Unique wildlife viewing experience of both brown and black bears!
Experience the thrill of taking off from the Ketchikan waterfront by floatplane with a veteran Alaska bush pilot on this unique wildlife expedition only available to a small number of visitors. Fly deep into the vast Tongass National Forest to one of Alaska’s premier bear viewing areas. This bear viewing location is one of a few sights in the world where you can watch both brown and black bear feed on spawning salmon. This once in a lifetime experience is only available to a select few as access to Anan Creek is restricted by U.S. Forest Service Permit.
After departing the Ketchikan waterfront in a DeHavilland Beaver or Otter, you will fly over Salmon Falls Resort, historic Loring (established before Ketchikan), over beautiful Behm Canal and continue over the rugged Cleveland Peninsula. This is one of the most spectacular natural wilderness areas in this part of Alaska. After landing on serene Anan Bay, you will receive a personal briefing from a U.S. Forest Service Park Ranger. Your naturalist bear guide will escort you on a half-mile hike along a groomed trail bordering a creek, to a secure bear observatory overlooking a beautiful waterfall.
Once on the viewing platform, you can look down on stunning rapids as the fast-flowing creek cascades towards the sea and the large numbers of salmon in the stream congregate to complete their spawning journey. Bears gather here to feed on the large run of pink salmon, as they head upstream to spawn. Bald eagles will be in abundance as they await the scraps left by the bears. You can view seals feeding on the bountiful harvest in the lagoon. Mink, marten and wolf also frequent the area. Ample time is provided to observe the wildlife activity in this forest ecosystem before the hike back to your awaiting aircraft. Interpretation by your pilot and guide will enhance this truly intimate natural experience, perfect for the nature lover and photographer.
Please Note: This tour operates July through mid-September. Weather could alter flight routes for safety and quality assurance. Taquan Air operates under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Wildlife sightings are frequent; however, they cannot be guaranteed.
Passenger names and weights are required by the FAA for weight and balance calculations and flight manifesting. To ensure aircraft weight and balance is within operating parameters, guests weighing 250 lbs. (clothed weight) or more may be required to pay an additional surcharge of $150 over the published fare direct to the tour operator. A no-bag policy applies; however, if you have medical needs that require a carry-on bag, please see the Shore Excursion office on board. All other bags brought to our terminal will be stored until you return from your flight.
If the weather is not suitable for a flight you will have an option to join Herring Cove’s Black Bear & Wildlife Exploration and your onboard folio will be credited the difference in the flight portion.
Taquan Air operates this tour under a special use permit issued by the United States Forest Service. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Need to Know
4.5 hours, including transfer
Comfortable hiking footwear and waterproof outerwear are recommended
Aircraft weight/balance may require guests 250 lbs or more to pay surcharge
Shopping opportunities will be available at Taquan Air's terminal
This experience involves an increased amount of physical activity including walking over uneven terrain and extended periods of standing. Comfortable, sturdy shoes are recommended.
Anan Creek Bear Viewing Tour our of Ketchikan – Excellent Flight, Outstanding Guide
Last year, Taquan (pilot Dave and guide Mark Phillips) did an excellent job at getting us to Anan Creek. However, due to our ship's limited time in port last year, along with poor tidal conditions, we were not able to actually get to the trail head and take our tour. This year, we again booked our Anan Creek tour with Taquan and we were not disappointed. From the bus drive to their terminal, to their check-in and flight briefing process, to the flight itself, and to the tour guide - Taquan offers a safe, informative and exciting tour.
The check in and safety briefing process was thorough, yet efficient (quick). We met with our pilot, Eric, immediately after the safety briefing, and he walked us down the pier to our plane. Eric got us situated on the plane, and then our tour guide arrived. To our pleasant surprise, our guide from last year - Mark Phillips - was again our guide this year! Within a few minutes we were skimming across the water and taking off from Ketchikan. Eric provided some commentary on various landmarks while we were en route to Anan Creek, and Eric's 45 minute flight from Ketchikan to Anan Creek was smooth and comfortable. At one point as we got near Anan Creek, we encountered a rain squall, and Mark and Eric communicated and made some adjustments which ultimately allowed us to safely land at the Anan Creek landing site.
For any tourists taking a float plane to Anan Creek, it is important to be aware that at low tide there can be significant logistics regarding where/how you get to the Anan Creek trailhead. When we arrived at Anan Creek, it was low tide - and Eric brought the plane to a small dock that was far enough off shore to avoid grounding the plane. Taquan had arranged a small boat to transport us from the dock to the shore, and that worked out very well.
If you remember any tip from this review, it is this: if you want to avoid the potential hassles and delays of low-tide arrivals at Anan Creek by float plane, make sure ahead of time that your pilot knows to putter into the entrance of the creek where the water is deep enough (even at low tide) for any float plane to drop off passengers just below the ranger briefing station. It is not worth your time, or the risk of grounding, to make land anywhere near the docks or the hut.
