The Most Grizzly-Infested Island On Earth Happens To Be In America. Visit It If You Dare

For many outdoor adventurers, a big part of the thrill of heading into nature is the potential to encounter some incredible wildlife along the way. Grizzly bears are a species that many wildlife enthusiasts long to say they've set their eyes on, with good reason. The grizzly bear's size is just one of its many impressive traits, with males surpassing 700 pounds in some instances.

While grizzly bears once roamed much of the Western U.S., populations were decimated over time due to hunting and habitat loss. Dedicated conservation efforts that began back in 1975 have helped bring those population numbers back up slowly. Today, an estimated 55,000 grizzly bears are calling the U.S. home across 5 states.

One particular place on the map where grizzly bears not only survive but also thrive in abundance is Admiralty Island. This incredible destination in Alaska is a former fur trading post in the Southeastern part of the state that hosts about 1,600 bears. Numbers like these easily make Admiralty Island a top destination for bear viewing in North America. It's also the place to go when you're looking to experience the highest density of brown bears anywhere on the planet.

A wildlife destination rich in resources

Situated South of Juneau, Admiralty Island is part of the greater Alexander Archipelago, which also includes Baranof Island and Chichagof Island. Together, these destinations are often referred to as "ABC Island." While all three are home to robust populations of grizzly bears, the approximately one bear per square mile average on Admiralty Island is hard to top.

Admiralty Island's total area covers about 1,664 square miles. It would be easy to assume such a setting would pit grizzly bears against one another while competing for food and resources, but this simply isn't the case. That's because much of the terrain is adorned with old-growth temperate rainforests, which are rich ecosystems for wildlife of many kinds. Sitka deer and waters teeming with five species of salmon are found across Admiralty Island, providing the grizzly bear population with more than enough sustenance to thrive. It ultimately means they have few reasons to challenge one another for territory.

In addition to the impressive grizzly bear population here, Admiralty Island is home to over 5,000 eagles, with many setting up nests along the Seymour Canal. The island also hosts several bays where sea lions, harbor seals, and porpoise populations thrive. Out in open waters surrounding Admiralty Island, visitors can observe humpback whales feeding throughout the year.

The best options for planning a visit

There are many reasons to visit Alaska, but if your trip takes you to Admiralty Island, the safest way to view bears is as part of a guided tour. The Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area is one of the top destinations on the island to observe grizzly bears year-round. Go Alaska Tours offers day trips flying participants into Pack Creek from Juneau, where you can spend time hiking, kayaking, and photographing wildlife alongside a ranger. 

If you're looking to make an extended Admiralty Island stay for enhanced grizzly bear viewing opportunities, 13 local Forest Service cabins are available for rent. These cabins are located across Admiralty Island, giving guests options to pick and choose from locations to settle in around inland lakes. Many cabins are accessible from the Cross-Admiralty Canoe Route, which spans 32 miles and links local lakes and portages alike.

Whether you make it a day trip to Admiralty Island or you plan on enjoying an extended stay, the most efficient route to reaching the island is by chartered float plane or boat from Juneau. Ward Air is a top float plane charter service based in Juneau to consider booking during your visit. There are also options to travel the Alaska Marine Highway to Angoon, where you can sail into Admiralty Island. Either way, be sure to come prepared with a camera for this unique wildlife viewing experience you won't soon forget.