What Kind of Wildlife Will I See in Ketchikan?

A flock of seagulls are swimming in a body of water

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First of all, there is absolutely no guarantee you will see any wildlife…because, well…they are wild.  With that being said, Ketchikan is located in Tongass National Forest and inhabits a very small fraction of a very large island, surround by many Islands. Essentially, it is located right in the middle of the wilderness, making chances of an encounter with nature very good. 

We have a variety of wildlife on our Island including Sitka Black Tail Deer, Black Bear, Mountain Goats and Grey Wolf, however it is more rare to see these animals. We do have all 5 species of pacific salmon, and when they are running you will see them jumping out of the water and swimming up stream to spawn and die. This life cycle sustains our ecosystem.

During peak salmon season there is an abundance of wildlife. You will likely see bald eagles fishing for salmon, sea otters, harbor seals or sea lions sunning themselves on the warm rocks and if you are lucky, a black bear fishing in the creek.

American Bald Eagles are abundant in Ketchikan, so you have a very good chance of seeing them. The Bald Eagle is our majestic National Bird.  While the adults have a white head, the juvenile eagles do not. They have incredible eyesight and are amazing hunters. You usually see them swooping down to snatch dinner from the ocean. It’s really a sight to see. You cannot appreciate the actual size of these beauties until you see them up close.

If bears are your thing, you can book a land tour to visit the inlet near a local fish hatchery and see if the bears are out.  Your best opportunity to see Bears in their natural habitat, would be to book a combo Flightseeing & Bear Viewing tour that will fly you out to a remote area. In these special areas, the U.S. Forest Service issues a limited number of permits in order to leave the smallest footprint on the environment, while still allowing guests to fully experience the serenity of wilderness.   Because of the limited amount of permits issued, you will want to reserve your seat as soon as possible so you don’t miss out.

While you may see whales breaching in the channel, your best opportunity to see them will definitely be out on the water.   Book a kayaking, sailing adventure or an excursion in a Zodiac to take a seafaring view of the wildlife.

We value our environment, our way of life, and our wildlife. Please do not feed the wild animals and be sure to pack out any garbage you pack in. Help keep our wilderness pristine!

Enjoy your visit to our rainforest! We are keeping it Wild at Ketchikan Expeditions.

We Live It. You’ll Love It. Your Adventure Awaits.