Chichagof Island, also known as Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At 75 miles long and 50 miles wide, it is the fifth largest island in the United States. The vast majority of the island is pure, uninhabited, Alaskan wilderness teeming with the wildlife. The community of Hoonah, with a year round population of approximately 800, is located in the northern part of Chichagof Island. Hoonah is surrounded by the sea life rich waters of Port Frederick and Icy Strait. The Hoonah Beach House, a locally owned Sea to Table restaurant, takes full advantage of the waters riches, in their daily preparations of Salmon or Dungeness Crab depending on what is in season. Always fresh, never frozen!
Frequently spotted on this tour is the Ursus Arctos, or Brown Bear, who rule the forest; but Sitka black tailed deer, bald eagles, mink, marten, beaver, duck and sea birds also thrive on the island. One of the last grizzly strongholds, the dense rainforests of Chichagof Island in Southeast Alaska house more brown bear per square mile than any other place on Earth.
The highest probability of seeing bears is during the season between May and September. The wildlife are likely to be found in different locations throughout the island, depending on the month and weather. Your guide spends ample time in the forest and knows where to look for wildlife so that you can enjoy this tour to the full extent.
Depending on the month and the weather, the wildlife can be found in different locations throughout the island. In late April and May the bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for food. In June, the bears are mating and eating grasses on the tidal flats. In July, the salmon start their migration from the ocean up the rivers and we find the bears feeding in coastal rivers and streams. In August and September, the salmon have made it further up the rivers to shallow streams where the bears chase them.
After approximately 2.5hrs in the forest, it's back to Hoonah and the Hoonah Beach House situated directly over the water. All guests will will receive a token good for a meal of Salmon or Dungeness Crab, depending on what is in season as well as a side and a drink.
Spend as much time as you like at the Hoonah Beach House! We have a van that will periodically stop by to see who is ready to head back to the ship!
Please note: While there is a high probability of seeing bears, we cannot guarantee sighting. We can guarantee a journey into wilderness and a chance to experience the sheer beauty and ruggedness of the Tongass National Forest!
Tour is primarily vehicle based. Guests should dress in layers when visiting Alaska. If it is safe to do so, your guide will allow you to get out and take pictures of the wildlife. Guests do not have to get out of the vehicle if they do not want to and very little walking is involved.
This tour is limited to groups of 12 unless the entire group is traveling together. Then we will allow a max of 14.
Duration: 3 hours (Roundtrip from excursions hub.)
- Roundtrip transportation to and from the Icy Strait Excursions Hub
- Token for a meal of Dungeness Crab or Salmon (depending on availability), a side, and a drink
- Bottled water
Duration: 3 hours. Tour times below are approximate:
- 15 minutes from Icy Strait Point Excursion Hub to the forest
- 2.5 hrs Wildlife and Bear search
- 15 minutes approx drive to Hoonah Beach House restaurant
- 45 minutes at Hoonah Beach House
- 15 minutes transport back to Icy Strait Point
- This tour meets at the Icy Strait Point Adventure Center - Excursion Hub. Fully detailed instructions are included on your finalized ticket vouchers.
ADA Accessibility of Tour:
- This tour is not wheelchair or limited mobility accessible. There is no storage available for wheelchairs or walkers.
Are there restrooms in the forest?
No, there are no facilities in the forest. There is a restroom at the brewery.
Is there a lot of hiking involved?
Although this is primarily a van based tour, depending on where the bears are located, your guide may get guest out of the van on bridges over streams. Your guide may also take you on a short walk through the woods. Guest should be able to negotiate uneven terrain.
How will I get back to the port from the brewery?
Your guide will drop you off at the brewery where you can spend as much time as you like. We have a shuttle that makes frequent stops at the brewery on the way back to the port.
What should I wear?
Layers are always a good idea when visiting Alaska.
Where does this tour meet?
This tour meets at the Icy Strait excursions hub, which is a short walk away from your cruise ship. Detailed meeting instructions will be included on your ticket voucher.
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