A couple of years back my brother and I, more or less on a whim, decided to spend a few days visiting Stewart on the BC / Alaska border to see what the bear viewing was like at Fish Creek. We didn’t have much idea what to expect, but it turned out to be way more interesting than we could have imagined! Thus began a mild obsession with bears, which last year saw us visit Pack Creek near Juneau, and this year saw us snag lottery permits for Anan Creek on 9th August.
The best way to visit Anan Creek, IMO, is to stay at the Forest Service cabin at the site. The web booking is first come, first served, and you need good luck as it’s understandably popular. We failed, and instead visited on a day trip from Wrangell. We flew with Sunrise Aviation – the only air charter option in Wrangell (though boat trips are also possible) – who were great. I still find the whole idea of hiring a float plane to get places rather cool!
Once at the creek, the bear viewing was first rate. It’s mostly black bears (though we saw a couple of browns), and apart from one lull around mid-day of maybe an hour there were bears out fishing throughout the time we were at the site. The far side of the creek opposite the viewing area is a jumble of mossy rocks and caves, and it’s pretty easy to get the standard Anan shots of bears peering out of dark crevices and fishing below the waterfall. The cub peering out of the cave above was my favorite shot. Lens-wise, 300mm on full frame works pretty well. I had a 1.4 teleconverter but didn’t use it at all; my brother used a 2x for a few shots but also mostly shot with a bare 300mm. You can sign up for half hour stints in a hide down at the water level, and there 200mm is plenty.
Overall it was a great day of bear viewing, and of the places I’ve been to the easiest to take good standard pics of bears fishing. I’m not sure what sort of unique images you could hope for there, though I guess with enough time you might get lucky and catch some interesting interactions between bears. Compared to Pack Creek, the photography was easier at Anan but it didn’t feel quite as wild and remote a setting – at Anan Creek there are a lot of visitors coming and going on brief commercial tours that you don’t get at Pack Creek.
If you’re interested in visiting, here’s the link to the Anan Creek info from the Forest Service.