And why you should go see them now!
Wildlife is one of the top reasons tourists visit Alaska, and rightfully so. In our northernmost state you can see species that are not only gigantic, but also very rare. Due to the vastly untouched and arctic climate, animals are in abundance thriving daily on the fruitful landscape. But isn’t spring and summer the best time to see the animals?
Well…yes and no!
While animals are coming out of hibernation and enjoying the sunshine in the warmer months, there are also some negatives that come along with those seasons. All kinds of bugs, particularly mosquitos, are also re-emerging as are the swarms of tourists.
Autumn is a largely overlooked season for observing wildlife, but it’s actually one of our favorites. The air is crisp and cool, without being frigid. And what do all the animals need to do before the winter comes barreling through? That’s right, EAT! Fall in Alaska is just crawling with animals looking to fatten up before a long hibernation or vast scarcity of food. And if you visit up north this time of year, you’ll get a front row seat for all the action.
What gigantic animals can you expect to see?
1. Grizzly Bears – A full grown grizzly can stand up to 8 feet and weigh as much as 800 pounds. For being such monstrous creatures, the actually have quite a gentle diet. Approximately 75% of their food consist of leaves, nuts, and berries, while also indulging in a traditional bear favorite, which is fish. They can run up to 30 mph and can be very protective of their young. If you happen to spot a mama bear with her cubs, stay far away.
2. Alaskan Moose – The largest moose in the world, these beauties can weigh 1,600 pounds. A male’s hoof to shoulder height is approximately 7 feet. While those huge antlers look dauting they’re hardly used for self-defense, however they will charge you if they feel threatened so approaching a moose can be extremely dangerous. And these herbivores eat A LOT! An average moose can consume over 70 pounds of food every day.
3. Bald Eagles – These majestic creatures are protected under the Bald Eagle Act of 1940 which makes it illegal to possess one dead or alive…not even their feathers! This sea bird dines solely on fish which it snatches directly out of the water. A large adult’s wingspan can reach 7.5 feet and they live up to 20 years.
4. Humpback Whales – At 40 tons and 60 feet long, these monsters of the deep are mysterious and captivating. They’re difficult to spot with a sighting happening during only 25% of whale watching expeditions. Breaching is when they propel themselves out of the water and land back down with a massive splash. The reason why they do this is somewhat unknown.
5. Caribou – How can you visit up north and not yearn to see some Caribou? Or Reindeer as they’re most commonly known. When they’re not hauling Santa’s sleigh, they can be seen wandering around the tundra, chewing their cud. Males can weigh 400 pounds and run as fast as 50 mph.
These fantastic five are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Alaskan wildlife, they just happen to be some of the largest. Wandering around in all their glory, these creatures are filling up on fall’s feast right now! You don’t have to wait until spring to experience nature’s greatest wonders in Alaska.