Most visitors who take a bear viewing excursion with one of Kodiak’s local guides return saying it was one of the most amazing experiences of their lifetimes….even “life-changing.” It is a powerful emotional experience to be in the company of the largest bear in the world and there is only one place you can do it: Kodiak Island.
Bear-viewing is, indeed, one of the most popular activities on Kodiak Island. The best time to see a Kodiak bear is during July, August and September and the best way to do so is in the company of a knowledgeable guide. Most local air taxis offer half-day viewing trips. Multi-day bear viewing adventures can be booked with remote lodges. Some boat charters and kayak outfitters specialize in bear and wildlife viewing. Special use cabins can be reserved through the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge office and through the Alaska State Parks office in Kodiak. In 2012, the Kodiak Brown Bear Center opened on Karluk Lake, in the heart of the 1.9 million acres of the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge.
Bears are sometimes seen on the road system. Should you be fortunate enough to see a bear on one of Kodiak’s roadways, only stop in designated pullouts or parking lots. Stopping on the roadway is illegal and you will be ticketed for doing so. Do not approach bears. Use a long-lens to take photographs and travel with binoculars to see bears that may be in the distance. Even in designated pull-outs, keep alert for high-speed traffic coming from both directions on the highway.
If seeing a Kodiak brown bear is an important component of your Alaska experience, plan ahead, select an outfitter, and book your bear-viewing experience several months in advance.
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