family bear outing

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Oct 30th, 2007, 12:39 AM
  #1
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family bear outing

My family of 5 (kids 13,10, & 7) are coming in August. Me and the 13 year old would love a bear trip. My dear hubby is Mr. Safety. I am worried that the whole encounter may freak him and the 7yr boy out. What is your experience? Should we just hope all works out from the bus in denali or go for Brooks falls?
Thanks for your help.
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Oct 30th, 2007, 05:46 AM
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You must take a bear trip. We went to Alaska this past August with our sons 9 and 11. The bears at Brooks were the highlight of our 2.5 week trip. You will see bears on the Denali bus but you will likely need binoculars to see them. We took the Denali bus all the way to the end of the road. Our driver said we were lucky because we saw a lot of wildlife that day. That being said, the wildlife tend to be pretty far off the road in Denali.
In contrast, at Brooks, we were on the platform and bears just 10 feet underneath us. It was truly an experience of a life time. Your kids will love it.
Yes, you are safe. I'm the most paranoid mom around, and I didn't have any problems with it. There are rangers all around at Denali who are very experienced in tracking the bears.
We did the fly in experience for Brooks. If I did it again, I would try to get reservations to spend the night at the lodge there foreven more bear viewing.
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Oct 30th, 2007, 05:48 AM
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I'm sorry for a few typos. I get excited thinking about our great bear excursion.

There are lots of rangers at BROOKS. (There are also rangers at Denali but I was trying to make the point that you will feel safe at Brooks).

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Oct 30th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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You might try fishing with High Adventure Air from Soldotna. You are pretty much guaranteed to see bears and pretty much guaranteed to catch fish at the same time. You fly out on a float plane and fish amongst the bears for 5 or 6 hours. We saw bears 90% of the time we were there. We saw over 20 of them. Dogsledding on a glacier was fantastic also. Do not miss a trip to see glaciers calving. We really enjoyed Kenai Fjords. I would not miss the train from Seward to Anchorage either. Bears are definately in Alaska. We nearly hit one in our car, and there were some even near the town of Seward (exit glacier) with cubs on a trail we were on. We were probably about 15 feet away from the bears while fishing. We were in a small boat. The bears don't pay any attention to you at all and it isn't scary in the least bit. They just catch fish. Some of the bears eat it right there, while others take it away from the stream and eat a little ways from where they caught it. I have never been to Brooks, but I am sure that would be something special as well. Be sure and check to make sure what time of year bears are at Brooks or wherever you go. Bears will on be there depending on what time of year Salmon are running. You will see literally thousands and thousands of fish when they are running. It is easy to catch them and the bears seem to have an easy time catching them also.
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Oct 30th, 2007, 08:08 AM
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Brooks has few bears in early August (they are off on the small feeder streams chasing spawning salmon) so it depends on when you go ... later in August the bears come back to the river to feed on the dying spawned out salmon and you'll see quite a few at close range from the trails and platform. So if you can do this the last week in August or later you'll be fine. This will likely be the highlight of your trip to Alaska.

I would be very cautious with a 7 year old child, you'll be OK if you keep him close to you but don't let him run loose. The bears are habituated but still walk around the cabins and are unpredictable.

Here's a photo of a bear that was munching grass between the Brooks cabins before the Ranger ran him off ... you can walk around the corner and bump into one of these laddies at any time ... http://www.hiltonphotography.net/ala...16_bear_cabins

Bill
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Oct 30th, 2007, 01:13 PM
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Great picture!!!
We are there August 2-11th.
Would you try Brooks or something else?
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Oct 30th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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We are there August 2-11th.
Would you try Brooks or something else?


I wouldn't go to Brooks at that time. The bears are concentrated around the falls in early July when the salmon are swimming upstream, then in late July and August the salmon are on smaller streams spawning and the Brooks bears are dispersed, then once the salmon are dying they get washed to the lower part of the river below the falls and the bears are there in big numbers again in late Aug - September to feed on these.

http://www.nps.gov/katm/planyourvisit/bear-watching.htm
Here's the NPS info on Katmai bear viewing dates, with Geographic Harbor and Hallo Bay being the best places for kids I think (Moraine and Funnel Creek area is higher and rougher than the coast). But typically these trips are from Homer.

