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Is bear viewing accessible by car?

Boston...
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Is bear viewing accessible by car?

We are touring Alaska next summer and some of our group are flying out of Homer to view bears. For various reasons, a few of the group cannot do the flight and hiking. Are there any platforms or areas for viewing bears near Homer or Anchorage thst can be reached by car or boat? If not, can you recommend other wildlife viewing activities that are accessible from Homer.

Thanks

New York City
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1. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

Hi thcr, We spent three days in Homer as part of our 17 day drive in Alaska. We stayed at the end of the spit and each day saw many eagles, otters, and some whales in the Bay. In driving around Homer, we saw many moose, both in the outskirts of town and in the countryside. Just being in Homer will provide wildlife viewing opportunities.

I don't think you will see any bear unless you go on a specific bear viewing tour, unless thy pop up while driving. I have included some links on wildlife and Homer. The seafood in Homer was some of the best I ever had.

http://www.akms.com/wild.html

homeralaska.org/visitHomer/recreationAdventu…

fti
MN
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2. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

Depending on when you are going, I heard the Russian River often has bears. I am not familiar with it but if you do a search for Russian River it will probably show up.

There are some wildlife boat tours from Homer. Gull Island Rookery is one that comes to mind. Mostly birds but sometimes they see otters, sea lions and whales.

Are you going to Denali? That will be an excellent chance to see bears, especially if you take a shuttle bus to Eielson Visitor Center or further.

John

Seward,Alaska
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3. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

The Alaska wildlife conservation center has a good display of orphaned/rescued bears, moose, bison ect that can be easily viewed from the vehicle. It's an hour south of Anc heading to Homer. www.farthernorth.com/biggamealaska/index.htm

Look for Dall sheep near Windy Point, about 35 mins south of Anc.

I've seen bears at the Russian river but that requires quite a bit of hiking with a very steep set of stairs, but I have also seen them near the road while driving through. The biggest clue for spotting is other cars parked along side of the road. Usually a trooper will chase everyone away in a short amount of time as it is a big traffic hazard on that narrow road.

Kenai Fjords National Park wildlife cruises out of Seward are a great way for seeing tidewater glaciers, whales, porpoise, sea lions, bird rookeries, and ocansionally bears and goats.

Adirondack, New York
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4. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

There are a few platforms for viewing birds and other wildlife around Homer. 14 years of traveling to Alaska and at least 10 visits to Homer never saw a bear from any of them. As you already know to have the best and guaranteed bear viewing is to go to Katmai National Park.

We went with emerald air several times and in the end of July, beginning of August there is not much walking involved. We get off the floatplane and often bears are right there. Almost waiting for us. We walk a short distance from the lake and watch bears. Then a group splits and those who want to stay and continue watching bears in that one spot stay with one guide. The other group goes farther and look for other bears. There is always competition between those who stayed put and those who hiked farther away. So far after so many trips there are no losers or winners. Emerald Air has the best reputation and the guide and the guide/pilot are owners too. Bald Mountain also gets great reviews on this board. Maybe some of your group shouldn’t give up so easily on this fantastic opportunity to watch brown bears and not going to Katmai NP. One time we had an older man (maybe 78 -80?) who walked very slowly with a cane. Another time there was a young woman with braces on her knees. Both times all participants in small groups (Emerald takes only 9 guests) and guides were very considerate. You need to remember that walking faster or farther doesn’t mean you see more bears. Why won't you call and talk directly to a guide about fears or limitations.

If you are going, or not, on a bear watching trip I suggest you read reviews on TA. One review is a fascinating account of one poster (AKArmyWife) who went on a few bear watching trips and it wasn't me. I'm going on two trips in 2009 with Emerald Air. The other reviewer (luckygreen) went just once but had a great viewing experience. There are other reviews, much shorter but still should be very helpful to those who are not certain about this costly trip.

http://tinyurl.com/5l6gwf

Wylie.Texas
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5. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

Hi

You might try a float trip out off Coopers Landing.We did a 2 hr trip and saw 2 blacks and many eagles.Its a nice easy trip for all ages.You will pass right thru on your way to Homer.

David

Alaska
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6. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

OK, now for the 'off the tourist beat' answer. Ask the locals if there are any bears hanging around the dumps or the dumpsters or the fishing holes. Ask everywhere you go. The bears are a bit unpredictable and go where ever they wish. The use of dumps and dumpsters and putting out garbage cans the morning of pickup and not the night before has been greatly tightened, but people do make mistakes, bears do smell ripe food, and scavenging does happen, so it is well worth asking!

Checking out the Russian River is an excellent idea, as the bears do own the territory and mostly tolerate huan interlopers. Bear are notoriously bad at punching clocks, so their visits are quite irregular - but if they are in the neighborhood the local people should know.

While you are asking, check with the local boaters and boat outfitters, as they may know where the bears have been hanging out the last few days and may be quite willing to take you out for a safe visit.

71

Anchorage, AK
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7. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

I regularly float the Upper Kenai River from Cooper Landing. Cooper Landing is about 3 hour drive north of Homer on the way to Anchorage. We see as many as 10 bears (brown and black) on a typical float trip. By the way we call it floating, you all call it rafting. There are several companies that do float trips from Cooper Landing. The water is pretty flat with a little whoopy water, but not much. You shouldn't get wet.

The best time of the year to view the bears on the Kenai River is middle of July through late August. You want to go when there are fish. Also the fish draw the eagles. If you see eagles in the area, there are definitely salmon.

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8. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

I like the idea of floating on the Kenai River in the hopes of seeing bears but I will be in that area in late June. What are the chances of seeing bear on the river at that time of year? I was also wondering if hiking to the Russian River Falls might give you an even better chance of seeing bear as many people walk there to observe the salmon runs.

Seward,Alaska
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9. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

I've seen blacks and browns during June on the Kenai/Russian river. That's the red salmon run time.

Anchorage, Alaska
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10. Re: Is bear viewing accessible by car?

There are several Brown Bears and a few Black Bears that roam the Russian River area and you can see them most any day from the end of June through July. A few of the young Brown Bears can be a bit aggressive (for obvious reasons) so ensure that you keep your distance.

The simple approach is to park at the Red Salmon lot in the Russian River Campground and walk down to the confluence of the Russian and Kenai River's. It is about a twenty-thirty minute walk one way and you will normally see two or three bears. Please do not think that because a bear is leisurely strolling down the boardwalk that it is going to move out of your way, back off and view from a safe distance.

When you are in Bear country it is a good idea to stay in groups of three or four people, also talking loudly will ensure that the bear you don't see, knows that your in the area. Generally there are hundreds of people on the Russian River during the peak of the Salmon runs but invariably someone does something stupid to provoke the furry little ball. One evening I watched a lady with two kids who were sitting on the river bank splashing their feet in the water while their mother was taking pictures of a Sow Brown Bear and two cubs directly across the river. Not smart, that eight foot tall Sow could be across the river in about three or four seconds and the result would not have been pretty. A telephoto lens and space between you and the bears are the only safe option.

If you are carrying a pack, don't set it down on the ground. You will be cited by Fish and Wildlife Officers and a bear will probably steal it while you are enjoying the scenery!

I spend fifteen to twenty days a year fishing on the Russian and I have never been there and not had the pleasure of seeing one of natures finest creatures. Shoot me an email at jaegerak@gci.net and I can send you a few shots of Russian RIver Bears.

Please be safe and enjoy your trip to our incredible state.