Anan is a world-class bear viewing area and one of the few places in the world where both black and brown bear feed at the same creek at the same time. Anan Creek is home to one of the largest runs of pink salmon in southeast Alaska, some 200,000 – 300,000 salmon return each year and help support the high density of black and brown bears that gather there.
The abundant seasonal food source that the salmon run provides attracts a variety of wildlife to the creek. Harbor seals, bald eagles, and mink are common at Anan. Steller sea lions, orcas, wolves, humpback whales, and wolverines have also been spotted at and near Anan.
Anan is a primitive recreational experience where natural forces dominate. The three main goals of Anan management are having as little effect on the bear populations as possible; bear and public safety; and maintaining and providing an extraordinary experience for visitors.
Anan Creek is an area of rich history. The Stikine Tlingit clans had summer fish camps here and used Anan Creek’s large salmon spawning run to catch and preserve salmon for their winter food supply. Anan was unique because the large amount of salmon available made it possible to have several clans sharing one fish camp.
The abundance of salmon also drew non-native people to Anan Creek. In 1901, Pilot Fish Packing Company set up a large fish trap at the mouth of Anan that allowed few fish to make it up the creek. This lack of escapement was very destructive to the Anan salmon population. Commercial fish traps were outlawed shortly after Alaska became a state in 1959.
Location and Environment:
The Anan Wildlife Observatory is located on the mainland within Alaska's Tongass National Forest roughly 35 miles south of the town of Wrangell. It is a rural and isolated area only accessible by boat or float plane.
If you do not have your own means of transportation to Anan, view a list of permitted commercial operators that provide outfitter and guide services for Anan. The guides provide permits with their trips, so you will not need to purchase a permit from recreation.gov.
The Tongass National Forest is a temperate rain forest where precipitation and ocean influences dominate weather patterns. The temperature is mild to cool and wet year-round.
Permits are only required from July 5 - August 25.
Attention: There has been a policy change for obtaining Anan Observatory Permits! There are only 12 private permits available on recreation.gov for the 2021 season July 5—Aug 25, and these may only be used by individuals who have their own means to arrive at Anan Wildlife Observatory. If you intend to utilize the services of a commercial guide to bring you to Anan and escort you at Anan, then purchase your Anan permit directly from an authorized guide company. The Anan Calendar Website shows the calendar of available permits by authorized company and their contact information. This is a significant change in operations, so if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Wrangell Ranger District at (907) 874-2323.
Day use permits are required for Anan during the annual peak season of July 5-August 25. During the peak season, visiting hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Starting in 2021, these permits are only for people who will not use any type of commercial service at Anan (those arriving with their own means of transportation and visiting without any hired escort). Individuals can no longer purchase permits on recreation.gov and then find a guide company to bring them to Anan. If you need transportation to Anan, contact an authorized guide service directly for permits and passage to Anan. To help plan your trip, the Anan calendar webpage shows the calendar for Anan operation from July 5-August 25. It displays each authorized guide company and their available permits for each day.
Individuals are only allowed to be able to hold up to three active passes at a time.
You may book reservations for the peak season beginning on February 1st up until the day-of your visit before 6 p.m. Alaska Time.
The bear observatory is accessed by a half-mile, two-foot wide elevated boardwalk trail. The total trip to the observatory and back is one mile.
There are sections of the trail that have loose gravel, mud, and uneven ground. There are over 300 stairs from the Anan trailhead to the observatory deck. In addition, the photo blind, which is located at the bear observatory, is accessed through a stairway that is equivalent to three stories high.
Anan is remote and isolated. It can only be accessed by float plane or boat.
Whether you arrive by boat or float plane, you will disembark in a tidal area. There are large, slippery rocks to traverse before you reach the trailhead.
What to Expect:
During the peak viewing season of July and August, Forest Service interpreters are onsite to provide current information on bear safety, trail conditions, bear activity, and to interpret the natural surroundings and the wildlife of Anan. You will need to present your day use permit to the Forest Service personnel upon arrival.
Visiting hours from July 5-August 25 are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The wet environment of southeast Alaska creates very slippery and muddy trail conditions. The trail and conditions can be arduous and it can be common to encounter bears along the trail.
If visiting Anan by private boat the anchoring can be tricky as Anan features a large tidal flat, a step drop off, and sandy ocean floor bottom.
What to Bring:
Rain gear, extra layers, and water proof foot wear. Even on sunny days, the weather can quickly change to cold and rain.
Plenty of water to last throughout the day.
Lunch and any additional food items. Food will need to be stored in the bear proof locker at the trailhead while visiting the observatory deck.
Bear spray if not accompanied by a guide.
The Anan area has a trail system, recreational cabin, trailhead with trailhead shelter, several outhouses, and an observatory deck overlooking the falls where the bears congregate.
The Anan Wildlife Observatory deck consists of a covered viewing shelter, decks, photo blind, and a detached outhouse.
Rules and Regulations:
From July 5 through August 25, a day permit is required for all visitors to the observatory.
Per Order of Forest Supervisor, Order No. 96-01 the following activities are prohibited within the Anan Wildlife Viewing Area. Restrictions apply to all visitors between June 15 and September 15, annually.
a. Possessing, preparing or storing any food or food refuse within the area, with the exception of placing such in the designated food cache located at the Anan Creek Trailhead, or in conjunction with authorized use of Anan Creek Trailhead, or in conjunction with authorized use of the Anan Public Recreation Cabin [36 CFR 261.58 (cc)].
b. Camping [36 CFR 261.58 9e)]. Camping is prohibited within one-half mile of Anan Creek (north shore boundary is power line right-of-way, southern shore boundary is cliffs south of the sandy beach).
c. Possessing, storing or transporting any dog, including any of the various animals of the Canidae family [36 CFR 261.58 (s)]. Dogs are prohibited within one-half mile of Anan Creek (north shore boundary is power line right-of-way; southern shore boundary is cliffs south of the sandy beach).
d. Public use on all National Forest System lands within 1/2 mile of the Anan Creek Trail (Trail #448) beginning at the Anan Bay Public Recreation Cabin and ending at the Upper Falls Observatory, the exception of:
1) the Anan Bay Public Recreation site,
2) the Anan Creek Trailhead,
3) the Anan Creek Trail, and
4) the Lower Observatory Deck (including viewing blind and outhouse).
There is a $6 non-refundable reservation fee.
Daily non-refundable pass fee is $10.
If you're unable to make it on the day you've reserved passes there is no change, exchange, or no show policy and you will be charged the pass fee in full.
All fees are non-refundable.
Wrangell AK 99929