Best Wildlife Holidays in Alaska: Photo Gallery
Award-winning travel writer and advocate for responsible tourism, Will Gray, is back to share his favourite destinations for amazing animal encounters. This week, the spotlight falls on Alaska, as Will reveals the incredible wildlife you could spot on a trip to north America’s last frontier.
If getting off the beaten track is what you’re after, look no further than Alaska. The US state is sprawling and largely uninhabited, with mountain ranges that create a rugged, wild beauty, and glaciers and endless tundra look almost other-worldly. As if the landscape alone wasn’t enough of a reason to book a plane ticket, the state’s spectacular scenery is matched by its wildlife. Here are five creatures it’s worth travelling to Alaska to see.
Alaska is a whale watcher’s paradise. No less than nine types of the cetacean swim through its waters, including beluga and grey whales, while orcas and humpbacks are the most regularly spotted.
If you visit Alaska during summer, you’ve got a good chance of a whale sighting. Orcas live in the waters all around Alaska’s coast, including Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage, and are best spotted between early May and June. June and July are the best times to spot a humpback whale – over 500 of them call the area their home during summer.
Where to see whales: Glaciers, Grizzlies and Whales is a 6-night tour that includes a cruise through the Icy Strait in search of humpbacks.
When rivers in Alaska squirm with juicy fish during the annual salmon run, grizzly bears smack their lips in anticipation. Dozens of bears gather at particularly good spots, like Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park where salmon sometimes leap straight into the jaws of waiting bears.
The best time to spot a grizzly is between June and September (late June – late July for bears fishing at Brooks Falls, Katmai).
Where to see grizzly bears: consider a small group wildlife tour taking in two of Alaska’s prime grizzly bear locations in the safe hands of an expert guide – with a 100% success rate of finding bears.
Alaska is home to the largest population of grey wolves in the US – but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to spot. The majestic creatures like to keep out of human sight and, contrary to their mythological image, they rarely attack people.
Spot wolves in winter or summer throughout mainland Alaska and on the major islands. Your best bet is to head to a national park like Denali, where the shy creatures are more likely to come out of hiding.
Where to see wolves: take a self-drive itinerary, Alaska’s Natural Wonders, takes you through Alaska’s stunning landscapes and allows for a 2-night stay in Denali National Park, prime wolf-spotting territory.
You’ll find more Steller sea lions in Alaska than anywhere else in the world. Not to be confused with their smaller California cousins, the magnificent mammals can be seen all over Alaska’s south coast.
During summer, huge groups of sea lions gather on rookeries, basking in the sun and diving into the cold Pacific waters to catch food.
Where to see sea lions: take a ride down Alaska’s dramatic icy Inside Passage on our Glacier Bay Cruise and keep your eyes peeled for sea lions from the deck.
The memes are true: sea otters really do hold hands while sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other. See the cutest of all the marine mammals for yourself in Alaska, home to 90% of the world’s sea otters. You’ll find them all year round in Alaska’s south-western coastal areas, especially in the Aleutian Islands and the Kenai Peninsula.
Where to see sea otters: our classic self-drive itinerary, Introduction to Alaska, focuses on south Alaska and takes in the marine wonders of the Kenai Peninsula.
Book your own wildlife holiday to Alaska
For even more inspiration, take a look at all our Alaska wildlife holidays. To get your trip planning underway, you can drop our Travel Specialists a line or give them a call on 01737 886 214.