Pack Creek Wildlife Viewing Site


Visitors and staff at Pack Creek sometimes encounter a bear while walking along the beach

Pack Creek is located about 40 miles south of Juneau in the northeast corner of Admiralty Island. Also called “Kootznoowoo,” or “Fortress of the Bears,” by the native Tlingit people, the island is home to an estimated 1,500 brown bears—more than all the lower 48 states combined.

Admiralty Island also contains the highest concentration of bald eagles in the world, and Sitka black-tail deer thrive in its rich sedge meadows and old-growth forest. Mink, marten, and otter are also common along the island’s shores, as are many varieties of birds. There are no black bears on Admiralty Island.

From its headwaters 4000 feet above sea level, Pack Creek descends rapidly to the saltwater of upper Seymour Canal. Sediment picked up by the creek is deposited at its mouth, creating a 400-acre mud flat. These flats are an important source of food for many animals, including bears, which feed on clams, shellfish, and other creatures.

Peak bear viewing on Pack Creek usually follows the return of pink and chum salmon, generally the first week of July. To protect the bears and other wilderness resources, a permit is required to visit Pack Creek between June 1 and September 10. Please see the permit information at the bottom of this page.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: 09:00 to 21:00
Reservations: Permits are processed online through or their toll free number 1-800-877-444-6777. Refund information and policy can be found there too.
Rentals & Guides: Only the following guide services are authorized to offer tours to Pack Creek during the peak season from July 5 to August 25. Pack Creek Outfitters
Fees Permits are required to visit Pack Creek from June 1 through September 10. The cost of your permit depends on your age and the date of your visit: Peak Season - From July 5 through Aug. 25 permits are
  • Adult (16 to 61): $50
  • Junior (under 16): $25
  • Senior (over 61): $25
Shoulder Season - From June 1 through July 4 and Aug. 26 through Sept. 10 reduced fees apply;
  • Adult (16 to 61): $20
  • Junior (under 16): $10
  • Senior (over 61): $10
Permit Info: Between July 5 through Aug. 25 permits must be obtained through or Outside those dates permits may still be purchased through those websites or as an option they may also be obtained from the staff at Pack Creek upon arrival. Golden Age and Golden Access passes are not valid at this recreation area.
Open Season: June 1
Usage: Heavy
Closest Towns: Juneau
Water: No
Restroom: No
Operated By: Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game

General Information


Pack Creek is approximately 30 miles south of Juneau. There is no road to Pack Creek. Access is by floatplane or watercraft ONLY.

There is no road to Pack Creek. Access is by float plane, motorboat, sailboat, kayak, or canoe only. Most visitors arrive by float plane from Juneau; the trip usually takes about 30 minutes each way.

Whichever method you choose, remember that the weather in Southeast Alaska is often poor and always unpredictable. Flights are sometimes cancelled due to high winds and poor visibility. Be prepared for this contingency by bringing rain gear, extra clothing, snacks, and any vital medications. You will also disembark at Pack Creek in 8-12 inches of water so make sure you have rubber boots.

General Notes:

The Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area is a Wilderness Area, which means there are no facilities on site, including no bathrooms, no shelter from the elements (except at the Observation Tower), and no cell phone service. Wilderness visitors face inherent risks of adverse weather conditions, isolation, physical hazards, and lack of rapid communications.

Pack Creek is managed cooperatively by the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, whose staff are available to provide orientations and answer questions during your visit. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a ranger at the South Spit and given an orientation after which you will either walk to the Viewing Spit or to the Observation Tower. The ranger will provide advice on the likelihood of seeing bears at both of these areas, but you will be free to decide where you want to go. The ranger will also review all of the rules to be followed while visiting Pack Creek.


Beaches & Dunes

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Nature Viewing

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Viewing Wildlife

Wildlife viewing and hiking
Special FeatureThe Pack Creek Wildlife Viewing Area has two primary viewing areas; the tower which is associated with the trail and the Viewing Spit. The spit is a raised gravel bar overlooking the creek tidal estuary and is the primary viewing location.
SpeciesThe Alaskan Brown Bear is the primary species of interest however salmon, bald eagles, deer, mink, beaver, otter and many other birds and animals inhabit the forest and streams in the Pack Creek area.
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Viewing Plants

Plant and habitat viewing
Special FeatureAn area where old growth temperate rain forest meshes with a dynamic coastal marine environment.
SpeciesPack Creek lies within a coastal temperate rain forest. Several types of ecological zones and habitat types are found within the viewing area from exposed alpine meadows to an intertidal estuary. Although spruce and hemlock forest dominate, other types of wetland can also be experienced including riparian areas along the creek.
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Viewing Scenery

The Pack Creek Viewing Area is surrounded by mountains and marine waterways.
Special FeatureThe area is a coastal temperate rain forest with lush vegetation growth. Low clouds and fog often add a primordial sense to the panorama.
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate
Areas & Activities


  Area/Length : 
The Pack Creek Zoological Area is approximately 66,000 acres.

  Latitude : 

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Bear Country Image

Bears of Alaska

Use of Recreation Fees in Alaska

Use of Recreation Fees in Alaska Link opens in a Pdf Document