McNeil River Bear Viewing

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Trip Details


All Blocks Available

Base Price:

$825 Per Person

Plus Taxes and Fuel Surcharge

(see below for breakdown)



Roundtrip Dropoff &Pickup


10 Pax Available Per Block 


Homer - McNeil River - Homer

Adventure Level:

Trip of a Lifetime!

CALL TO BOOK! (907) 435-4011

Are you a McNeil River Permit Winner?

If the answer is YES....Congratulations!   You are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime! 

Access to McNeil River is by permit only distributed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on a lottery basis.  Destination Alaska has provided air transportation to the McNeil River Sanctuary for many years and we can say with confidence that this one of the most amazing exeriences that Alaska offers.  Do not delay....apply before the deadline to win this permit!

The Experience

McNeil River Bear Viewing is known around the world to be an extraordinary experience!  Each Spring, individuals from all over apply for permits to visit the McNeil RIver Sanctuary. Those who are lucky enough to get drawn, rave about the adventures, beautiful scenery, stunning photography opportunities, and of course, living amongst brown bears for a few days! McNeil River holds a special place in the hearts of those who have gone! 

"The largest known gathering of brown bears in the world happens at McNeil River. Visitors get an unparalleled opportunity to watch the bears feeding, fighting, playing, and mating. In early July, as chum salmon return to the river to spawn, a series of cascading rapids and pools slows their migration making them easy prey for hungry bears. As many as 74 bruins have been observed in the area of the falls during the peak of the run in late July. Earlier in the season, red salmon returning to adjacent Mikfik Creek also draw bears, which plunge into the cold water in pursuit of the darting fish. Visitors may also see harbor seals, red fox, and a great diversity of birds, including cormorants, harlequin ducks, bald eagles, glaucous gulls, and songbirds."

-Fish and Game 


2024 Pricing

Round-trip flight: 

  • Base cost $825.00 per person
  • $100 nonrefundable deposit due at the time of booking.  Remainder to be paid on the day of travel.
  • With 3% cc fee, 7.85% fuel surcharge and 7.5% excise tax - $955.82 

(we apologize for the added fuel surcharge but as of 3/22/2024 aviation fuel in Alaska is still averaging $8.03 per gallon)


Permits are purchased separately from Fish and Game.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Are my departure and pick-up times related to the tide and/or weather?
Yes, travel to and from McNeil River Sanctuary is accessed by floatplane only at high tide. This means only ONE flight per day at high tide (which changes from day to day). The flight times are scheduled to coincide with high tide and to maximize viewing times. As a result, it is customary that we fly in for drop off on the high tide the day before your permit starts and come in for pickup on the last day of your viewing permit. There are times when the weather does not allow for travel as scheduled. Given there is only one flight per day, please include an extra day or two in your travel plans for this possibility. Be prepared to wait out the weather for multiple days on both the Homer side and McNeil side.

2. Where do I park my vehicle?
Free parking is available at Northwind Aviation at our Beluga Lake Office for McNeil River customers. Please click on the Google map at the bottom of the page for directions to our dock. 

3. What type of bags should you bring?
The distance needed to carry your gear to camp varies between 200 feet and a 1/4 mile depending on conditions when you arrive. Dry bags and small soft or hardshell coolers are advised. Generally, people end up with 3-4 bags; 1 camera bag, 1-2 bags with camping gear & clothing and 1 bag/cooler with food items. You will need a backpack for viewing days as you will be away from camp most of the day.

4. Are there weight limits?
Yes, there is a 270lb weight limit (this is a combined weight of person and gear)

  • Extra weight can be purchased at $1.50 per lb.  Let us know at booking if you think you'll need extra weight so we can build manifests accordingly

  • Please give accurate weight estimates when asked - over estimate, don't under quote.

5. Preflight and Check-in?

Upon booking, you will be provided with your check-in and departure times. Remember that flights are tide dependent and we have specific times that we go each day. These times are chosen to ensure enough time to weigh you and your gear, park your car, pay in full, etc. We are located at Northwind Aviation: 1184 Lakeshore Drive, Homer, AK  

6. Payment Policy?
We accept credit cards, cash, & checks

A $100 per person deposit will be required at the time of booking. The remaining balance is due at the time of check-in.

7. Should I schedule my airline travel on the same day as my McNeil flight in and out of Homer?

No, it would be best to allow for airline cancellation and/or lost bags. Plan to arrive in Homer the day prior to your departure and please allow an extra day or two in your departure schedule from Homer for possible delays in leaving McNeil due to weather.

*There are multiple airlines that service Anchorage to Homer now

8. Where can I find MORE INFORMATION?
Please refer to the handout you received in the mail or email from Fish and Game for food, water, clothing, and other logistical information. Many of our staff have been to McNeil and are happy to chat via phone should you have further questions.

More Information


Call us today to book your adventure!

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