What Are Alaska’s Top Five Wildlife Animals?

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No trip to Alaska is complete without trying to spot some wildlife. The state’s more than 650,000 square miles are home to some incredible animals.

There are plenty of places to search between the frozen tundras, coastal waters, and dense forests. However, spotting them takes patience.

Today, we’re taking you on a trip to The Last Frontier to spot some of the best wildlife in Alaska.

Grab your parka, and let’s get started!

About Alaska

Alaska sits in the northwestern corner of North America and is the largest state in the United States (sorry, Texas). It has a reputation for being one of the most remote and isolated places in the world. However, indigenous people have inhabited these frozen lands for thousands of years.

The United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. However, it became a beacon of hope after Joe Juneau discovered gold throughout the state in 1880. Miners flocked to the Yukon region in search of gold. Some struck it rich, and others weren’t nearly as lucky.

It wasn’t until 1959 that Alaska was upgraded from a territory to the 49th state. Alaska is known for its stunning landscapes, abundant resources, and unique culture. Adventurers, researchers, and tourists flock to the state to learn about its history and explore this fascinating state.

Rae and Jason in front of the Welcome to Alaska sign and the truck camper in the background.

What Is the Biggest Predator in Alaska?

Alaska is a challenging and rugged state. It comes as no surprise that it has some fierce wildlife. However, the biggest predator in the state is the Kodiak bear. This massive furry creature is a subspecies of brown bears. They’re native to the Kodiak Archipelago in southern Alaska.

They’re most known for their massive size. They’re one of the largest land carnivores in the world. The largest males can stand over 10′ tall on their hind legs and weigh 1,500 pounds. However, while females are slightly smaller and lighter, you still want to avoid messing with them.

Their diet typically includes fish, berries, grasses, and other plants. Due to the large number of salmon throughout the state, it’s become one of their favorite snacks. You can frequently find them near water sources, especially during salmon runs when they practically enjoy an endless buffet of salmon.

Do Polar Bears Live in Alaska?

Polar bears thrive in icy, cold environments, making parts of Alaska the perfect home. However, they’re more common throughout Canada and the northern portions of Greenland.

In Alaska, you’ll most likely find polar bears in the north and western regions of the state. They tend to live along the northern coast.

If you visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or the Chukchi Sea Region, you can spot them. Encounters with polar bears in Alaska are infrequent.

However, a polar bear attacked and killed a young mother and her infant in early 2023 in Wales, Alaska. So, while they are very rare, they can and do occur.

Top Five Alaska Wildlife Animals

Spotting wildlife in Alaska can be an unforgettable experience. Let’s look at the top five animals we think should be on your must-see list while exploring The Last Frontier.

Grizzly Bear

When it comes to must-see wildlife in Alaska, grizzly bears are at the top of the list. These massive creatures are fierce and incredibly dangerous.

Males can weigh 660 to 2,200 pounds, with females slightly smaller. However, their age, diet, and overall health significantly affect their size.

They can adapt to the environment, which means you can find them throughout the state. Some of the most popular spots to see them include Katmai National Park and Preserve, Denali National Park and Preserve, and the Kenai Peninsula.

If you encounter a grizzly bear during your adventures, how you respond is critical. You must stay calm and assess the situation. From there, you want to make yourself known but not appear to be a threat.

Avoid making eye contact and slowly back away from the scene. If the bear charges at you, discharge your bear spray slightly ahead of it so that it runs into the cloud.

Should the bear attack you, it’s typically best to play dead. Cover your head and neck as best as possible and roll into a ball to protect your vital organs. However, if the bear doesn’t stop, you must fight for your life. Use whatever tools or objects that are available to stop the attack.

Pro Tip: If you’re heading to Alaska, it’s important to know What Does Being ‘Bear Aware’ Mean?

A bear walking in the distance with his head turned looking at the camera. This is the most popular Alaska wildlife animal to spot.


Another famous wildlife that people want to see in Alaska is a moose. These creatures can stand almost 7′ tall and weigh 1,800 to 3,300 pounds. Despite being herbivores, moose can still pose a danger to humans.

They’ll typically do all they can to avoid humans, but they will defend themselves if they feel you are a threat. Attacks are most common in September and October as mothers will be overly protective of their young.

You’ll likely encounter moose in forests, marshes, and wetland areas. They also tend to gather in the boreal forests. Visit Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, and Denali National Park and Preserve for the best chance at spotting a moose. However, since they outnumber bears three to one in Alaska, there’s a good chance you’ll see them just about anywhere.

A moose walking through a field, one of the more popular Alaska wildlife animals to spot.

Bald Eagle

The bald eagle has been a symbol for our country since 1782. This is your chance if you’ve never spotted one of these birds with its white head and tail. Alaska is home to one of the largest populations of bald eagles in North America.

These powerful and impressive birds use their massive talons to pluck fish from the waters. You can frequently spot them along rivers and streams, especially during salmon runs. If you spend time near bodies of water, you’ll likely eventually see one soaring through the sky.

They’re one of the largest birds in all of North America. Their wingspan can range from 6′ to 7.5′, weighing between 6.5 and 13.5 pounds. Unlike many other creatures, female bald eagles tend to be larger than males.

A bald eagle sitting on a branch


A salmon run is one of the most remarkable sights to see in Alaska. You’ll find five different species of salmon throughout the state. These impressive fish are the definition of resilience and determination. They are born in freshwater, migrate out to the ocean to mature, and the males return home to spawn before dying.

Salmon play an incredible role in the state’s ecosystem and economy. Bears, eagles, wolves, otters, and humans rely on salmon for sustenance. This is one of the reasons why streams and bodies of water are fantastic locations to spot wildlife. Many come searching for salmon for their next meal.

Depending on the species, they can range from 3 to 50 pounds or more. Anglers from all over the world converge on Alaskan waters each season to catch them. Hooking into one of these fish can be an incredible adventure. They can put up a fight.

Pro Tip: Be sure to read What Are the Five Types of Salmon in Alaska? if you plan on doing any fishing during your trip!

Salmon swimming upstream, one of the popular Alaska wildlife


Caribou are the final wildlife on our top five list of wildlife to see in Alaska. These iconic creatures are plentiful throughout the state. You’ll find them in tundras, alpine regions, and boreal forests. They can adapt to the cold, and their large hooves make navigating the terrain easy and finding food.

Males are larger than females and can weigh 250 to 770 pounds. Most people recognize these animals by their antlers. Unlike many other species, both male and female caribou have antlers.

The size and shape of their antlers depend on their age, sex, and genetics. However, males typically have larger antlers than females.

The best spots throughout the state to see caribou are the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Denali National Park and Preserve, the Kenai Peninsula, and Kodiak Island.

Caribou on a foggy day in Alaska

What Wildlife Will You See in Alaska?

Whether you want to photograph or witness them in their natural habitat, wildlife in Alaska can put on a show. These creatures have played a unique role in the culture and history of the state.

For your safety and to respect the animals and the culture, keep your distance. Like the environment, these animals are rough and tough.

So keep your eyes out and let us know what you see!

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