Anan Creek Bear Observatory — Part 1

One of the unique tours available in Ketchikan is a flight over the Misty Fjords National Monument. In researching that trip, I followed a recommendation in the Frommer's guidebook to look up Island Wings Air Service, owned and operated by pilot Michelle Masden. She does fly visitors over the fjords, but what I found irresistable was her trip to see wild bears fishing for salmon at the Anan Creek Bear Observatory.

Located about 40 minutes North of Ketchikan by air, Anan Creek is one of many prolific salmon runs in Southeast Alaska. Accessible by seaplane or, from Wrangell, by boat, admittance during the Summer months is controlled by permit. The United States Forest Service has more information in the recreational activities and NatureWatch sections of its web site.

At the floatplane dock, Michelle shepherded five of us visitors and our guide into the DeHavilland Beaver. Headsets with voice activated microphones helped suppress engine noise while allowing us to ask questions. Ketchikan in general, and the Tongass forest in particular, are very rainy; July 24th was no exception. Still, the views through the mist were quite inspiring.

Inside the BeaverInside the Beaver Tongass ForestTongass Forest Tongass ForestTongass Forest Tongass ForestTongass Forest Tongass ForestTongass Forest Tongass ForestTongass Forest Tongass ForestTongass Forest Our floatplaneOur floatplane Our pilot MichelleOur pilot Michelle

We touched down in Anan Bay and floated to shore where a park ranger met us and took all food and food-flavored items from us (these were stored in a small bear-proof box for later retrieval). We moved fairly quickly up the trail, so here are just a few quick glimpses of the terrain.

Eagle in tree, from the beachEagle in tree, from the beach Eagles in tree, from the beachEagle in tree, from the beach Tree near the potty, off the beachTree near the potty, off the beach Stairs toward cabin, wrong directionStairs toward cabin, wrong direction Salmon planning their runs upstreamSalmon planning their runs upstream Anan CreekAnan Creek Anan CreekAnan Creek

When we reached the observatory, a park interpreter greeted us, and the bears were already in position to have their pictures taken.

Continue to BearsReturn to Alaska Cruise 2007

Copyright © 2008 Jefferson Scher.