Grizzly Bear Or Brown Bear
What’s the difference between the brown bear and the grizzly? Brown bears are the ones you’re more likely to see on your voyage, since they live where the salmon do, along the southwestern coast and Gulf of Alaska. Grizzlies are simply brown bears that live inland. Brown bears can weigh up to 800 pounds and reach a height of eight feet when standing on their hind legs. And they’re fast, able to run 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Brown bears can be watched safely by people who keep their distance, so you’ll want binoculars or a long camera lens. The bus tours of Denali National Park usually come across the park’s blond grizzlies browsing or sleeping. In southwestern Alaska, browns gather to catch salmon in the Brooks River of Katmai National Park visitors watch from a viewing deck.
What Is The Best Month To Cruise Alaska
The best month to visit Alaska depends on what you hope to experience during your trip.
- Do you want as much sun and daylight as possible? Then book a June or July cruise.
- Would you like to see lots of wildlife? Then purchase a May, August, or September cruise as these months feature young animal families and migrations.
- Do you want to get into the interior and see Denali National Park or the Yukon? Then select July or August.
- Are you chasing bright tree foliage? Then book a cruise at the end of August or in September.
- Would you like to avoid mosquitoes? Then May and September are the best months for your cruise.
- Are northern lights on the itinerary? Then your trip will be in September or October. Would you like to fish for salmon? Then select any summer or shoulder month.
The good news is that no matter which month you choose, your Alaskan cruise will reward you with incredible experiences and memories that last a lifetime.
Winter In Alaskadecember Through March
Winters in Alaska can be harsh and beautiful. Weather is extremely cold and storms are severe. Winter activities such as dog sledding, snow shoeing and skiing are possible. A popular attraction during Alaskas winter is viewing the northern lights . Specialty lodges offer comfortable accommodations for hearty travelers willing to brave cold long nights to witness this spectacle of nature.
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How Far In Advance Should You Book An Alaskan Cruise
six to 12 monthsFor Alaska cruises, we strongly recommend booking at least six to 12 months out, as the cruise season runs only from May to September, says DeLaCruz. And staterooms with balconies are highly desirable for Alaska cruising, so its important to book early to be assured a balcony cabin in your preferred location.
Do You See Wildlife On Alaska Cruise
Alaska wildlife includes some of the most amazing animals on the planet, making it a dream destination for anyone who appreciates nature. See otters floating through the water or orca whales surfacing from the sea. Head into the depths of the Inside Passage for the chance to see hundreds of animals on an Alaska cruise.
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Alaska Wildlife Map & Highlights
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About Our Kaktovik Polar Bear Tours
Polar bears area amongst the largest land mammals in North America. Ranging from 900 to 1,600 lbs, a full-grown bear can measure up to 8 feet tall. The current overall estimate of wild polar bear population is approximately 20,000 25,000 worldwide.
Viewing polar bears in the wild is one of the most unique experiences in the world. Take a walk on the wild side and see polar bears in their natural habitat before they are gone. Safely view and photograph polar bears, in a rare and special wildlife encounter. Visit the Inupiat Eskimo village of Kaktovik, which is located along the coast of the Arctic Ocean on Barter Island and is the only village within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Kaktovik is the best place for viewing the polar bears, this fascination King of the Arctic. Viewing polar bears from a boat is your best opportunity to see and photograph the polar bears in their environment in a safe and responsible way.
– WE HAVE TWO TOUR OPTIONS, 5 OR 7 DAYS –
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Spitsbergen Svalbard Archipelago Norway
The island of Spitzbergen is famously home to more polar bears than people and is the most popular choice for Arctic expeditions in summer given the sheer array of experiences on offer. On a multi-day expedition cruise from Longyearbyen the northernmost city on earth you can circumnavigate Svalbard and reach Nordaustlandet in the far north-east, where pack ice attracts a multitude of wildlife, including polar bears. An estimated 3000 polar bears inhabit the Svalbard archipelago out of a worldwide count thats estimated to be between 20,000 and 25,000. Arctic expedition cruises from Spitzbergen are ideal for those who dream of wild Arctic adventures but prefer having a few mod-cons along for the ride all expedition ships here offer a multitude of luxuries.
Polar bear slips into the icy Arctic waters near Spitzbergen. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Alaska By Month: When To Go & Why
Alaska is open for travel year-round, but the primary tourist season begins in June and ends in August. The Alaska by month travel season calendar below brings in April and early spring, because that is when the yearly travel season kicks off.
The guide below will help you determine the best month to visit Alaska. It will outline Alaska weather by month and answer questions such as When is summer in Alaska? and What month is the best time to visit Alaska? or When is the best time to go to Alaska? We strive to give you the information to answer these questions based on your own travel timing and interests. We hope this guide helps you make the most of your Alaska summer vacation. For even more information and detailed climate tables, view our Alaska climate page.