I don't know the Lake Clark NP peak bear watching dates or areas as well but probably you can arrange something into a place like Silver Salmon Creek from Anchorage in early August.

Again, I would urge you to try to get a day of bear viewing in if possible, it will likely be the highlight of your trip.

Bill
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Oct 30th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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Hi kibouvette,
I just replied to your other thread and then spotted this one and thought I'd add my 2c.

If you have ANY inclination to do a bear trip, my advice is DO IT!!! WE did two this year - one to Brooks Falls to see the Grizzlies and one to Anan Creek (out of Ketchikan) to see the Black Bears (and one visiting Grizzlie) - these trips were the ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT of our trip! I don't know what I can say to describe how magnificent it was seeing those guys up close and I would absolutely have hated to have missed even one minute of it.
Re seeing bears in Denali or in other areas while driving - it is really pot luck. We had three bear sightings in Denali. The first one was of two 'dots' up in one of the hills, the second was of a Mom = 2 cubs pretty far away but you could make them out with binoculars and the third was of a lone bear maybe 40 metres away but we only got a few minutes with him because there were other buses lined up to see. We didn't see ANY other bears on out week long land trip even though we visited the areas where bears have been reported before (exit glacier etc). This is not saying that you will not see bears though, as I say, it's all pot luck and you might have some fantastic sightings without taking a dedicated excursion BUT, if you really want to see bears and spend some time watching them then take that excursion!!!
I second BillH though, you will be too late for Brooks in August - we were there at the end of July and they said that a week later the bears would be practically gone. If you decide on Halo Bay (my second choice - I had a hard time deciding between Brooks and Halo) you CAN fly from Anchorage. On the Halo Bay website there's a link to a site that 'charters' from Anchorage to connect with the Halo Bay flight. I don't know much about Lake Clarke for your time of visit. If you contact the operators they will tell you where the bears will most likely be for your time frame.

Happy travels!
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Oct 30th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Go with one of the bear tours that will take you wherever the bears are. We were there at the very end of July, first week of August this past summer and we saw dozens of bears at Brooks. They had not moved on yet.
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Oct 30th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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Hi padams,
We were there July 24th and there were still a fair amount of bears (I counted 14 in one go from what I remember) but the rangers were telling us that a week later and we would be more or less out of luck. I'm just curious as to when you were there and roughly how many bears were still hanging around? Did you see the guy with the 'lip' at the falls??

Thanks!
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Oct 31st, 2007, 10:28 AM
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I am understanding that both the Halo Bay and the Silver Salmon Creek tours go out of Anchorage?

Were are these destinations? Katmai?
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Oct 31st, 2007, 02:14 PM
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I am understanding that both the Halo Bay and the Silver Salmon Creek tours go out of Anchorage?

The flights to the Hallo Bay camp are from Homer, flights to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge are either from Anchorage if there are 3 or more people, or Soldotna for 1 or 2 people. These are for overnight trips ... for day trips different flights can be arranged, but the longer the flight time the less bear viewing time.

Were are these destinations? Katmai?

Hallo Bay is in Katmai National Park, SSCL is in Lake Clark National Park ...

http://www.hallobay.com/
http://www.silversalmoncreek.com/

Bill

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Nov 1st, 2007, 12:17 PM
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Thanks for all of the information.

To fly to siver salmon creek form anchorage is an extra $150pp.

My only option for flying out of anchorage without penalty is brooks.
I spoke to them and as you all said the bears will be there but off of the falls at that time.

The trips to Halo bay and to Silver Salmon Creek are much less expensive for the overnight stay. My family of 5 should save ~$500.

How long will it take to get to Soldotna from the Seward Hwy?
We will be coming up from Seward back to Anchorage at that part of our trip.

Any opinion as to weather Halo or Silver Salmon are best?

Thanks again!!!
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Nov 1st, 2007, 02:03 PM
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I think the options from Anchorage are more limited than they are further south but if you use a search engine and type 'anchorage bear trips' you'll find companies that fly out from Anchorage ... here's an example, in Aug they go to Redoubt Bay or Lake Clark ...
http://www.flyrusts.com/bears.html

If you are *really* keen on a good bear viewing trip at that time of year then I think the best bet is to visit Homer and go with someone like Bald Mountain or Emerald Air. They have half a dozen places they fly to, from Brooks or Hallo Bay or wherever, depending on where the bears are at that time, so they can offer a 'see bears or money back' guarantee.

