Wildlife travel: What animals can I see in Alaska?

If you can withstand the cold, this sparsely populated US state is known for its diverse terrain and abundant wildlife. 

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Illustration by Dawn Cooper

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1. Moose, Denali National Park

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Moose in Denali National Park © Lijuan Guo Photography / Getty

The big open spaces of Denali NP don’t always make for easy wildlife viewing, but standing – as they can – up to 2.3m at the shoulder, moose (close cousins of our European elk) are hard to miss.

2. Caribou, Arctic NWR

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A bull caribou in Denali National Park © Daniel A. Leifheit / Getty

With its famous Porcupine caribou herd some 150,000 strong, the Arctic NWR could justifiably bag the label as America’s Serengeti. Perhaps a little chillier, but you won’t see as many 4x4s.

3. Humpback whale, Chatham Strait

USA, Alaska, Hoonah, Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaengliae) breaching in Icy Strait on summer afternoon

A humpback whale breaching in the Icy Strait © Paul Souders / Getty

These are not just any humpback whales – they are bubble-netting humpback whales, and they have been the subject of a unique scientific study stretching back 20 years.

4. Brown bear, Katmai National Park

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A brown bear at Brook Falls in Katmai National Park © Putt Sakdhnagool / Getty

The sight of dozens of brown bears lining up for a salmon supper is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles – Brook Falls in September in Katmai is the place to go.

5. Bald Eagle, Homer

Copyright Josh Miller

Bald eaglies in Alaska © Josh Miller Photography / Getty 

Bald eagles, it has been remarked (in this very magazine), inhabit the small city of Homer in a density akin to the pigeons of Trafalgar Square. This is one raptor you won’t need the spotting scope for.

6. Spectacled eider, Yukon Delta NWR

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A male spectacled eider © Patrick J Endres / Getty

You could go to Yukon Delta to get a glimpse of its millions of waterbirds, but the rarer spectacled eider duck – yes, a relative of our own common eider – would make for an unusual tick.

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