In the monthly guide below we refer to Coastal, Interior and Arctic regions:
- The coastal region includes Southeast Alaska and the Alaska Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, Southcentral Alaska including Prince William Sound, Anchorage, Kodiak Island, as well as coastal Katmai National Park and the Aleutian Islands.
- Interior Alaska is the region north of Anchorage up to the Brooks Range just north of Fairbanks and includes Denali National Park.
- Arctic Alaska includes the Brooks Range north to the Arctic Ocean.
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Day Land Only From $9839
3 Nights – Bear Lodge, Fairbanks
2 Nights – Denali Cabins, Denali National Park
1 Night – Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Talkeetna
2 Nights – Kodiak Inn, Kodiak
2 Nights – Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage
Fairbanks + City Tour
Kaktovik Polar Bear Viewing above Arctic Circle
Chena Hot Springs and Ice Museum
Exclusive Trail Breaker Kennel Iditarod Presentation
Alaska Railroad – Goldstar First Class
Denali National Park Big Five Wildlife
42 Mile Wildlife Tour
Devils Canyon Jet Boat Tour
Kodiak Bear Viewing Expedition
Russian Orthodox Church and Russian Tea Lunch
Anchorage + City Tour
Breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Included Meals: 29 Meals
Day 1: Arrive in Fairbanks
Arrive in Fairbanks today and be transferred to the Bear Lodge, your home this evening. The remainder of your day is free to explore the area on your own. A welcome reception will be held at your hotel this evening. This is a time to meet your fellow travelers and your tour manager.
Dinner Included Hotel Overnight: Bear Lodge, Fairbanks
Day 3: Chena Hot Springs and Trail Breaker Kennel
This morning journey to the beautiful and therapeutic Chena Hot Springs where you will spend the day.Take a dip in the healing waters or visit the Ice Museum for one of their famous apple martinis in a carved ice glass before returning to Fairbanks. Your dinner includes an educational presentation at Trail Breaker Kennel where youll meet the sled dogs.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included Hotel Overnight: Bear Lodge, Fairbanks
On Land You Will Find:
Some of the animals you might see in the water may also be spotted on land. Harbor seals, sea lions, and puffins spend their time between the water and the shoreline. Obviously, you can see bald eagles flying over the water too.
You may even be lucky enough to see a bear down by the rivers and streams. They spend their time there grabbing salmon to eat.
Oh, and if you are wanting to see polar bears when you are in Alaska, you must plan carefully. These animals only live in the Arctic. That means you must visit one of the coastal Arctic villages to see them in their natural habitat.
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Will You See Wildlife On An Alaska Cruise
There are so many ways to see wildlife in Alaska. If you are taking an Alaskan cruise, you can see some of the marine animals right from the ship. When you want to see the wildlife on land, your best option is to sign up with one of the multiple tour groups. Each tour group specializes in certain areas and animals. Therefore, we can discuss what you are interested in seeing, so I can find you the perfect tour group for your Alaskan vacation.
Ride The White Pass And Yukon Route Railway
If your cruise ship stops over in Skagway, you’ll find an old gold rush boomtown community complete with shops, bars, restaurants, and historical buildings. Although you can easily spend the entire day exploring Skagway, a ride on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway is not to be skipped. This route travels up into the mountains, providing scenic views and a glimpse into former gold miners’ lives. Some White Pass combination rail and bus excursions include a stop at the Yukon Suspension Bridge, which is another great photo opportunity.
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Why A Small Ship = The Best Wildlife Viewing
Yes, you can take both a large ship and a small ship when going on an Alaskan cruise. There are pros and cons to each option. However, in my opinion, a small cruise ship is so much better for viewing wildlife.
When I went on my small Alaskan cruise, we ended up spending hours watching a pod of whales in the water. The captain of our ship was more than happy to go out of our way a little bit to be near the whales. And he wasnt stressed about not moving at a certain speed to reach our next destination.
This never would have happened if I had booked with a larger cruise line because they have a schedule to keep. I will definitely be doing more small ship cruises in the future for this reason!
Other reasons why the smaller ships are better include the fact they can fit into those smaller areas of Alaska. If a lot of seals or puffins are hanging out in a shallow harbor, only a small ship will be able to access that area.
Choosing The Right Itinerary
The Inside Passage is included in over 90% of Alaskan cruise itineraries. In fact, if you want to visit another region of Alaska, you’ll need to take a special expedition cruise itinerary.
Whilst almost every cruise itinerary unfolds within the Passage, there are actually numerous routes and ports that can be explored .
Larger cruise lines can only stop at the major ports such as Juneau, Seaward, Ketchikan, Skagway, Icy Straight, etc.
Expedition cruises visit numerous other ports. This also means you can choose Northern and Southern itineraries, depending on the area of the Passage you wish to explore. On longer itineraries, you can explore the whole Passage!
Prince William Sound
Discovered by explorer James Cook in 1778, Prince William Sound is a rugged frontier, ideal for expedition lovers.