Let me say here that our guide, Mark Phillips, was awesome. Mark was friendly, knowledgeable, and he has the experience of having flown out to Anan Creek multiple times in the past. Mark was able to provide direct in-flight guidance to our pilot when weather conditions got a bit hairy. And Mark takes safety seriously: we were in bear country, and after we made land then Mark unpacked and holstered a weapon and bear spray - which made us feel safe on our hike.
After we got on land, and after Mark made the preparations for our hike to the bear viewing area, we met with the ranger at the base of the trail and listened to a briefing. We then set out on the approximately two-thirds of a mile hike up to the bear viewing area. As we got underway, Mark guided us in the proper way to group ourselves in case we encountered a bear on the trail. And Mark also provided expert commentary on plants and wildlife that we encountered on the hike. When we arrived at the bear viewing area, Mark helped us get signed up quickly so that we could get a slot in the bear viewing blind, and Mark continued to provide awesome commentary about different bears and occurrences that we saw when we were up at the viewing platform. I can't say enough great things about Mark; we highly recommend him if you can get him for your tour.
Taquan runs a great airline, they employ an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff (including expert guides), and our safety was their priority from start to finish. Taquan ultimately provided us with a fantastic and memorable tour, and we highly recommend them for anyone looking to take a flight/float plane tour out of Ketchikan.
They Went the Extra Mile – Thank You!
My wife, myself plus another couple tried to book a trip to Anan a few months in advance of our trip this past July. Every float plane company we called said that we were too late to book as there are only 60 visitor permits for this park issued for each day. All except one company and one person. A special SHOUT OUT to Danita Scott for convincing me to trust her and her going the extra mile to make this trip happen!! She was the only one to contact me back and inform me that 48 or 72 hours prior to the day we wanted to go 12 more permits are released and she would do all she could to obtain four permits for us. Our group committed money down to hold a float plane that would be refundable if the permits were not obtained. Danita and our tour guide AJ came through for us and got the permits! Now for the rest of the story.
A van picked us outside the cruise ship and took us to the Taquan Air offices. There we met our lovely and talented pilot Amanda (I think my name memory if right) and A.J. our guide. Our pilot could me a model but chose to be a pilot. Our group was glad she was our pilot. She took us and our guide on about a 45 minute float plane ride to Anan to see bears eat salmon from the stream.
Once arriving to the site our guide A.J. took control. A.J. had a pistol on his hip and a shotgun on his side. Our group was guided on about a 3/4 mile hike to an area controlled by the park to observe the bears. There are platforms at this site over the stream and also a blind that observers get 15 minutes at a time to watch the bears up close and personal. While we were there for a couple hours we observed over 20 different black bears coming to the stream to fish. Eagles flying all over too. It was AMAZING! It was like we were in the zoo cage (platform with only rails) and the bears were out in the open. The stream was "black" with so many salmon. A.J. did a great job explaining all the nature in the area and some of his past experiences. Our pilot was waiting for us after we hiked back to the start of the trail.
This tour is not always available since the fish do not always run the stream. Taquan Air Tours offer other options that can be purchased. This was one of the two top tours our group took while in Alaska for twelve days. We are so thankful Danita Scott talked me into trusting her and Taquan Air. You just start to wonder when you are asked to pay half in advance to someone you have never met!
THANK YOU to everyone involved from our Iowa group!
Float plane to black bears tour !!!!
OMG !!!!!!!!!!!! What a professional group, best excursion of our cruise trip. The pilots, planes, bus driver and staff ... A+++++++ Allie our Bear guide was the best, very friendly and knowledgeable about Alaska and the bears. Would highly recommend seeing Alaska via a sea plane.
Great Seaplane Ride with Bear Visit to Anan Creek
Incredible seaplane ride with a great pilot (very informative). The highlight was going to Anan Creek and seeing the bears feed on salmon. They are literally 2-3 ft away (you are on a deck overlooking them).
My kids (ages 22-28) wanted to see bears on our trip and we saw at least 10 of them. It was early in the season, so bears were not guaranteed. We hoped to see brown and black bears, but only saw black ones (and no cubs) but still well worth the trip. We booked on our own way ahead of the cruise as there are only so many permits issued a day in the area (6 on our day, and 2 were already taken). The seaplane ride takes about 30 min each way and is beautiful. Then you get out with a guide and do a short hike (15-20 min) to the ranger station at Anan Creek--need to be able to walk a mile over rocky terrain. You are there approx 2 hours seeing all the bears up close (approx 30 are there at a time when we went from other AK cities). It was really a once in a lifetime experience. Highly recommend!
Float plane to see Bears
The bears and Salmon ladder are amazing- nothing like it. The float plane ride was very authentic and our pilot was right out of Northern Exposure. I would absolutely do it again. Our guide to see the bears was dedicated and very knowledgeable.