See the various wildlife at Fish Creek. Bears are the main attraction here but you'll also see bald eagles fishing. They are mainly grabbing the scraps left by the bears. This one is a young eagle claiming its prize. A grizzly had caught this fish but apparently it wasn't good enough. Most likely it was looking for fish with roe (eggs) as those have more calories.
See the salmon spawning. Every year thousands of these fish fight their way up Fish Creek from the ocean to mate and then die. This is their life cycle. The salmon attract bears, eagles, and other animals. Last July (2001), for the first time ever, wolves arrived near Fish Creek for very short intervals. This occured just before I arrived and during the time I was there. I didn't see them though, unfortunately. I spent almost 2 days watching the wildlife and was under the impression that the wolves would only come early or late in the day. So I made a day trip to Salmon Glacier. When I returned I learned that the wolves had been there for perhaps a minute in the middle of the day. That just goes to show you - wildlife is unpredictable. Mink have also been seen here. The dead fish start lining the banks in August and this creates a fishy stink that these animals love. They come from miles around.
Watch the bears in action. Grizzlies and black bears fish here. This one is called 'Brown Pants'. He is a black bear but is brown and black. The regulars here are named. It's easy to tell which bears are new to Fish Creek because they are quite timid and don't stay very long. Sows with cubs are also very wary as male bears will attack and eat bear cubs if the mood strikes them.
Watching and learning about bear behaviour. This mother grizzly sow and her cub were very cautious and hardly left the undergrowth. Bears stand to see better and this is not meant to be aggression. Cubs will stand quite a bit just because they are still so small. As I mentioned earlier, sows with young are very cautious. This one didn't catch any fish but fed on the remains that other bears had left behind.
This black bear really hung out at the edge of the undergrowth. It was very wary of the people but was becoming used to us. When a grizzly came into the area though it scampered into the trees and you could hear it running up the mountain. I took this picture at a rare moment when the sun shone through. For most of the time that I was here it was cloudy and drizzling. That makes photography a lot more difficult. I took about 3 rolls of film here in 2 days in order to get some decent pics.
This grizzly was named Nancy. She was quite the regular. She seemed to be around the most and seemed the most comfortable performing for us (fishing). I had one close encounter with this bear. I was standing on the platform near the end of the viewing time (just before dark) with two rangers when Nancy suddenly appeared out of the bushes just in front of us. She came out onto the path which was formerly used by viewers before the platform was built. She was really only a few feet away and she is huge! We all took a couple of steps back from the railing even though we were a few feet above her. It wouldn't be impossible for her to clear that railing... We watched as she peed a gallon on the path and then proceeded underneath us to the creek. Whew! That was something!
This is the most famous spot in this area, an area that has abundant wildlife present.
This day-use area in the Tongass National Forest is in the hands of the United States Forest Service.
They do a great job at maintaining the facilities clean and safe for visitors.
As bears are often seen all alongside the road here, the USFS had built wooden boardwalks to let visitors safely walk along the banks of the creek while looking for wildlife in this lush rainforest. There is a large viewing platform to the end of the boardwalk.
The entire viewing area is accessible with wheelchairs.
There is also a toilet available.
If lucky, you can see both black bears and brown bears (grizzly bears) fish for the salmon spawning here in the creek.
Often you can also see other wildlife there , such as Canadian geese, harlequin ducks, common mergansers, mink, beaver, bald eagles and a variety of songbirds. Wolves are also occasionally spotted fishing for salmon here.
The salmon run is usually from mid-July through early September, so this is also the best time to go there if you want to see the bears 'up close and personal'. The salmon species coming back here are chum and pink salmon.
Rangers are constantly on site during opening hours to answer every possible question you might have on the wildlife and nature in the area.
The best time to see the bears fishing is during the early morning hours or later in the evening.
We went there around 8 am and waited for over an hour without having anything around us move (apart from the 2-legged species of course).
Since the ranger said that there had been quite a number of bears already feeding in the very early morning hours, we decided upon visiting Salmon Glacier first and return late afternoon.
When we got back here, we had been waiting for 2,5 hours before the one and only bear we saw there decided on showing up.
Apparently (as one ranger told us) this was one of the more 'shy' bears, often not even coming close to the viewing platform. But on that day he decided to walk the entire length of the platform more than once, offering us a spectacle of hitting the salmon out of the water.
We didn't get to see any brown bears, eagles, wolves or other species you might come across here ... But that didn't spill the excitement.
We stayed for over an hour, walking back and forth on the boardwalk, depending on where the bear was moving to. Looking back at it, it must have been a funny sight ... all these people cluttering together and moving simultaneously from one side to the other ... :-)
It was a long wait, but it was definately worth the wait!
If you're taking kids there (as we did), make sure they have something to keep busy. There's only so much you can tell them about the bears and their environment while waiting.
Some safety tips
Bears often roam around on the roads near the creek. Remember, we are the ones invading their territory, not the other way around! If you happen to be around when that happens, make sure you keep in mind the 'rules':
* respect their need for space - don't stand between them and their feeding area
* avoid confrontations with more dominant bears
* move back and especially let them have room to pass by if they approach
You are urged to proceed as fast as possible to the boardwalks after leaving the car.
daily from 6 am to 10 pm.
Fees and passes
July 1 until September 30: $5 a day; $10 for 3 days; $20 for 7 days; $65 for the season.
You can pay this fee at Hyder Forest Service Office on-site and with local vendors.
Directions: on Salmon Glacier road leading from Stewart through Hyder.
Fish Creek Observatory is on the left hand side of the road.
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
Once you het to the little town of Hyder (and maybe spotted a grizzly or black bear feeding in the apptly named salmon creek), why not take a drive to have a view of Salmon Glacier. The first part of the road is OK... gravel, twisting around around the mountain you can have a beautiful view of the valley and one of the arms of the glacier. Then, the road becomes more difficult and it's likely you will be your own as go to the summit. Behold the magnificient view of this blue glacier thas streches as far as the eye can see. At this point, I felt like a true adventurer! We were on our own... in a remore place, facing a glacier. We carried on as far the road allowed us iuntil we got to what seemed like an abonned mine. Further down, one of the arm of the glacier was dying in a little pond of freezing cold water. We glanced at each others... it was not far, the slope was not that steep. Let's go touch the toes of the glacier. After 20 minutes, we were there. What an exhilarating feeling! Facing this wonder of nature. I even found an opening large enough for us to get into the glacier! It's just like being into a fridge... except everything is bathed the most celestial of blue light... Looking at the stone touching the ice, you realize the strenght of the ice, carving its way trhough the rocks... Impressive. A moment I'll never forget.
Address: Hyder, Alaska
The drive into Stewart and Hyder is fantastic-like being in another world! The glaciers and Mt. views are beautiful.
Directions: Head north through B.C.-there's one road that leads to the furtherest south point of Alaska-when you come to the info house-turn left-takes you over into Alaska in about an hour-road pretty good-did not have a 4 wheel.
- Adventure Travel
Of course the Bears are what visitors come for-when they're running the Salmon-we were there in Sept. Many bald eagles seen too.
Address: End of the road to the boardwalk of Hyder
- Adventure Travel
As we approached the Ranger area early one morn. we had many bears around getting ready to go chase for salmon-but this one had to get a scratch first!
Address: End of road at boardwalk and Ranger area in Hyder
- Adventure Travel
- Hiking and Walking