Bear Viewing

Nothing screams Alaska like hopping on a helicopter to look at the bears in their natural habitat! And Bear-Viewing has been the #1 excursion out of Homer for decades. Bear tours make for a fascinating excursion if your heart yearns for raw nature and you want to feel like you are living inside a nature documentary or a National Geographic Magazine.

Alaska is world-renowned for giving visitors a glimpse—up close and personal—of the majestic Coastal Brown Bear. 98% of all brown bears in the country live in Alaska—many of them just across the Inlet from Homer.

At Alaska Luxury Adventures we work with the premier, cream-of-the-crop excursion partners, to offer guests the incredible opportunity of taking a plane into the heart of Katmai or Lake Clark National Park to spend a truly wild and unbear-lievable day watching these incredible animals.

This experience is not one to be missed, and your memories of this incredible adventure will last a lifetime.
Keep scrolling to learn more about Alaska's bears!


Best Bear Viewing in Alaska

Bears wander throughout all of Alaska, and Homer is no exception—especially for black bears, but there are places a short flight from Homer which are uniquely the bears' home.

Places where they return year after year in abundance, and you can view them, fully in their own wild habitat. It's not uncommon for mama bears to attempt to hide their babies in and among the people visiting these bear-grounds.

Katmai National Park 

Located across from Kodiak Island, Katmai encompasses more than 4 million acres of pristine wilderness: meadows filled with wildflowers, majestic snowcapped mountains, glacier-fed streams, and an abundance of bears.

Nestled in the heart of Katmai National Park is Brooks Falls, where the Brooks River boasts natural salmon runs that are the best in a state teeming with salmon. This simple fact draws bears from all over to have their chance at these delectable fish—and it makes it possible for you to have an unparalleled viewing experience.

Most of the time there are at least a half dozen bears actively feeding, and at the height of the salmon run, you can see as many as 50 brown bears only a few feet from the observation platforms.

Lake Clark National Park 

This park is located about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. This incredible area was established as a national park in 1980 by the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act. It is loaded with streams and lakes vital to Alaska's salmon fisheries, as well as two volcanoes: Iliamna and Redoubt, both of which make up the incredible 360-degree views from Homer.

Red (Sockeye) Salmon plays a major role both in Alaska's ecosystem and its economy, and the Kvichak River, inside this incredible preserve, is the world's most productive watershed for Sockeye. As a result, large populations of brown bears are attracted to the area, making bear-viewing phenomenal here.

Denali National Park

Congress created this park back in 1917—before Alaska was even a state, specifically to protect its incredible wildlife. They then tripled its size in 1980. There are all kinds of animals that call Denali National Park Home, including 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds and 14 species of fish.

The bears that wander this incredibly wild and beautiful place are primarily black and grizzly bears, and sightings in its vast wilderness are not as common or as easy as those in both Lake Clark and Katmai—where you will visit if you choose a Bear Adventure as part of your All-Inclusive Package.
two bears
two bears


Bear Training

Yes, Brown and Grizzy bears can weigh between 800 and 1200 pounds. And yes, they are wild and fearsome, with powerful claws and sharp teeth. Also, majestic and beautiful. But our bear adventures are the safest way to witness bears, accompanied by experienced guides who know how to make you a part of the scenery, as you thrill to these wild animals at home in theirs.

And, while you will be given a safety briefing before you board one of the planes that will take you to their playground, flying over and around the glorious mountains, volcanoes, and glaciers of Kachemak Bay, it doesn't hurt to know a little something before you go.

If a bear sees you, adhere to these steps:
  • First and foremost: Avoid it and give it the opportunity to avoid you. Mostly they are only interested in protecting their food, their babies, and their "personal space." Aren't we all?
  • Never run. They are much faster than you realize, and you can't outrun them. And, much like dogs, they will chase a fleeing animal.
  • Try to make yourself look bigger by staying close to others and waving your arms slowly in the air over your head. Try to back slowly away, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground.
  • If a bear is curious, he may come closer, or even stand on its hind legs to get a better look (or smell). But a bear that is standing is curious, not threatening.
  • Talk to a bear in your normal voice, letting him (or her) know you are human.
  • Don't worry; our guides will be with you, they will remind you. And protect you.


Just the Bear Facts

Alaska is known for its wildlife. Here is what you never knew you always wanted to know about Alaska's bears.

