Chichagof Island Birding & Nature Adventure

★★★★★
★★★★★

Trip Highlights

  • Nesting Pigeon Guillemots

  • Nesting Bald Eagles

  • Salmon spawning in the rivers

  • Frequent Brown Bear sightings

  • A ½-mile walk through varied habitat, including some old growth spruce and hemlock

Description

In the lush vegetation of Chichagof Island, near Hoonah, Alaska, where Brown Bears outnumber humans, birding is an adventure! Your expert bird guide is also a naturalist, and you will learn about the natural and human history of the area, the plants, animals, fish, forests, and rivers. Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Varied Thrushes, Steller’s Jays, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Red-breasted Sapsuckers are some of the favorites, but this is so much more than just another birding tour. Come experience the vibrant ecological web created here, in Hoonah, Alaska, near Icy Strait Point where the towering temperate forests of Chichagof Island tangle with the rich marine life of Icy Strait.

Tour info

Duration
3 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
2 to 10
Price starts at
150 USD
Meeting Point

Icy Strait Point Excursions Hub

Why take this tour?

Do you feel like you haven’t truly experienced a place until you get to know the birds, plants, and animals? If so, we think you will love this excursion. At Icy Strait Birding Tours we love sharing our wild little corner of paradise, in Hoonah Alaska near Icy Strait Point with visitors from all over the world. 

This land-based tour begins with a shuttle pick-up at the Icy Strait Point Excursion Hub, where you will be given a ride into the town of Hoonah (1.5 miles from Icy Strait Point), to meet your guide and transfer to the 15-passenger tour van. We will begin by making a few stops around town, including at a Bald Eagle nest and a small Pigeon Guillemot rookery. While at the rookery, we will use our high-powered spotting scope to scan the waters of Port Frederick for other seabirds, ducks, seals, or sea lions. Often Humpback Whales can be seen feeding right offshore! Next we will leave town, driving about 10 miles into the wilderness on gravel roads. Enroute to a walking trail, we will make a few stops at a scenic estuary, salmon streams, and anywhere that we encounter wildlife or birds of interest. Brown Bears, Sitka Black-tailed Deer, and American Mink are some of the most common mammals we encounter. The walking trail is where we see most of the tour’s smaller birds, such as sparrows, warblers, chickadees, swifts, wrens, flycatchers, kinglets, jays, and woodpeckers. We walk at a “birder’s pace” through a mixture of wooded habitats including some towering old growth Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock! Your guide will identify plants along the way and explain their traditional uses.

The trail winds down a 100ft hill before opening into a beautiful coastal uplift meadow, where we pause to enjoy the view and check for grassland birds before heading back to the van. 

This is a perfect tour for birders, nature nerds and the insatiably curious. We know you will leave with a greater appreciation for Alaska’s rainforest ecosystem, but we hope you also will be inspired to learn more about the nature in your own backyard when you get home! 

This tour is located in the Tongass National Forest, under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.

Included

  • Field guide booklet to 50 bird species and other wildlife commonly seen on our tours. (Yours to keep, and a handy way to keep track of your sightings!)

  • Binoculars

  • Spotting scope

  • A few trekking poles

  • Pick Up at Icy Strait Point Excursion Hub

  • All guests get a "Return to Ship Anytime Shuttle Pass" so you can Explore Hoonah!

  • Local Naturalist Guide

  • Back to Ship On-Time Guaranteed

Excluded

  • 6.5% City sales tax

  • Drinks & Snacks - We encourage guest to bring a full reusable water bottle.

  • Gratuity - Never Expected - Always Appreciated if we did a good job!

  • $6.59 U.S. Forest Service National Park Fee

Frequently asked questions

No! While most of our guests have a particular affinity for birds, this tour is for any lovers of nature. And if you’re not a nature lover when we start, you just might be by the end!
No, you don’t! We have enough for everyone on the tour to use. If you have a “nice” pair of binoculars, you probably wouldn’t be seen without them anyway, and of course you should use them. If you are using complimentary cruise ship binoculars (only certain cruise lines do this), or if your pair cost less than $100, you will probably be amazed at how much more beautiful the view is through ours!
We do have a quality 20-60 x 80mm scope on our birding tours for viewing distant birds, bears, etc., and for taking digiscoped photos and videos of them for you to keep. If you’re so die-hard that you plan to pack your scope in your luggage to pick out distant albatrosses and shearwaters on your days-at-sea, please bring it! A second scope in the group helps more people get on the subject faster.
During the breeding season, puffins are only found close to their breeding colonies (rookeries), and unfortunately it is very unlikely that we would spot one along our tour route. We do visit a Pigeon Guillemot rookery though, and they are in the same family! Both Horned and Tufted Puffins (and many puffin-relatives) breed in Southeast Alaska, and we are happy to offer advice on where you might find them along your cruise route.

Things to know

Mobility Issues

Guests must be able to climb in and out of a van several times throughout the tour & this tour includes a ½-mile walk on an uneven gravel path with some hills.

Guests must be able to climb in and out of a van several times throughout the tour & this tour includes a ½-mile walk on an uneven gravel path with some hills.

What to pack

We highly recommend bringing a rain jacket and waterproof footwear on your cruise and using them if the forecast for the day of your tour shows rain. If it has been raining a lot in the days before the tour, the trail will have some puddles.

We highly recommend bringing a rain jacket and waterproof footwear on your cruise and using them if the forecast for the day of your tour shows rain. If it has been raining a lot in the days before the tour, the trail will have some puddles.

Staying in the Vehicle

Guests will not be allowed to remain in the van while the rest of the group walks the trail, so this tour is not recommended for guests with walking difficulties.

Guests will not be allowed to remain in the van while the rest of the group walks the trail, so this tour is not recommended for guests with walking difficulties.

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