When bears outnumber residents almost 4 to 1, you can understand why Angoon is known as “Kootznoowoo,” or the Fortress of the Bears. Located on the west side of Admiralty Island, the 450 residents are largely outnumbered by the almost 1,700 brown bears that call the island home.
The forested area and ample water sources are draws for the brown bears that look to feed on spawning salmon. Pack Creek is the best area to see the bears, home to the Stan Price State Wildlife Sanctuary that has a sandspit and observation tower for easy bear-spotting.
A jet charter airport in Angoon allows for easy access to the Tlingit community. A half-hour plane ride from Juneau transports visitors to the densely forested, and surprisingly sunny island.
Bears aren’t the only wildlife to keep an eye out for. Rent a canoe or charter a boat to get out on the water to fish for the large salmon that course through the water. Keep an eye out for porpoises, sea lions and even orca (if you’re lucky!). Bring your raincoat in case a humpback whale makes an appearance while you’re on the water; they certainly make a sizable splash!
Learn about the area’s indigenous history and walk down Beavertail Road to visit the 16 tribal community houses, all made of wood, and weathered from the salt air. Totems in the area represent the Raven and Wolf/Eagle clans of the Tlingit people.