The community of Hoonah, with a year round population of approximately 800, is located in the northern part of Chichagof Island. Hoonah is also home to one of Southeast Alaska's hidden gems, Icy Strait Brewing!
The vast majority of Chichagof island is pure, uninhabited, Alaskan wilderness teeming with wildlife! The Brown Bear is the king of the forest but Sitka black-tail deer, bald eagle, mink, marten, beaver, duck and sea birds thrive on the island and are frequently spotted on this tour. One of the last grizzly strongholds, the dense rain forests of Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska hide more brown bear per square mile than any other place on Earth.
This 4+ Hour High Top Van based tour is limited to the months between May and September because those months offer the highest probability of seeing bears. Your local guide will pick you up at Icy Strait Point, drive you through the City of Hoonah while pointing out what makes Hoonah unique. Then it is off into the Tongass National Forest in search of wildlife!
After approximately 2.5hrs in the forest, it's back to Hoonah where you will be dropped off at Icy Strait Brewing. Using crystal clear water from the mountain streams of Chichagof Island, Icy Strait Brewing crafts several styles of beer on site. Guests 21 and older will receive a token good for a flight of 3 (A Light, a Medium and a Dark) beers, and sampling of fresh popcorn seasoned with a locally sourced Kelp Blend seasoning.
You can spend as much time as you like at the brewing company as we have a shuttle that makes frequent stops at the brewery on the way back to the port.
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.
Duration: 4 hours (Roundtrip from Icy Strait Point Adventure Center - Excursion Hub)
- Roundtrip transportation from Icy Strait Point Adventure Center - Excursion Hub
- Token for flight of 3 beer sampling from Icy Strait Brewing
- Bottled water
- Local tour guide
- Photo ID is required for 21 years and older for beer sampling
- Minimum age: 5 years old
- Although tour is primarily van based, short walks in the forest are sometimes requried so guest should be able to negotiate uneven terrain
Duration: 4+ hours. Tour times below are approximate:
- 15 minutes transport from port to forest
- 2.5 hours on wildlife and bear search
- 15 minutes to Icy Strait Brewing
- 45+ minutes at Brewery - you can leave at your leisure. We have a shuttle that makes frequent stops from the brewery to the port
- 15 minutes transport back to port
- This tour meets at the Excursions 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.
Not seeing answers to your questions?
Check out other frequently asked questions here!
Aug 2019 - David V.
Super, very nice excursion, but no bears....:)
Aug 2019 - Gregory W J.
I booked this trip for two friends, my wife and myself. I spent considerable time researching trips and chose this one. I am glad I did. Our guide was Stu Mills. Stu is the leader of the Tlinglet Tribe in the Hoonah area. We were both privileged and lucky to have such an excellent guide. Stu shared, early on that we may not see bears but that he was not the kind of person that drove fast to the spots to try to see them. He explained that we would take our time. We did. Stu also shared that he would talk about the area, the Tlinget Tribe and the history. He did. And it was all quite excellent. Then we started to see bears. A large, young male, several yards away running through the lake. Then a mother with two cubs. Another male. Then another mother with three cubs. In all, we saw nine bears. The record with Stu was 16. We also saw a number of bald eagles. I learned so much and felt honored to be a part of Stu's tour.
On our way back, the other driver of the second tour van radio'd Stu to ask how things had gone with us. I overheard that they had seen no bears. Clearly, we were with the master. This was an amazing trip for all of us. Perhaps, one of the best tours I have ever taken while on a vacation. Thank you to Stu Mills. for a lifetime memory.
Jul 2019 - Maureen B.
Compared to other tours we took, this one was average. The guide had a lot of great information to share. The trip itself is about 45 mins to a turnaround point (beautiful lake) and then 45 mins back. There was a mix up with the brewery part (the local rep took care of this for us immediately). I would suggest, if possible, adding other stops along the way - its hard to sit in a van for that long without a break! We did see a bear, which isn't always a guarantee!
Jun 2019 - Daniel H.
Excursion was fantastic better than any our cruise ship offered.
Jun 2019 - Myrina Meleah A R.
Awesome!! Saw 3 bears and guide was funny and intresting!
May 2019 - Stacy L.
Gary was a fabulous tour guide! A must-do excursion!