Beginner's guide to Alaska

You don’t have to see the same places everyone else does. Here’s our guide to the coolest glaciers, biggest bears, and best small town

Watch big, big bears
Photo by Michael Hanson

Watch big, big bears

In parts of Alaska, bears outnumber people by a large margin. But where to see them easily and safely? Pack Creek on Admiralty Island is famous. But we like Anan Wildlife Observatory, near Wrangell, even more. Anan Creek gets so jammed with salmon it looks like you could walk across fish and never touch water. The area draws as many as a hundred bears each July and August—and is one of only a couple of places in the state where black and brown bears fish the same stream at the same time. The U.S. Forest Service maintains a viewing platform over a small waterfall, and when the bears feed there, you can be close enough to see a bear’s nose twitch when he digs into a salmon.

Info: See Anan Jul 5–Aug 25 with Alaska Vistas ($252; or Breakaway Adventures ($220;

While you’re there: For humpback whale–watching, take a boat to Point Adolphus, south of Glacier Bay. A good longtime outfitter is Gustavus-based Annie Mae Lodge (tours from $120; May 25–Sep 5;


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