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. 


Illustration by Dawn Cooper


1. Moose, Denali National Park

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

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

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

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

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

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.