Spotlight: Up Steep Creek—Return of the Sockeye
View the spawning grounds on the live web cam or visit the Tongass National Forest
What You’ll Find
A live look at sockeye salmon as they make their way up the waters of Steep Creek in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Forest Service fisheries biologists have placed a video camera in Steep Creek allowing virtual visitors from near and far to witness the spawning sockeye salmon as they return to the place of their birth. Along with the salmon, droves of black bears come to feed on the nutritious fish, readying for winter.
Located in southeastern Alaska, Steep Creek drops more than 2,000 feet from the top of Thunder Mountain to the Mendenhall Valley floor, where it flows for a short distance before entering Mendenhall Lake. Every year spawning sockeye and coho salmon find their way from the ocean into Steep Creek via Mendenhall River and Mendenhall Lake. The brilliant hued sockeye typically spawn in July and August while coho salmon and Dolly Varden char arrive in September and October.
For those seeking an adventure up north to see the dramatic return of the salmon and the subsequent arrival of the black bears, visit the Steep Creek Fish Viewing area near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.
With incredible views of the Mendenhall Glacier and the surrounding peaks, Mendenhall Campground offers advance reservations for campsites suitable for tents, RVs, and even backpackers.
Make Sure You
Visit the underwater live video cam often. With upwards of 4,000 fish in any given year, keep your eyes peeled for a bear paw or two!
Opportunities abound throughout Alaska and the continental U.S. to view bears in their natural environment. If you’re planning a trip to Alaska and the Tongass National Forest, please be bear aware – fish attract bears.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game website offers a description and illustration of the salmon life cycle. Discover the dramatic story of this annual migration as the fish return to where they hatched, select a mate, spawn and die. Yet, the cycle continues as their decomposing bodies provide nutrients for streambank vegetation and insects that in turn will become a food source for the young salmon.
A stop at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is a must. Hosting more than 400,000 visitors a year, the center offers interpretive programs, an exhibit gallery and the award-winning movie, Landscape of Change, the Tongass National Forest.
Watch the web cam, experience the fish, and be surprised when a bear walks by! This cam alone will have you adding Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to your bucket list of incredible outdoor adventures!