Admiralty Island is a large island in the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska and is the domain of bears! Most of the island is protected in the Admiralty Island National Monument. The closest city is Juneau which - along with Admiralty Island - is the perfect destination for a true Alaskan experience.
Juneau itself a stunning city filled with outdoor wonders like glaciers and whales. Admiralty Island is generally an excursion for people visiting Juneau. If one would like to see the brown bears in the Lower 48, then the best place is Yellowstone, but be sure to plan one's trip around the mating and migration patterns of the animals there.
What To Know about Admiralty Island
Admiralty Island is covered with old-growth forest, but fortunately, most visitors enjoy it without exclaiming (in the words of Dorothy from Wizard of Oz) "I don't like this forest. It's dark and creepy!... Do you suppose we'll meet any wild animals?" "Well, some, but mostly lions and tigers and bears."
While no one is going to be seeing any lions or tigers on this isle, the bears are hard to miss. The forest provides some of the best habitats for some of America's most iconic animals like the bald eagles, brown bears, as well as the Sitka black-tailed deer.
- Size: Admiralty Island is the Seventh Largest Island In The United States
It's not just on land, the seas are also abundant in marine life and one can see many whales, seals, and dolphins as well as vast amounts of salmon. One can also see other evidence of where people once came to exploit the island's riches.
If one explores the aptly named Murder Cove on the island, one will find the remains of the Tyee Company whaling station.
- Settlement: the Only Settlement On the Island Is Angoon - a Traditional Tlingit Community
- City Of Juneau: For Some Reason, 6.2% of the Island is Part of the City Of Juneau - Even Though It is Far Outside The Urban Development
- Sacred: The Island is Considered Sacred Space To The Angoon Tribel of Tlingit People
One of the most popular attractions on the island is the 32-mile long Cross Admiralty Canoe Route. It is popular for canoers and kayakers who traverse the island through a series of streams, lakes, trail portages. There are also shelters and cabins along the way. It is sought after as an outdoor activity and as another way to see the wildlife and take photographs along the way.
- Canal Route: 32 Miles Long, 8 Major Lakes, 7 Portages
Admiralty Island is jointly administered by the Tongass National Forest and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
Wildlife On Admiralty Island
The island is home to the highest density of brown bears (aka grizzly bears) in North America. Is it estimated that 1,600 of these furry creatures all the island home - to put that in perspective, that is similar to the entire population of brown bears in the Lower 48.
The wildlife is the island's main attraction and draws people from far and wild to see its pristine environment and rich wildlife. The number below highlights what makes it so appealing to bear and bald eagle enthusiasts.
- Bear Population: Around 1,600 Grizzlies (Brown Bears)
- Human vs. Bears: Bears Outnumber People On The Island Three to One
- Eagles: Over 5,000 Eagles Live On The Island
- Pacific Salmon: All Five Species of Pacific Salmon Spawn Here
- Fun Fact: The Tlingit Call The Island "Kootznoowoo" or "Fortress of the Bear"
- Bald Eagles: The Island Has One of The Highest Densities Of Bald Eagles In The World
Visiting The Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area
One of the main places to visit is The Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area. From here visitors can see the brown bears in their natural habitat as they fish for the many salmon as well as interact with each other in the summer months.
- Permits: Permits Are Required to Visit Pack Creek (Available Through The Forest Service)
- Floatplane: It is a 30-Minute Floatplane Ride from Juneau
While here it is important to bear (sic) in mind that this is a wilderness area without any facilities. There are no bathrooms, no shelters, and no cell phone service. Also one will need to get their feet wet getting to the viewing area so it is advisable to bring rubber boots.
It is also safe. No one has been harmed at Pack Creek since it has been actively managed.
Most folks come to visit the island for the day on floatplanes from nearby Juneau. On landing, visitors are met by a ranger and then they hike a mile-long trail to the observation tower of the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area.