Anan Wildlife Observatory Permits

Tongass National Forest

Anan is a world-class wildlife 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. 

History: 

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.

Notifications and Alerts

Permit & Season Information

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. 

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.

Need to Know

The wildlife observatory is accessed by a half-mile, 30" wide gravel trail with some steps and bridges. The total trip to the viewing platform and back requires a one mile walk. There have been recent improvements to the trail, but it is not wheelchair accessible. In addition, the photo blind located at the wildlife 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 concrete and wood steps that lead to the trailhead, but they can get slippery.  

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. It is common to encounter bears along the trail during the peak season. 

If visiting Anan by private boat, the anchoring can be tricky as Anan Bay features a large tidal flat, a steep drop off, and sandy ocean floor bottom. A 40' mooring float is located in the bay and open to use by the general public and guide services on a first-come, first-serve basis. Vessel limit on the float is a maximum of 36 feet long, with a 30" draft. 

What to Bring: 

Facilities: 

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).  

Fee Policy

Reservation Fee:
There is a $6 non-refundable reservation fee. 

Recreation 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.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy:

All fees are non-refundable.

Contact Information

Mailing Address

Wrangell AK 99929

Phone Number

907-874-2323

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