We are open today until 5:30 pm. Call 020 7590 0610

Wildlife in Alaska

Article content

23 February 2015 by Heather Harris

A huge and un-spoilt region with a human population density lower than any country in the world, Alaska is a haven for wildlife. The vast tundra, mountain ranges, forests and fjords are home to an extraordinarily diverse and abundant fauna, including the Northern version of the Big Five: brown bear, moose, caribou, killer whale and humpback whale.

Because of Alaska's sheer size - several of its parks are six million acres or more - it has intact ecosystems that include a full-range of predators, vast herds of caribou, and incredible returns of wild salmon. Its vast mountains, tundra, glaciers, and big undammed rivers are a particular feature of the state, which are not commonly seen down south, and are an ideal environment for wildlife to thrive.

The best times of the year to visit in order to view this startling wildlife is between mid-May and mid-September, when the days are long, nature is in full bloom, temperatures are at their warmest and wildlife at its most active. The peak bear-viewing season is in their mating season in May and June. Moose are best seen in late August and September, whilst caribou peak from mid-June to mid-July.

Brown Bear

Brown Bear

There has to be a large, powerful carnivore at the top of every food chain, and the king of the north is definitely the bear. The most commonly found in Alaska is the famous black bear. Numerous lodges offer bear safaris, and June - September are best for seeing bears gather by falls to fish at the annual salmon run, stocking up before their winter hibernation. One of the most populous bear locations is the McNeil River in Katmai National Park, while a visit to Kodiak Island will afford opportunities to see the larger Kodiak bear. The closely related polar bear is also found in Alaska, typically on the Arctic coast in the Far North.



The Alaskan variety of these great antlered elk is also known as the giant moose, and therefore well worthy of a place on this 'Big Five' list. Moose are found in forests throughout most of the state. They're solitary beasts, so don't expect to see a vast herd spread out over a plain, but in late August and September the rut brings local males together to compete for mates. Denali National Park is a great place to witness the sights and experience the powerful scents and cacophonous sounds of this clash of the titans. However, moose can be spotted all over the state – even in Anchorage which has as many as 1,500 moose within the city limits. 



Known as reindeer in Europe, huge herds of caribou roam much of the Alaskan wilderness, constantly searching for food. Much like the wildebeest, zebra and antelope of East Africa, caribou engage in an annual mass-migration seen in its most poetic form from the air, as hundreds of thousands of beasts trek to summer pastures in the north. The migration runs in stages, but its peak in terms of numbers is from mid-June to mid-July, just after the calving season, as increased insect activity in warmer climes becomes particularly bothersome to the caribou and they flee north in search of cool breezes.

Killer Whale

Killer Whale

These large marine predators are amongst the most enigmatic and iconic in the ocean. They're found worldwide, but such is their intelligence that different pods have developed unique forms of communication and hunting techniques, and this observation has increased their mystique. In Alaskan waters you'll be able to find whales in the fjords, straits and sounds of the southern coast, with Kenai National Park and Prince William Sound offering perhaps the best and most accessible opportunities. Here you'll be able to see both the more common resident killer whales, which live in complex social groups and eat mainly fish, and the less frequently seen transient killer whales, which eat mammals and live in smaller, less developed groups. The best time to see them is from June to September.

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Another massive marine animal that can be seen on summer whale-watching trips from the southern coast is the humpback, characterised by its huge pectoral fins and, as the name would suggest, its humped head. As with other whales, humpback behaviour has fascinated humans, and it is humpback song that has found fame as whale 'music'. Other than this, humpbacks are known for being friendly with many other whale species, even travelling together in diverse groups. A whale-watching trip should also offer chances to see another key form of humpback communication, as they slap their giant tailfins onto the surface of the water, or, more impressively given their mass, a full breach as the whale leaps right out into the air, coming down with a slapping splash.

Related offers

Humpback whale, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Vancouver to Alaska with Regent Seven Seas

10-day luxury ocean cruise from £6,355 pp incl. flights

cruise offer

Free 2-Category suite upgrade
Book by: 20 February 2023

This in-depth appreciation of Alaska will see you explore its most dramatic landscapes, including the famous Hubbard and Mendenhall glaciers. Sail aboard Seven Seas Explorer, where all-inclusive, gourmet dining and a wonderful array of included excursions await.

Rocky Mountaineer travelling along the water on Journey through the Clouds

Rocky Mountaineer & Alaska with Regent Seven Seas Cruises

14-day luxury rail & cruise holiday from £9,330 pp incl. flights

cruise offer

Free 5-night Rocky Mountaineer land tour selected 2023 dates
Book by: 20 February 2023

Pair a luxury journey on board Canada's famous Rocky Mountaineer with an all-inclusive Alaska cruise with Regent Seven Seas, enjoying all-inclusive, gourmet dining and a programme of immersive excursions.

Long Beach Lodge Resort

Long Beach Lodge Resort, Tofino

Traditional lodge

Long Beach Lodge Resort is perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean with stunning views, immersed in the West Coast wilds, while only a short distance outside Tofino.

Nimmo Bay

Nimmo Bay Resort Coastal Safari

8-day tailor-made holiday from £8,280 pp incl. flights

This tailor-made itinerary sees you start among Vancouver's coastal gems before heading to spectacular Nimmo Bay in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. You'll stay in your own private cabin, spending days bear watching and kayaking in the wilderness.

Aerial view of Thousand Islands National Park

Toronto, Montréal & 1000 Islands by Rail

8-day tailor-made holiday from £2,090 pp incl. flights

This tailor-made rail journey combines the urban highlights of Toronto and Montréal with the history of Canada's first capital and the beauty of the Thousand Islands National Park.

Fogo Island Inn

Fogo Island Inn & Newfoundland Break

8-day tailor-made itinerary from £5,095 pp incl. flights

Explore the stunning region of Newfoundland & Labrador, starting among St. John's' colourful row houses before staying at the impressive Fogo Island Inn, where you'll enjoy whale watching, scenic hikes, rooftop saunas and hot-tub soaks.

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0610 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

Expert advice & support

Visit us in our London office

Let our travel specialists curate the perfect holiday:

  • Inspirational ideas based on experience
  • Established for over 50 years
  • Tailor a holiday to your precise requirements
  • Personalised quotes and documentation

Every step of the way

Every step of the way

Our services are with you from start to finish:

  • Dedicated personal consultants
  • Free airport lounges on qualifying bookings
  • Care and guidance pre, post and during holiday
  • Full financial security: ABTA & ATOL protected