Visitor Activities

Hiker on Refuge

Travel to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, is logistically challenging, but definitely worth the effort! The scenery, wildlife, and wilderness experiences that the Refuge offers are truly unique - the experience of a lifetime! The following information will help you to plan a trip to the Refuge, and, as always, Refuge staff are available to answer your questions and discuss your travel preparations.

  • Hunting

    Waterfowl Hunting

    Izembek's hunting opportunities, particularly for brown bear and waterfowl, are world famous. When salmon are running, brown bear densities can be among the highest recorded; as many as six bears per mile along some streams. Fall waterfowl hunting is spectacular, as well, and hardy wetland enthusiasts can pursue light and dark geese (Canada geese, black brant), dabbling ducks (mallard, pintail), diving ducks, and sea ducks. Ptarmigan are abundant and are year round residents. Izembek is home to approximately 180 species of birds, and of these, there are a wide variety of waterfowl available to hunt. The Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd is estimated at 2,700 and during teh fall sport hunt, hunters can take two bulls. A resident moose season also takes place in December and January, allowing local hunters to harvest one bull. 


  • Fishing

    Salmon underwater

    Five species of salmon: silver [coho]; pink [humpback]; sockeye [red]; chum [dog];and chinook [king], fill the waters of the Refuge in a series of runs lasting from mid-summer through fall. Fishing opportunities for salmon are best from August through September. Depending upon location and time of year, lucky anglers can also expect to harvest Dolly Varden char and steelhead trout from refuge and local streams. The annual Silver Salmon Derby is held in Cold Bay every year during the Labor Day weekend. As always, when fishing, be bear-aware! The large coastal brown bears are feeding on the same salmon you're trying to catch! Find more information with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Caribou with Frosty Peak in Background

    The flocks of waterfowl and abundant bears that attract hunters also lure those who prefer to watch or photograph wildlife. Izembek allows such visitors to pursue their interests while enjoying the experience of a true wilderness adventure in an area of unsurpassed scenic beauty. Backpacking and remote camping can be spectacular. However, caution should always be used in regard to rapidly changing weather conditions. Even during the summer months, high winds and heavy rainstorms are common. And, of course, the entire refuge is bear habitat; visitors should hike and camp accordingly.

  • Wildlife Photography


    From the pristine waters of its lakes and streams, to the looming cone of Shishaldin volcano, to a horizon of barren, glacier-shouldered mountains, Izembek offers the visiting photographer spectacular scenery as well as abundant wildlife. The sharp contrast between tidal wetlands and steep, mountainous terrain afford many photo opportunities. Wandering caribou, bears, and foxes can be photogenic additions to landscape images. Of course, visitors of the Refuge are advised to be aware of the possibility of bear encounters at all times, and to use a long lens, rather than a risky approach, to get that prized bruin close-up.


  • Interpretation

    Interpretation Tour Bus

     At Grant Point, overlooking the world famous Izembek Lagoon, the refuge has constructed a small observation building. Through the 360-degree viewing windows, visitors have the opportunity to view a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, shorebirds, sea otter, seals, and both gray and killer whales. Interpretive panels help the visitor learn more about the variety of species found in the area, as well as about this important marine eelgrass lagoon environment. An interpretive display is also maintained in the Cold Bay airline terminal. A mini-visitor center at the refuge headquarters houses several wildlife displays; and a variety of maps and printed information is available to assist visitors. Refuge staff are always available to answer questions and provide information as needed.


  • Environmental Education

    Sand Point Nature Photography for Kids

    Refuge staff work the with nearby villages and schools in Nelson Lagoon, Sand Point, King Cove, False Pass and Cold Bay to further educate and inform students and residents about local and refuge wildlife and habitats. Numerous programs and activities are conducted in Cold Bay for residents, and particularly for the children of the area. Programs included presentations on endangered Steller's eiders, Alaskan caribou and the mission and purpose of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Through new digital video satellite technology implemented by the Aleutians East Borough, programs at the Cold Bay school were viewed by students in King Cove, False Pass, and Sand Point.