climb aboard a helicopter and see the landscape from above.
Stay at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, which enjoys an impressive location overlooking Mount Denali.
2. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Head due south of Anchorage and you’ll arrive at Seward, a tiny city overlooking the icy waters of the Gulf of Alaska. From here you can board a cruiser and journey into the frozen fjords that line the coast.
This otherworldly place seems unable to shake off the last Ice Age, and you’ll have a good chance of spotting humpback whale and orca from the deck of your boat. The impressive peaks and carved glacial valleys of the Kenai Fjords are also home to sea otter, bald eagle, puffin and sea lion.
3. Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska
Further to Alaska’s east, where the state borders with Canada, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park lies resplendent. Magnificently vast, this park is almost six times the size of Yellowstone. Shaped by imposing mountains, crystal glaciers and deep rocky canyons, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife fans alike.
On a guided hike or kayak tour you might spot large species such as black and grizzly bear, caribou, wolf and even bison. Smaller species including lynx, wolverine, porcupine and beaver also call this remote region home. This is a territory that’s ripe for exploration and where you’ll never be far from a dramatic viewpoint or wildlife sighting.
Stay at the Ultima Thule Lodge for a true wilderness experience in Wrangell-St. Elias.
4. The Great Bear Rainforest, Canada
The chance to see stunning wildlife continues beyond Alaska’s borders. Head further south, to where Canada’s province of British Columbia meets the Pacific Ocean, and you’ll reach the Great Bear Rainforest. Part of the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, this lush, fertile region offers protection for countless species of plant and animal.
Home to giant tree species such as western red cedar and Sitka spruce, which can grow as tall as 100m, the Great Bear Rainforest also offers the chance to see cougar, wolf and the mysterious Kermode bear. Referred to locally as the Spirit Bear, this rare subspecies of the American black bear has a unique cream-coloured coat. At a distance, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d spotted a polar bear among the trees. Your best chances of seeing a Spirit Bear here are between September and October.
Stay at the Spirit Bear Lodge – a unique place that is owned and operated by the Kitasoo people of British Columbia.
5. Arctic Canada
For an altogether different wildlife experience, head north to the frozen landscapes of the Canadian Arctic. The Northwest Territories and province of Nunavut spread from Canada’s centre to the icy archipelago of islands to the west of Greenland. This is polar bear country. You can travel across the tundra in a 4x4 or enjoy the thrill of a dog sled in search of these snow-coloured giants, with potential sightings of Arctic fox and caribou along the way.
We can organise a boat cruise to take you out into the frozen waters for a chance of coming face-to-face with narwhal or bowhead whale. At Ennadai Lake, we can arrange a fishing trip to catch Arctic grayling. Keep an eye out for wolf, wolverine and grizzly bear in search of food along the lake’s shoreline.
The second episode of Wild Alaska airs on Wednesday 26 July at 8pm on BBC1, with the final episode showing on Sunday 30 July.
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