Most people travel to Alaska to see brown and polar bears, so a place where black bears are the centre of attention is unusual. But this is the case at the Anan Wildlife Observatory in Tongass National Forest.
In July and August black bears gather at a waterfall just below a viewing platform to feed on spawning pink salmon. For the best experience, stay overnight at the Anan Bay Cabin.
Yellowstone National Park is the only place where you can easily see black bears amid other charismatic wildlife such as bison, elk, moose, grizzlies and wolves. But this is a huge park, so it helps to hire a wildlife expert as your guide.
The deciduous forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are among the best places to spot black bears in the eastern USA.
Though the park has a high density of bears, they can be skittish and difficult to watch – except along Cades Cove Loop Road, an old homestead area with relict orchards, fruit trees and open meadows, which attracts lots of bears between April and October.
Alligator River was established on the North Carolina seashore to protect a remnant of the unique wetland habitat called ‘pocosin’, but it is also one of the last remaining strongholds for black bears on the Eastern Seaboard.
In the Milltail section of the refuge, black bears wander out from swampy thickets to feed in nearby fields, and in summer you can join a ‘sunset tour’ that includes an opportunity to see bears at night. Alternatively, drive the Milltail Road on your own.