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Alaska : Things to do : Nature, Wildlife Viewing

The state has 47 State and National Parks that offer great viewing opportunities for beautiful scenery and wildlife. Denali National Park in interior Alaska, affords great viewing of almost all Alaska wildlife. Alaska has the largest population of Bald Eagles, Brown Bears, and Black Bears in the world.

Alaska is home to over 98 percent of USA's brown bear population. Grizzlies and brown bears are part of the same Alaska bear family. The term brown bear is usually given to bears that reside in Alaskan coastal areas, while grizzlies usually reside inland. Bear viewing is an awesome experience with McNeil River, Katmai National Park, Kodiak Island and Lake Clark National Park being popular locations. During summer months brown bears gather near streams to feed on Alaska salmon and is the best time for viewing these magnificient beasts.

The Bald Eagle and its smaller cousin the Golden Eagle are some of Alaska's most magnificent birds of prey. The Bald Eagle lives near Alaska's waterways and feeds mostly on salmon. They weigh almost 15 pounds and reach a wing span of up to 7 feet. The Golden Eagle lives mostly in interior Alaska and feeds on small ground animals. They weigh 8-12 pounds and have a wing span of 6-7 feet. Alaska's population of eagles is the largest in the nation at more than 30,000 birds.

Over 1 million Caribou inhabit Alaska, making approximately 32 herds. They are the only member of the deer family in which both sexes grow antlers. Caribou are known to travel as far as 3,000 miles in a year back and forth to various eating grounds. This is further than any other land mammal.

Along with the brown bear, moose is instantly identified with Alaskan wildlife. Moose are the largest members of the deer family with the males weighing in at 1200-1600 pounds and the females at 800-1300 pounds.

Known for their haunting howls, Wolves cover more than 85% of Alaska. They can adapt to many different habitats from rain forest to barren tundra. There are several pairs that live within Denali Park and can occasionally be seen by guests of the park.

Dahl Sheep are mostly found in high country and they inhabit many mountain ranges throughout Alaska. Rams are distinguished by their large curling horns. The Seward Highway, just south of Anchorage, offers many lookout points designed for viewing of these animals.

Humpback Whales are generally not found in cooler waters but due to the abundance in food can be seen in Alaska's southeast and south-central waters throughtout the year.

Sea otters and sea lions are also found in abundance in Alaska.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center offers conservation education programs year-round. It is the only visitor center in USA within a half mile of a terminal glacier that calves icebergs into a lake. The exhibits at the Center depict the variety of wildlife in the area including mountain goats, wolves, black bears and red salmon. Forest interpreters provide tours, children's nature programs, point out wildlife and answer questions about the area.

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