Surrounded by the second largest forest in the United States – the Chugach National Forest, the Sound is an oasis of calm water protected by 3,800 miles of coastline.
Wildlife in this region thrives. Whales, seals and sea otters are seen daily int e water whilst both black and brown bears can be seen along the coastline.
The Sound holds the densest concentration of tidewater glaciers on the planet, giving passengers a unique view into the fragile environment of Alaska.
Katmai and Kodiak
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The Hidden Polar Bear Spotting Tactic
Choose the smallest ship you can afford!
Timing and destination play a huge role in your chances of seeing polar bears but so too do being aboard a small and compact expedition ship, one that can explore narrower inlets and coves where the bigger ships cannot go. On smaller ships, you can also sail closer to coastlines and iceberg, which is priceless when you consider most polar bear sightings are along the Arctic coastlines and atop flowing ice. Small ship cruisingis ideal for innumerable reasons: aside from more in-depth itineraries, they also offer a much more intimate experience and have been found to be more environmentally-friendly. Primarily, however, small ship Arctic expeditions offer more rewarding wildlife watching, with more time on Zodiacs offered to each guest and more personalised service overall.
Arctic expeditions are among the most mesmerizing wilderness and wildlife adventures in the world and seeing polar bears is but one of the many unforgettable highlights. Although no expedition could ever guarantee a sighting, do know that most guests will see polar bears in the Arctic and weve enjoyed all sorts of sightings, from solitary bears on ice floes to big groups of famished beasts stalking a seal colony.
Day 8 Wiseman A Taste Of Alaska Lodge
You will be heading south this morning, across the Brooks Range and back into the Boreal Forest of Interior Alaska. Driving the Dalton is always an adventure. Frommers Guide described the Dalton Highway as follows: The experience of the Dalton Highway for a traveler is so far beyond the ordinary as to require a whole new frame of reference to take it all in. The road is so very long, so remote and free of traffic, and the scenery is so mind-boggling in its grandeur and repetition, that after a time it feels like youre living in a dream. At some point, you have to swallow and say to yourself, I guess I didnt know that much about the world after all. Your destination for the night is A Taste of Alaska Lodge, a gorgeous B& B along Chena Hot Springs Road.
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Where To See Polar Bears In The Wild
Polar Bear Tours in Alaska and Canada
Polar bears are found in Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland, Norway, and other locales above the Arctic Circle. Since polar bears spend most of their time in the sea hunting food, the best time for viewing is when the ice melts and they spend most of their time on shore. These marine mammals, which are on the Endangered Species List, are truly magnificent to behold, particularly in their own natural environment.
The boars, or males, can weigh in excess of 1,400 pounds and the adult sows, or females, weigh approximately 600 pounds. A boar can stand more than 10-feet tall on its hind legs, which makes it a creature you don’t want to see up close and personal, unless you’re a safe distance away or inside the confines of a special viewing vehicle.
Day 2 Fairbanks Wiseman
You head north along the James Dalton Highway, a 414 mile road connecting Deadhorse to the Elliot Highway near the town of Livengood, located approximately 80 miles north of Fairbanks. Made famous by the recent Ice Road Trucker series, its considered by many to be one of North Americas most scenic and beautiful wilderness roads. Also known as the Haul Road, the Dalton Highway is critical to the delivery of material, equipment and supplies to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. You will travel through the boreal forest and north of the Yukon River you will reach a milestone on our trip: the iconic Arctic Circle, an invisible line at the elegant latitude of 66º33. North of the Arctic Circle is the land of the midnight sun, where the sun never sets during the summer. Soon after crossing the Arctic Circle you will reach the foothills of the Brooks Range, and a couple hours later you will arrive at our oasis in the wilderness in Wiseman, population 13, a historic gold mining community town located in the heart of the Brooks Range. During our nights in Wiseman we will keep a watchful eye for the northern lights. Wiseman is located closed to what scientists describe as the maximum zone close to 67 degrees north. This makes Wiseman one of the best places in Alaska where you can see the northern lights most often and with greatest intensity.
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Polar Bear Cruises: Best Arctic Sailings For Polar Bear Spotting
Arctic cruises are among the surest ways to spot polar bears in the wild, but as an old Inuit saying goes: “Before you have seen a polar bear, a hundred bears have seen you.”
A captain on an expedition cruise in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago once advised, “There are three types of polar bears: shy bears who avoid people ignorers, who have no interest in humans and curious bears — the kind you don’t want to encounter on land.”
Though sightings are never guaranteed, you’re most likely to spot polar bears on sea ice or in the ocean, where they spend the bulk of their time hunting marine prey, such as seals. But sadly, these symbols of the wild Arctic are also becoming emblematic of climate change. Shrinking sea ice and melting permafrost have diminished their habitat, and scientists estimate fewer than 25,000 remain in the wild.