We left our campground on the water and headed a few miles away to find a campsite at the Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site. We found a couple that looked like they might be preparing to leave and asked them if they were. Turns out they were planning to switch to a beautiful site across the road that was on the water, just as soon as it became vacant, so we played musical campsites and occupied their old site as soon as they moved.
Despite not being on the water, our campsite was nice. It was close to the campground entrance, which made our walk down to the weir shorter. The price was also not bad for an Alaska state campground at $15/night. (Some of the SRAs were as high as $25/night for dry camping in campgrounds that were not as nice as this one.)
Once settled, we made our pets comfortable and walked down the road along the river in hopes to see a bear. We hung out for an hour or two at the weir, but no bears joined us.
We went back to our campsite, and after a short break, got the motorhome and parked it in a small pullout near the weir. The rangers preferred that we had a vehicle nearby to duck into if the bears got close. This time, before too long, bears started arriving.
Our first bear of the afternoon was Speedy’s older daughter, now on her own. (We met Speedy next.)
We could have watched them all day if they had stayed at the river.
It was also interesting to watch how the man counting salmon interacted with the bears. With Speedy, he basically discouraged her from coming too close to him. With the cubs (and some other bears he did not know as well), he kept his distance and made way for the bears when necessary.
There was also a no stopping zone on the road near the weir, although cars would either crawl by or stop anyway if the bears were around.
The reason for the zone was that the bears often crossed that area when moving from the mountains to the weir. You were also not allowed to stand in that area, which sometimes was a bit frustrating for photography.
We spent the whole rest of the day and the next morning watching for and photographing bears. We recognized nine different bears. I was in heaven! This was high on my bucket list to see bears catching salmon in a river in their natural habitat. It was amazing!
If we didn’t have reservations, I would have stayed there much longer. When I get my chance to return to Alaska, I will stay in the Chilkoot Lake Recreation Site campground near the river for a week. And I’ll be happy to stay a few days at Oceanside as well, to catch up on laundry and maybe even check out some museums and shops, and enjoy that spectacular scenery. But I’m coming back for the bears.
Driving time: 0:20
Overnight: Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site, Haines, AK
Weather: Mostly sunny (42/64)
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 5,601
Total miles: 7,169