Black Bears

Black bears are the most abundant bear in Alaska, with an estimated 100,000 of them. The good news is that they are also the smallest. They are only about 30 inches at the shoulders and 60 inches from nose to tail. Like most mammals, the males are bigger than the females, weighing 180-200 pounds in the spring when they come out of hibernation. Of course then they eat and eat and gain about 20% more weight by the fall. Believe it or not, black bears can range in color from white to brown or reddish brown, some even running to a bluish color. Their muzzles are brown and they often have a white tuft on their chest. They can be found anywhere there are forests, and are incredibly curious. They are quite common in and around Homer, especially in coastal areas.

Brown Bears

Brown bears are bigger than black bears and they have a prominent hump but smaller ears than their black relatives. They also have straighter, bigger claws. Ever wonder why the hump? It's basically pure muscle to facilitate bursts of speed—so they can capture moose or caribou. But mostly, these bears hang around the shoreline, eating piles of fish. Like people, they eat a lot of other things too, especially berries, grasses, cow parsnip, roots, and even squirrels. They're quite a bit bigger than black bears, up to 1500 pounds! All bears are naturally solitary, but they do hang out in groups in places where there are especially fantastic feeding opportunities—like creeks and rivers teeming with salmon. Because of this, they actually have developed a complex language to express their feelings and minimize fights. Pretty cool, right?

Grizzly Bears

Grizzlies are actually considered a subset of brown bears, and are also usually brown (although like black bears they really can run the gamut of color). They are one of the rarer bears in Alaska, and spend most of their time in landlocked areas of Alaska at higher elevations. They tend to be smaller than brown bears because the eating isn't as good. Most people don't even try to tell the difference between grizzlies and brown bears, and you will often see those names used interchangeably.

Kodiak Bears

The largest bear in Alaska, Kodiak Bears live exclusively on the Kodiak archipelago about 130 miles from Homer. Kodiak bears are the largest bears in the world. A large male can be 10 feet tall standing on his hind legs, and 5 feet tall on all fours! While they definitely eat meat, they spend more time eating grass, plants, and berries, and their meat of choice is unquestionably fish. With the fish so plentiful, they simply won't spend the effort to hunt mammals. Only one person in 75 years has been killed by a Kodiak bear.

Polar Bears

One of the first things you may notice when you get to Alaska is how green it is. Lush, beautiful, sweeping green across meadows, trees and coating the mountains. Polar Bears are white because it is a camouflage for hunting in the ice and snow. What that means for you is that you are highly unlikely to one, because they are found in the northern polar regions, where they like to eat seals, walruses and beluga whales. They have longer necks, narrower heads, and ears which are kind of freakishly small. They also have big feet to help them walk on thin ice and also for swimming. The bottoms of their feet are almost completely covered in fur. They're usually between 600-1200 pounds although they can be up to 1700 pounds (at least the males). Oh yes, and they're white.

Frequently-Asked Questions about Bear Tours

When is the best time of year to go?
May 15 - September 30
There are always bears during these times but if you want fewer people, go in May and September.


Are bear tours safe?

The short answer is yes. Your guides are experts. They know and understand bear behavior, and make sure that your human behavior causes no confrontations.

You won't be alone out there in bear country.  Not only will you have your friends and family, you will have experienced guides with you.  As far as bears go, there is safety in numbers.

In fact, there has never been a documented case of a bear attack on a group of three or more humans.  

Stick together, and listen to the experts and you will have nothing to worry about.  Just the experience of a lifetime.

What should I bring with me?

Make sure you bring your phone (or a camera), but keep in mind that flash cameras can disturb the bears, so always turn off the flash when taking your pictures. You can also bring things like binoculars, water bottles, bug spray, and sunglasses. And, of course, wear layers because Alaskan weather can be unpredictable.

Never ever leave any of your things unattended. Bears are naturally curious and will view these things as toys. And you won't get it back.

Properly storing and managing any food you bring is also key to your experience. It's imperative that bears do not see people as a source of food, so you must consume your food only in designated areas—including gum and candy. And most places have a restriction on bringing any fish.

What is a bear excursion like?

A good bear viewing company will know where the bears are before you ever leave the ground. You will board either a big wheel plane or a floatplane and head out over the extraordinary mountains, volcanos, lakes, and streams of Alaska on your way to see the bears.

You will need to be able to get in and out of a plane and walk some distance—how far depends on the excursion—in order to get to the best viewing places.

You will then have time to thrilled to the incredible majesty and beauty of these wild animals in their playground, before re-boarding your plane for the return flight. Most bear excursions are around five hours of raw Alaskan beauty and wildlife.
Are you ready to begin living your wild dreams? Choose a bear excursion as part of your All-Inclusive Vacation with Alaska Luxury Adventures.


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