Tourist season in Alaska.
There have been few visitors for the last couple of years given the COVID protocols. They seem to be back in business this summer, full of curiosity and questions about our condition. We, the residents, are sometimes asked questions that are difficult to answer.
Below are some of the answers you may need.
Where can you see a brown bear?
Kodiak is a good place. Kodiak is home to 12% of Alaska’s brown bear population. There is a bear for every 3/4 square mile. The Alaska Peninsula is another safe place for big bears. There are fewer bears per square mile, but bears roam every town or village. Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park and Preserve is a must-see spot for bear interactions. But the round trip will cost a thousand bucks if you eat pilot’s bread and peanut butter and curl up to sleep under the willow.
[3 men get fines, prison and park ban for wading into Alaska’s Brooks River while viewing famous bears]
In the Denali National Park and Preserve, there are grizzlies along the park road. They are the usual sights from the bus. The bus ride is worth it.
Visitors imagine Alaska teeming with game. They are frustrated that they don’t see the moose around every corner. Caribou should pose picturesquely on every hill. The reality is quite different.
In Alaska, there is no food for keeping a large number of large ungulates. Georgia, which is about a tenth of the area of Alaska, shoots nearly 300,000 deer every hunting season. This is almost double the population of moose in Alaska.
Texas hunters hunt nearly as many deer each year as our entire caribou population—750,000. Denali Park or Denali Highway are the best places to spot caribou. The city of Anchorage is the best place to see moose.
We have fish. Sport fishing is better in almost every state in the US than in Alaska when it comes to lake casting. The goal is we have salmon. Salmon is a real fish, not at all like the small fish that the southern states can offer.
It’s hard to find a place to catch kings these days. There are many places where you can catch carnation, silver and sockeye salmon. Sockeye salmon put other fish to shame, both fighting and gustatory. After eating sockeye salmon, even the people of Wisconsin will shake it off the hook.
Once tourists have their animal questions answered, they will want to learn about mountains. The height of Denali is 20,310 feet. Mount Sanford, prominent along the road system near the town of Glennallen, has a population of just over 16,000. The reason the mountains in Alaska look so big is because they rise almost above sea level. The highest passes in Alaska are Atigun Pass on the Access Road and McLaren Summit on the Denali Highway. They are just over 4,000 feet. People think the Tetons are tall, but in Wyoming you can drive your car two-thirds of the way up the mountain and still light a fire in the trees.
With tourists, the conversation always turns to bears.
Is it safe to walk in the forest?
– And the bears?