|Highland Scenic Highway|
The area surrounding the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is a showcase for glacial activity and wildlife and vegetation viewing. The well-developed site features an accessible visitor's center, a network of trails, restroom facilities, and other accommodations.
Mendenhall Valley is a showcase...
Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area
|Description: Located in the Tongass National Forest, the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area is cooperatively managed by the US Forest Service and the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game and each agency provides half the staffing. Camping is not allowed at Pack Creek but is on nearby islands. A personal watercraft is needed to move between the viewing area and the closest campsites. Sea kayaks are available for rent but arrangements must be made in town prior to travel to the area.
Whether by boat or by plane visitors are required to arrive at the South Spit. A Ranger will greet them, collect their permit and then provide a short orientation to the area, explaining area rules and bear safety. Visitors can then proceed un-escorted to either of the two viewing areas. The Viewing Spit is only a 1/4 mile walk along the beach and is just a raised gravel bar that over looks the mouth of the stream, only a log to sit on is provided for visitor comfort. The Viewing Tower is accessed by hiking the 1 mile trail through the rain forest and then climbing the 16 foot ladder to the covered platform which only has a capacity for 8 visitors.
Permits are required between June 1 and September 10, and can be purchased in person at the Juneau Ranger District office, or can be downloaded and submitted online. Visit the Pack Creek website for current costs and procedures.
Wildlife to Watch: Pack Creek is located within the Kootznoowoo Wilderness on Admiralty Island. The Tlingit referred to the island as "Kootznoowoo" meaning "Fortress of the Bears". The island is located in the temperate coastal rain forest and is perfectly suited for the Alaskan Brown Bear. The island currently boasts a population of approximately 1500 bears, more than the lower 48 states combined. The multitude of clear, cold, mountain streams support the perrenial life cycle of spawning salmon tying the rich marine environment intricately with the land and ending at the top of the food chain with the Alaskan Brown Bear. Many other animals and birds use the area including the bald eagle which is found in greater numbers in this area than anywhere else in the world.
Special Tips: Pack Creek has been a bear viewing area since the 1930's and a bear attack has never occurred here. As many as 1400 visitors a season come to Pack Creek and each one is provided an explanation of area rules and bear behavior. Visitors are told they are only visitors and the area is managed so the resident bears can live their lives as if we weren't present. Bears eventually become "habituated" to our presence, no longer feeling threatened by us they behave less aggressively and are safer to be around. However Pack Creek is not a zoo and bears are free to roam anywhere human visitors might be. Food is not allowed at the viewing sites and must be stored in a cache until ready to consume at the South Spit. This is a Wilderness area and there are no facilities or accommodations, visitors should be adequately prepared with boots, rain gear bug spray etc.
Ownership: USDA Forest Service
Closest Town: Juneau, AK
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: