Bear Viewing

Because of the salmon population at Big River Lakes, there are many bears that feed in the local area. We are working hard to protect our resident bears and co-exist with them. A trained naturalist guide will take you for an up close and safe view of our nearest neighbors.
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The two kinds of bears we see in Southcentral Alaska are Brown Bears and Black Bears. Your chances are good to see either type of bear but Redoubt Bay Lodge is most noted for our resident Brown Bear population. At Redoubt Bay Lodge, most of the Black Bears will leave early in the season when the Brown Bears move into the vicinity. 

Viewing Ethics

  • Give wildlife plenty of space. Binoculars and spotting scopes allow you to view wildlife without getting too close. Approach wildlife slowly, quietly, and indirectly. Always give animals an avenue for retreat.
  • Try to view animals without changing their behavior. Avoid using calls or devices that attract wildlife. Resist the temptation to throw rocks to see a bear react. Remember harassing wildlife is illegal.
  • The expression “Don’t Feed the Bears” certainly sounds trite but it is important not to offer our bears any foods. The bears at Redoubt Bay Lodge can be hunted in fall legally and, for their own safety, we don’t want to encourage them to be too comfortable around humans.
  • Trust and listen to your guide. He or she has been trained to live near and around bears. If your guide recommends moving back, or being quiet please listen to them.

About Our Bears

  • The Redoubt Bay Critical Habitat hosts one of the densest brown bear populations in the state.
  • Our bears are best seen early morning and late at night.
  • Use binoculars or a spotting scope. These tools will open a new world of wildlife viewing. For instance, with a 20-power spotting scope mounted on a tripod, it is possible to watch the activity of a bear standing 1.5 miles away. If you don’t have your own binoculars, ask your guide to borrow a lodge set.
  • Utilize our field guides. Many good field guides are available at the lodge to help identify mammals, birds, fish, and other fauna and flora. We’ve also created our own. Knowing what you’re looking at greatly enhances your viewing pleasure.

Brown Bears (Ursus arctos)

Found along coastal areas such as Redoubt Bay Lodge, where salmon is the primary source of food, are typically designated as “Brown Bears.” The same species of bears found inland have a poorer diet and are often called “grizzlies.” The brown bear differs from a black bear by usually having a more prominent shoulder hump, less prominent ears, and longer, straighter claws. These bears are also typically larger than black bears. Color is not a reliable key in differentiating these bears because both species have many color phases. Brown bears have been known to live into their 20’s and 30’s. Brown bears have an especially good sense of smell and under the right conditions may be able to detect odors more than a mile away. Contrary to popular belief, their hearing is excellent and eyesight is comparable to our own. Biologists estimate 750 brown bears live in the Redoubt Bay Lodge vicinity.

Black Bears (Ursus americanus)

Black Bears are the most abundant and widely distributed of North American bears. Black bears are the smallest of the North American bears. An average adult male in spring weighs about 180-200 pounds (81.8 to 90.9 kg). Black bears are most easily distinguished from brown bears by their straight facial profile and their claws which are sharply curved. They don’t exhibit the shoulder hump of Brown bears.


All bears should be treated with respect and can be safely observed only from a distance of at least 100 yards. This is especially true for family groups of a female and her offspring as mother bears are very protective towards their young. Bears protecting a food source, such as the buried carcass of a moose or caribou, should also be treated with special caution. Our guides at Redoubt Bay Lodge provide a safe and comfortable environment for viewing.

In Alaska, wildlife is all around us but not always so easy to watch. At Redoubt Bay Lodge, we offer guests the opportunity to see bears in a safe and comfortable environment.

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