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IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

A permit is required to visit Pack Creek between June 1 and September 10 and allows you to visit from 9 am until 9 pm. Between July 5 and August 25, only 24 visitors are allowed per day (12 guided and 12 unguided).

PACK CREEK BEAR VIEWING AREA, AK

part ofTongass National Forest, US Forest Service
Photo: Pack Creek Bears

Overview

In the midst of the Alaskan brown bear.
Enter the world of the great brown bear at the Pack Creek Wildlife Viewing Area, just a short 30 minute float plane ride from Juneau, Alaska. Enter the bear’s world and view these magnificent creatures in their natural setting fishing for salmon, playing with siblings, sleeping and roaming.

At the center of southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest is Admiralty Island. At over a million acres, its gentle mountain slopes and steady precipitation create a lush temperate rain forest and ubiquitous salmon spawning habitat which makes it an ideal home for the Alaskan brown bear. The island boasts one of the healthiest bear populations in the world with approximately one bear per square mile, and is home to 1,500 bears.

Natural features
The native Tlingit people called this area "Kootznoowoo" meaning “fortress of the bears” from which Admiralty Island gets its name. At the island’s center is the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area. Established in 1935, it has been actively managed since 1985 by the Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. After many generations, the bears have become accustomed to the presence of people and spend their time fattening up on salmon and rearing their young.

Recreation
Upon arrival, you will disembark the plane or boat into 8-12 inches of water on the beach. A ranger will greet you and provide an orientation including rules and important information to be followed while visiting Pack Creek. You can then walk the beach to the viewing spit or hike about one mile to the observation tower and spend the day enjoying the wilderness. You’ll need to leave the viewing area by 9 pm.

No humans or bears have ever been harmed at Pack Creek. In order to maintain this record, all visitors must strictly follow the rules. This will ensure a safe and stress free environment for the bears that make Pack Creek their home. It is important to remember these bears are wild animals with potential for aggressive behavior.

Facilities
The Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area is within a Wilderness Area. This means there are no facilities on site: no bathrooms, no shelter from the elements, and no cell phone service.

Bear-proof lockers are available for storing all food and gear. Food is allowed at Pack Creek, but it is restricted to the entrance site.

Camping is one of best ways to make the most of your trip. Although camping is not allowed in the immediate Pack Creek area, camping is permitted on nearby Windfall Island as well as on Swan Island and in Windfall Harbor.

No permit is required for overnight camping outside the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area, but watercraft transportation is required to leave Pack Creek at the end of the day and travel to your camp. Kayaks are available on Windfall Island from Pack Creek Outfitters but must be rented prior to your trip. Their contact information is listed under guides. Remember: hang your food high and use a bear-resistant container.

Pack Creek Maps

Know Before You Go

Shoulder SeasonPeak Season
June 1 through July 4
and
Aug. 26 through Sept. 10
July 5 through Aug. 25
Shoulder Season FeePeak Season Fee
Adult (16 to 61): $20Adult (16 to 61): $50
Junior (under 16): $10Junior (under 16): $25
Senior (over 61): $10Senior (over 61):$25

Fees, Change and Cancellation Policies for Pack Creek.

What to expect
Bring a lunch if you plan to stay all day. When you’re not eating, you will need to store your food in the bear-proof lockers provided.

Access to and traveling within the bear viewing area requires getting your feet wet. There is no dock and rubber boots are highly recommended.

Bring rain gear and extra layers, even if the weather seems to be nice. The weather can turn cold and rainy at any time of the year in southeast Alaska. Average maximum temperature in July in Juneau is 64° F.

Not often, but occasionally, flights to Pack Creek are cancelled due to high winds and poor visibility. Have a contingency plan and be prepared by bringing extra clothing, snacks, and any vital medications.

Much of the viewing area of Pack Creek is within a tidal estuary. For a couple of hours on a few days each summer, high tides above 17 feet can negatively impact bear viewing and the ability of visitors to travel within the area. Be sure and check the tide book to ensure your trip will not be affected by high tides.

The bears of Pack Creek are wild animals and do not follow a predictable schedule. It is recommended that visitors allow themselves as much time as possible. The longer your stay, the more likely you are to see bears, the better photos you'll get, and the more rewarding your experience will be.

You may reserve one permit for up to three days in a row; however a multi-day permit cannot carry over into the following season. For example: You must reserve two permits if you are viewing on the last day of the peak season (Aug 25th) and on the first day of the shoulder season (Aug 26th).

2014 High Tides
Please be aware that high tides of 17 feet or more may affect your ability to travel within the Pack Creek area and how viewable bears are. This is a temporary condition that is limited to an hour around high tide.

DateDayTime
(in AKST)
Height (ft.)
July 12Saturday2:15 pm16.5
July 13Sunday3:00 pm17.3
July 14Monday3:43 pm17.7
July 15Tuesday4:27 pm17.8
July 16Wednesday5:13 pm17.5
July 17Thursday6:01 pm16.9
August 10Sunday1:53 pm17.4
August 11Monday2:35 pm18.3
August 12Tuesday3:17 pm18.8
August 13Wednesday3:58 pm18.8
August 14Thursday4:40 pm18.3
August 15Friday5:25 pm17.4
September 07Sunday12:44 pm17.0
September 08Monday1:26 pm18.3
September 09Tuesday2:07 pm19.2
September 10Wednesday2:47 pm19.6

Children
Children are welcome and encouraged to participate in the Pack Creek experience, but please keep in mind that bears are very sensitive to movement and noise. Visitation to the viewing area requires groups to sit quietly, possibly for several hours. Please consider the appropriateness of this activity for young children. Quiet activities like coloring books are recommended. Children old enough to walk will need a permit; babies not yet walking do not.
Guides
Of the 24 visitor permits allowed per day during the peak season, only half are available through this website. The other half are for commercial guide companies for those visitors that prefer the added services of a guide.

Information on Pack Creek Guides: Click Here

Getting There
Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area, Tongass National Forest, Hoonah-Angoon, AK, USA

Latitude: 57.8994277°
Longitude:-134.2920063°

There is no road to Pack Creek; access is by floatplane, motorboat, sailboat, kayak, or canoe ONLY. Most visitors arrive by floatplane from Juneau; the trip usually takes about 30 minutes each way.

Contact Information

Admiralty National Monument
8510 Mendenhall Loop Road
Juneau, AK 99801
907-586-8800

Phone Park for More Information:

Project Office: (907) 586-8800
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