Humpbacks and orcas and bears, oh my! And seals and porcupines and eagles and ...
If you're ready to take a walk on the "wild" side, Juneau has some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing in the world. You can get up close to whales, bears, seals, eagles, and even goats on a variety of local wildlife tours.
If it's whales you want, it's whales you're gonna get. The best time to whale watch is from April to November, when approximately 600 humpbacks inhabit the waters of the northern Inside Passage. Whale watching tours are offered in Juneau and near Glacier Bay. Daily boat tours to Tracy Arm rarely return without whale sightings - and you'll often spot many on a single trip.
The orca, or killer whale, is also common to Juneau. But our Shamu doesn't jump through hoops like he does at Sea World. These whales, though much smaller than humpbacks, have been known to pursue seals, moose, and even other whales.
Yes, that is a bear you're seeing outside the Best Western. Black bears are common not only in the forests around Juneau but immediately around the city, too. Averaging 200 to 600 pounds, Juneau's black bears are always a thrill to spot.
To see large bears, head out to Admiralty Island National Monument and the Kootznoowoo Wilderness Area. (Local trivia: Kootznoowoo is a Tlingit word meaning "Fortress of the Bears.") Big bears come a dime a dozen here - some 1,600 strong, or one for every square mile of the island.
The brave at heart can access Admiralty Island by kayak; the rest of us can take a boat or float plane. The best time to view bears follows the salmon run (smart animals, they) which varies from year to year but traditionally includes most of July and August.
Southeast Alaska is home to approximately 20,000 eagles, our beloved national icon. With a human population of about 70,000, that's almost one eagle for every three people who live here.
By the way, if you're searching for a good fishing spot, just look for where the bald eagles congregate. Bald eagles often collect at food sources, such as salmon spawning streams or herring spawning areas along the coast. When spawning salmon return to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery each summer, eagles concentrate at Juneau's Gastineau Channel. (Guess they're pretty smart, too.)