Alaska in May

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south Florida
440 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
I booked the Radiance of the seas mid-late May
Now I hear that I won't see much wildlife in May.
What can I expect? Where should I tour to see more Animals?
( doing 4 day land tour too)
Northeast US
974 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by 4cats,1dog
I booked the Radiance of the seas mid-late May
Now I hear that I won't see much wildlife in May.
What can I expect? Where should I tour to see more Animals?
( doing 4 day land tour too)
We were there in May and saw lots of wildlife. I've read that the bears are down low because there's still snow up high. We saw black and brown bears, mountain goats, whales (including bubblenetting), orcas, porpoises, sea lions, a marmot, a moose, a gazillion otters, and many different birds. Of course, we were on a small boat and got up close and personal, but I'm sure some of it will apply to your tours. Also, the scenery is so compelling, with the snow. At least, we thought so! Plus, you have less chance of rain than later in the summer.
623 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
We did the cruise land tour in late may and saw alot of wildlife. We rented a car in skagway and along the way we say a couple bears on the side of the road, one with two cubs. In denali we saw moose, bear, wolves, foxes, dall sheep, and a bobcat? not sure if that was the kind of cat it was but it was big and crossed the road right on front of our bus. We saw lots and found that to be our best time yet!!!!!
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633 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
WE went last week in May, great weather, 80 degrees, but we did not see many bears , or moose, on two whale watching boats saw many fish and birds whales, etc. mountains were beautiful with lots of snow, did a 5 day land tour to McKinley National Park,,still not many animals but only did the 17 miles drive tour you can do yourself. The mountain was out. really something to see. white mountain and blue skies
Central Texas
6,636 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
We sailed in May of 2009. There was a late record snow fall before we brought the Radiance up from San Francisco.

We were able to see a few bears from a plane. Saw lots of eagles, some big horn sheep, report of bear sightings in several areas, whales, sea lions on other tours. No salmon were running as it was way to early.

I think it also depends on where you are traveling. We saw the big horn sheep on our way to Emerald Lake, think there was also a sighting of a moose, but we missed that.

We leave in three days, hoping we see more salmon, thus more bear and hopefully more wildlife. Reports from a poster that the salmon were running a few weeks ago. Mother nature does her own thing. We were able to get really close to Hubbard Glacier in May. Recent reports are reporting that they haven't been able to get very close because of the fog that is supposed to be because of the warm weather.
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Crown Isle, BC & Fort Mohave, AZ
26,723 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Seldom do two years repeat themselves, this year was a great year weather which would result in an abundance of wildlife but that means nothing in the total scheme of things. There is a reason that pricing is lower in May, it is a shoulder season. If you have an opportunity to move into mid to late June or into July I think you would enjoy it more.
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88,725 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by 4cats,1dog
I booked the Radiance of the seas mid-late May
Now I hear that I won't see much wildlife in May.
What can I expect? Where should I tour to see more Animals?
( doing 4 day land tour too)
Don't worry about what you heard.

We have seen a lot of wild life in May and also did on our cruise there in April of 2012.

107,638 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
We have cruised in May a couple of times.

The weather was not great -- cold and rainy -- lots of snow in the higher elevations.

Saw very few animals.

The salmon runs don't start until the end of June -- first part of July.

This year's weather has been above normal.
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Stopped counting a few years ago -- have done over 140 cruises.
88,725 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I just wanted to mention that weather is weather.

In other words, one May the weather is perfect and another May it is not but the same is true of every month.

This is a photo I took in Glacier Bay in April of 2012 and we have sailed Alaska many times (May, June, July, August and September) and this was the finest weather day we have ever had in Glacier Bay.

In the end, weather and unpredictable weather is part of what makes Alaska so special.

Wheaton, IL USA
2,184 Posts
Joined May 2000
We did Alaska in 2003 and had amazing weather and saw lots of eagles, whales, sea lions. This was just a cruise, no land portion.

This May, 2013 we did the land portion and it snowed in Anchorage up to Denali. But, it did clear up and we did see assorted caribou & moose. No bears until Skagway. Not as many bald eagles as we saw in Sitka last time.

Saw Mt McKinley absolutely in the clear on our bus from Denali to Whittier. It was fogged in when we were in Denali with a perfectly clear blue sky.

If I did this again, I would go around the Summer Solstice: June 21 for the 23 hour daylight. It was pretty light even at 11 PM and 4:30 AM.

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Plano, Texas
1,131 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Not sure about the other wildlife, but May will definitely be too early to see any salmon spawning. Ketchikan and Juneau are the only places that I know of to see them.

Been to Alaska now 3 times and have yet to see a bear there! Saw more live bears in Waco, TX where my daughter just graduated from Baylor University. They have two live bears in a habitat there on campus.
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180 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
I had my best bear viewing in May on the North Klondike Highway out of Skagway. The bears really like the abundant dandelions on the side of the road and I was able to get some nice photos.