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Grizzly Bears and Cubs near Denali National Park

A Gateway to Wildlife Viewing in Denali National Park

Situated on the periphery of Denali National Park, Chelatna Lake Lodge is among the longstanding historic lodges nearby. Diverging from standard wildlife tour destinations, it rests in a secluded area at the foothills of the majestic Alaska Range. Its optimal location offers a unique viewpoint for wildlife enthusiasts in pursuit of  interactions with most of the park’s 39 species of mammals. 

Grizzly Bears of Denali

Among the highlights of the park's wildlife spectacle are grizzly bears. Despite their shared species status with brown bears, they are distinct subspecies. Brown bears, typically larger, flourish along coastlines, sustaining on marine resources like salmon. Grizzly bears, often inland, depend on berries and grasses, occasionally preying on moose and caribou. Our proximity to the park enhances the chance of encountering both grizzly and black bears on daily excursions.

A Birdwatcher’s Paradise

We also offer guided and non-guided birdwatching tours. Whether boating along the lake’s edge, paddling down Lake Creek, or hiking our crafted lodge trails, over 160 species await to be checked off your list. Witness eagles soaring and catch the melodic calls of songbirds in Denali’s vibrant skies. For more on birding opportunities at the lodge, explore our dedicated birding page. This could be your Big Year!

Tundra Wilderness Tours

Our lodge often welcomes moose and their calves. Adult males, weighing 900-1400 pounds, frequent the lake’s willow marshes, sometimes swimming across. There is also a plethora of other mammals in the region including river otters, beaver, wolverines, pine martin, ermin, marmot, arctic ground squirrels, wolves, coyotes and even lynx. 

Wildlife Photography for Beginners & Experts

Whether you own a brand new professional camera or smartphone, there’s a good chance that one of your pictures might end up printed and framed in your home office. Wildlife photographers flock to Denali, recognizing our lodge as the ideal starting point to capture the essence of untamed wilderness. Whether it’s the elusive lynx or the playful river otter, every moment holds the potential for the perfect shot.

Top Tips for Wildlife Viewing

Like most park visitors, our lodge guests aspire to see moose, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, wolverines and lynx. Acknowledging the difficulty of spotting them during a single trip, we have a couple of tips. We like to start your day early, take a flightseeing trip to go deeper into the park, move quietly, trust your guide, and, or course, hope for a bit of luck. Nature remains unpredictable, and we like to keep it that way. If wildlife sightings were guaranteed, we might as well take you to a zoo. Our guided tours adhere to responsible viewing distances and practices, prioritizing the well-being of the animals and their habitats. If you have questions, don't hesitate to call us. 

The Northern Lights in Denali

While Denali’s wildlife steals the spotlight during the day, the night sky offers its own breathtaking display. For visitors coming during the fall or winter months, there’s a real chance that you might be able to see the aurora borealis. Chelatna Lake Lodge’s remote location minimizes light pollution, creating optimal conditions for seeing them. Our lodge owners and staff keep an eye out for solar flare activity, ensuring that if there’s a chance you might see them, someone will let you know.