Anan Bay, AK – Bear Country

Anan Bay Wildlife Observatory was one of the most memorable stops on our trip.  Sixty permits are available per day during the peak bear season (July and August) and we were lucky enough to secure a spot.  It takes a bit of planning to get there, given it’s remote location and unsafe anchorage.  And our visit was not with incident.

We arrived the day before our permits and found an anchorage with secure holding just 6 miles across the channel at Fool’s Inlet.  The name likely warned off other boaters.  We were the only boat in the large inlet.  Despite it’s name, we found it to be a safe anchorage.  We dropped the dinghy and crossed the channel to plan out our landing for the next day.

The Anan Bay ranger station is situated just outside a small narrow creek that runs from a tidal lagoon out to the channel so there is a fairly strong current running next to the entrance.  The tides were extreme during our visit (25 foot range from high to low) and a hundred feet or so of beach is exposed just to the south of the ranger station at low tide.  So that was not an option.  North of the ranger station is busy with commercial traffic dropping off passengers.  We decided we would stern tie right next to the ranger station with the anchor buddy, despite the strong current.

The next day we were ready with our permits in hand…but the anchor and currents were not agreeing.  After several attempts, we decided to motor around to the other side of the cove.  From there we would be able to hike the 1/2 mile path that leads to the ranger station.  We secured the dinghy with a stern anchor attached to a device called an “anchor buddy” that is really a long bungee cord that pulls the boat out into deeper water after we got out on the beach.   We tied the bow line off to a tree on shore and the anchor buddy pulled the line out to deeper water. Dougal was careful to watch the depths and to try to account for the large tidal exchange.  And we were off to see the bears.

The observatory is amazing.  We met the ranger at the ranger station and he gave us the quick bear tutorial.  We were instructed to make a lot of noise on our 3/4 mile walk to the observatory to avoid catching bears by surprise and also to keep our bear spray ready.  He said that the bears often use the path to transit down to the lagoon to catch fish.  He also reminded us what to do if we encounter a bear…talk to them to let them know we are human, don’t run, and lie flat on the ground if approached aggressively.  

We did not see any bears on the path, but we were welcomed by several black bears at the observatory.  We sat for an hour or so, watching as a mama bear nursed her cubs, several bears went fishing, and other bears were lazily wandering along the rocky hillside.  It was amazing to be so close to the bears, yet seemingly unnoticed by them.  

Watching bears

Momma and her cubs

Fishermen in training

Momma and her cubs

Looking for scraps

So cute!

After we got our fill of bear fun, we wandered back to the dinghy.  And found…..

Fun on the beach

Luckily there was no damage….but we had to wait for about 2 hours for the tide to rise before we could leave!  As I told Dougal, at least it was the dinghy and not the big boat!  

Having fun on the beach waiting for the tide to rise

Look at that starfish collection!!

1 thought on “Anan Bay, AK – Bear Country”

  1. What a great experience seeing the bears in the wild.  Glad you did not encounter some of them on the trail to the observation deck.  Too close for comfort.  I like the photo of Cass with the starfish.  Uff!  The dingy was high and dry!

    Love Mom/Bubu/Karin   

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