Deadline approaches for McNeil bear viewing

Brown bear splashing in a stream.

Brown bear splashing in a stream. Credit: Steve Hillebrand

The state Department of Fish and Game says Alaskans and nonresidents have about six weeks to apply for permits to view brown bears at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary.

The deadline for applications is March 1. Permit holders are picked by lottery.

McNeil River is about 100 miles west of Homer.

The sanctuary hosts the world’s largest known gathering of brown bears. Migrating salmon attract the bears.

Applicants choose their first and second choices for a four-day block of time between June 7 and Aug. 25.

The department grants 185 individual permits, plus camp standby permits, allowing visitors to stay in the sanctuary campground and fill vacancies in the guided access program.

Applications require a nonrefundable $25 per person fee.

Application forms




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