10 Days In Valdez, Alaska, Part 3: We Found A Grizzly!

Grizzly Bear in Valdez, Alaska

Our Alaska bucket list was pretty simple. It went something like this:

  • Kayak below a glacier
  • Go to the Arctic circle
  • See a grizzly
  • Don’t get eaten by a grizzly

Well, wouldn’t ya’ know, Valdez is where 3 of those 4 things happened!

Fortunately the one thing that didn’t happen at Valdez was, “Go to the Arctic Circle,” not, “Don’t get eaten by a grizzly.”

We saw it. It ate salmon. It didn’t eat us. We were happy.

Now, if you saw the image at the top of this post, you’re probably wondering how we got so close to it. Fortunately, it wasn’t a dangerous scenario. There is a salmon hatchery just outside of Valdez. During spawning season all of the salmon return to go upstream. They call it traveling, the local bear population calls it dinner.

Grizzly Bear Carrying Salmon out of Ocean in Valdez, Alaska

We were able to be close to it safely for two reasons. And no, one of them was not, “We just had to run faster than the slowest person.” Although that was kind of true, because lots of people were watching it with us.

The real reason was that it was completely focused on the salmon. Like, really focused. Imagine looking into your lover’s eyes on your wedding day. Or at your child as it is born. That kind of focus. That kind of love. Except for raw fish.

That meant the bear wasn’t going to charge unless it felt threatened. And, since it didn’t feel threatened, we were safe from it on the side of the road. There was a natural barrier formed by the landscape.

Also, animal control came by and was watching it with us. They gave everyone instructions on what to do if the bear decided to cross the road. (Give it 100 feet on either side, spread out slowly, move to the side instead of approaching or backing away.)

Now that you are (hopefully) satisfied that we were being safe, responsible adults, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Seeing a grizzly up close and kayaking at the bottom of a glacier were highlights of our trip to Alaska. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the wonderful museums that Valdez has to offer. Valdez was one of the first areas to be settled by non-natives. It is the only port in Alaska that is ice free year round. Because of that, it served in the past as a port for gold speculators during the Alaskan gold rush. Today it still serves as the port for oil shipments

The Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum has one of the largest collections of Native Alaskan artifacts and art in the world. It is truly a must see.

Not to be out done, the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive is a terrific museum in its own right. It’s information on early bush pilots and the Valdez oil spill is truly incredible. Please don’t leave Alaska without seeing these two museums!

After seeing the museums we were ready to leave. But, in true Alaska fashion, it decided to throw some more beauty at us. We entered the museums on a rainy, overcast day, and exited to some gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.

Valdez was a highlight of our Alaska summer. We hope you make it one of yours as well!

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