Make sure you ask if there is a problem with the younger kids, I think I remember a 12 year limit somewhere. These guys fill up quickly but they offer very high quality trips.
http://www.emeraldairservice.com/
http://www.baldmountainair.com/

You will see more bears close up in a day with them than you'll see close up from the Denali shuttle bus in a month.

Bill
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Nov 1st, 2007, 03:20 PM
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You can actually take a 'connecting' flight from Anchorage to Homer to Halo Bay but this will add to your costs. We flew to Brooks with Regal Air this year and they were great. One thing to note, from what I have heard, flights out of Anchorage to Kenai get cancelled more than those out of Homer, Soldotna due to weather. Also, be sure to check out the operator in detail before booking - I read recently on another forum of a family booking a trip which involved taking a flight to a boat where they were supposed to go on a bear watching trip by boat (I think it could have been in Redoubt) but when they got to the boat they were told that there were no bears so there was no point going on the boat :0 - I would have been super P***** if that was me!

One other thing, BillH mentions that many operators take you to Halo but from my previous research I believe there is a difference between going with the Halo Bay operators (the guides / owners actually stay in the area while the baers are around so know whete to go to find them apparently) and other operators - I think these operators don't go to the same area (I could be wrong though - just be sure to check it out so there's no crossed wires ).
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Nov 3rd, 2007, 07:39 AM
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This is good advice. If you were going earlier, I'd definitely say Brooks, but in Aug, Brooks is not the place for bears. It is in July and again in Sept.

BEAR CAMP LAKE CLARK
http://www.greatalaska.com/lcbl/pricelcbl.html

I spent three days there a couple years ago and had good bear viewing--up to 40 in a panoramic view with 5 sets of mother & 3 cub families.

Bear watching was done from two places: (1) A platform overlooking a sedge grass field, with small streams, surrounded by mountains. Breathtaking! (2) A spot on the ground overlooking a small river. Also lovely. You could walk between the two spots with a guide. With the exception of one curious bear, the bears were not anywhere near as close as Brooks or Hallo Bay Lake Clark was the only place I needed my mosquito netting.

You can fly in for the day from Soldotna.

HALLO BAY
http://www.alaska.net/~kodiak/

Spent 9 days at Hallo Bay Wilderness Camp but can also comment on the day trip, as I did that one day with the short-term guests. There are bears doing something at Hallo Bay all season from early June into October. There is sedge grass in the meadows, salmon runs in n the streams, and when the tide is low the bears can dig for clams.

All bear viewing is done on foot at a safe distance. At times the bears approached us within several yards as they meandered around. I never saw anything aggressive. In mid-July I averaged a dozen bears a day that were easily photographed, which was a bit below average. The day-trippers saw about 6-8 bears, some that lingered nearby for up to an hour or more. Also saw two wolves. Several red foxes were quite inquisitive and came within a foot or two. Eagle viewing was wonderful too.

If you decide to stay for a few days you can do more hikes to see bears in different areas. The whole Hallo Bay is beautiful. I'd definitely recommend a couple of days stay.

You fly in from Homer. Weather can be very unpredicatable, so extra days on either end are suggested.

You may or may not see bears in Denaili. If you do, they will be much further away than the bear camps. The more time at Denali the greater the odds of bears.

Whatever you decide, check on age limits with the 7-year old.

Have fun.
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Nov 7th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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You all have been very helpful.

The 7 yr old has been an issue.
They will take him but do not think he will like the 3-4 hrs of viewing.

Clint with Hallo has recommended Natron air out of Soldonta as an option. They take you to the bears guaranteed to watch on the beach for an hour or so then it is off to flightsee over the volcanos and glaciers and look for other fun wildlife. The best part is $300pp.

What do you all think of this as an option?

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Nov 7th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Bear fight:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVS1UfCfxlU

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Nov 7th, 2007, 05:19 PM
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Thanks for the clip

I don't think bear bells would have helped in that situation.

That must have been a Kodi"rack" bear.

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Nov 8th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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If Clint recommended it, I would at least check them out. Does Natron Air take you to Chinitna Bay around Lake Clark? That was a great place to see bears.
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