Haines Wildlife Viewing
Chilkoot River

photo of Chilkoot River area wildlife The Chilkoot River flows into Lutak Inlet, and is one of the more easily reached bear viewing spots in Southeast Alaska. Salmon spawn in the Chilkoot each year, attracting brown bears between mid-June and October, with July and August the peak months for bear viewing. River otters and harbor seals chase salmon upstream at high tide. Common mergansers, Barrow’s goldeneyes, harlequin ducks and other waterfowl feed at the estuary where the Chilkoot River flows into Lutak Inlet. In the spring and fall, large numbers of shorebirds flock to the estuary mudflats to refuel before continuing their annual migrations. American dippers feed on aquatic invertebrates and small fish throughout the year.


  • American Dipper
  • Common Merganser
  • Harbor Seal
  • Harlequin Duck
  • River Otter


Salmon occasionally pool up in shallow areas of nearby Chilkoot Lake, and you may spot brown bears fishing along the lake as well as the river.


  • Picnic Facilities
  • Wheelchair Accessible


Naturalist-guided tours (ask about wheelchair accessiblity) to the Chilkoot River are available during the summer, some of which combine the river and Lutak Road into one wildlife viewing excursion. There is a maintained campground and parking area at Chilkoot Lake.

Plan to spend at least: 2 hours - full day +

Best Months

█ Best Month

  • Best Month January
  • February
  • March
  • Best Month April
  • Best Month May
  • Best Month June
  • Best Month July
  • Best Month August
  • Best Month September
  • Best Month October
  • November
  • December


The Chilkoot River is North and West of downtown. Follow Lutak Road away from town until it eventually narrows and paralells the river, ending up at Chilkoot Lake.


Haines Convention and Visitor's Bureau - https://www.visithaines.com/

Additional Information

Living with Bears