Icy Strait Birding & Nature Experience

★★★★★
★★★★★

Trip Highlights

  • Pigeon Guillemot rookery

  • Bald Eagle nests

  • Temperate rainforest specialty birds

  • Salmon streams

  • Brown Bears and Sitka Black-tailed Deer sighted frequently

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

Description

Come experience the birds and nature of Chichagof Island, near Icy Strait Point! Every trip is an adventure in this lush rainforest where Brown Bears outnumber humans. While we love delivering stunning target birds like Varied Thrushes, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Bald Eagles, and Steller’s Jays, we aren’t just about birds on this tour. You will be led by an expert birder and naturalist who will set the stage by sharing the human and geological history of the area. You will then get to see how the birds, fish, mammals, plants, forests, rivers, and climate all weave together to create this lush, vibrant ecosystem!

Tour info

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

Icy Strait Point Excursion Hub

Dropoff location

Icy Strait Point Main Entrance

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 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 will 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! 

Check out Icy Strait Birding Tours on Trip Advisor to read reviews!

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

  • Transportation from/to the ship which includes a Return When Ready pass that allows exploring of Hoonah?

Excluded

  • Drinks & Snacks

  • Gratuity

  • US Forest Service Park Entrance Fee $6.59 per person

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.
No one who has taken our tour has ever missed or been late getting back to their ship!
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

Is there a minimun age required for this tour?

Yes, the minimun age allowed is 8 years old unless the Private Charter option is selected.

Yes, the minimun age allowed is 8 years old unless the Private Charter option is selected.

Is this tour limited mobility accessible?

Guests must be able to climb in and out of a van several times throughout the tour.
Tour also includes ½-mile walk on an uneven gravel path with some hills.
We do not recommend this tour to anyone with mobility issuess.

Guests must be able to climb in and out of a van several times throughout the tour.
Tour also includes ½-mile walk on an uneven gravel path with some hills.
We do not recommend this tour to anyone with mobility issuess.

Can I stay in the van while the group goes on the hike?

Guests will not be allowed to remain in the van while the rest of the group walks the trail. Leaving anyone by themselves in the forest is a liability issue.

Guests will not be allowed to remain in the van while the rest of the group walks the trail. Leaving anyone by themselves in the forest is a liability issue.

What should I wear?

We highly recommend bringing a packable 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 packable 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.

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