Anan Wildlife Observatory Site
Notice for 2022 early season visitors: Please be aware that construction on a new observatory deck is occurring in the spring of 2022. The viewing deck will not be available until July 1, and the trail may be closed at times. All work will be concluded for the start of the permit season July 5th.
The Anan Wildlife Observatory is located 30 miles southeast of the town of Wrangell. Anan Creek has one of the largest runs of pink salmon in Southeast Alaska, which supports the high density of black and brown bears. The facilities consist of a covered viewing shelter, decks, photo blind, and outhouses. You can now take a virtual tip to the site via the Anan NatureWatch Story Map.
Planning your trip - Anan is a world class bear viewing site that is growing in popularity, so planning your visit is essential. From July 5 through August 25, permits are required to visit. Access is by boat or floatplane only. Visitors arrive either with a personal boat/floatplane or use a guide service.
Obtaining a permit
Guided Trips: Most Anan visitors use an authorized guiding company. These companies provide transportation and permits. You can download this guide list with contact information: Authorized GUIDING companies
To help you plan your trip, the Anan Calendar website shows the calendar for Anan operation from July 5-August 25. It displays each authorized guide company and their available permits for each day. Contact an authorized guide directly to arrange permit and passage to Anan Wildlife Observatory.
Non-Guided Trips: For individuals who have their own boat/floatplane to arrive at Anan, there are 12 private permits available for purchase for each day on recreation.gov. Only persons who will not use any type of commercial service at Anan (those arriving with their own means of transportation and visiting without any hired escort) should purchase permits on recreation.gov. (Prior to 2021, individuals could purchase permits on recreation.gov and then find an outfitter and guide company to bring them to Anan. This is no longer allowed. This is a significant change in operations, so if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Wrangell Ranger District at 907-874-2323.)
The 12 private daily permits for the season become available on recreation.gov on February 1st at 8 am (AKST). Permits are not required outside of the July 5th -August 25th peak season.
Safety: You will be met at the trailhead by Forest Service personnel during the peak viewing season. They check permits and will brief you on trail conditions and safety. Unguided visitors walk the trail on their own – be sure to know the essentials of traveling in bear country: The Essentials for Traveling in Alaska's Bear Country
Trail: The wildlife observatory is accessed by a half-mile, 30" wide gravel trail with some steps and bridges. There have been recent imporovements to the trail, but the wet environment of SE Alaska can lead to slippery and muddy conditions. In addition, the photo blind located at the wildlife observatory is accessed through a stairway that is equivalent to three stories high.
At a Glance
|Operational Hours:||8AM to 6PM July 5 through August 25|
Authorized Guiding companies (60 permits/day)
Reservations may be made through recreation.gov (12 permits/day)
|Rentals & Guides:|
|Open Season:||July 5 - August 25|
|Restroom:||Outhouses, 1 at Trailhead, 1 at Deck|
|Operated By:||Forest Service|
|Information Center:||Frequently Asked Questions|
Mainland, 31 miles SE from Wrangell at Anan Bay across Ernest Sound from SE corner of Wrangell Island
Anan Creek is an area of rich history. The Stikine Tlingit clans had summer fish camps here and used Anan Creek’s large salmon spawning run to catch and preserve salmon for their winter food supply. Anan was unique because the large amount of salmon available made it possible to have several clans sharing one fish camp.
The abundance of salmon also drew non-native people to Anan Creek. In 1901, Pilot Fish Packing Company set up a large fish trap at the mouth of Anan that allowed few fish to make it up the creek. This lack of escapement was very destructive to the Anan salmon population. Commercial fish traps were outlawed shortly after Alaska became a state in 1959.
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information
The abundance of salmon attracts large concentrations of black bears, bald eagles, harbor seals, and a number of brown bears to feed. All this activity makes for exciting viewing and photography. People from around the world have come to enjoy the unique experience Anan offers.