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McNeil River Bears 



Congratulations to our 2022 McNeil River Permit winners!! If you are a winner, Northwind Aviation is perfect for accommodating your transportation needs! Give us a call!


Access to McNeil River is by permit only. Permits are distributed by the AK Department of Fish and Game on a lottery basis. If you are a permit winner congratulations! You are about to embark on a truly unique experience.

Flights to and from the McNeil River are available on a per-seat fare basis.

The Experience 

McNeil River bear viewing is known to be an extraordinary experience! Individuals from all over the world apply for permits to go to McNeil, and those who are lucky enough to get drawn rave about the adventures, beautiful scenery, stunning photography, and of course, the majestic brown bears! McNeil River holds a special place in the hearts of those who have gone! 


Round-trip flight: 

$795 per person plus tax and 7.85% fuel surcharge


Photo by Melissa J. Meade

Are You a Permit winner??

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are my departure and pick up times related to the tide and/or weather?
Yes, travel to and from McNeil River Sanctuary is accessed by floatplane only at high tide. This means only ONE flight per day at high tide (which changes from day to day). The flight times are scheduled to coincide with high tide and to maximize viewing times. As a result, it is customary to travel one day prior to your first viewing day and depart on the last day that your viewing period ends. There are times when weather does not allow for travel as scheduled. Given there is only one flight per day, please include an extra day or two in your travel plans for this possibility.

2. Where do I park my vehicle?
Free parking is available at Northwind Aviation for McNeil River customers. Please click on the google map at the bottom of the page for directions to our dock. 

Resting Bear.JPG

3. What type of bags may you bring?
A few smaller compressible bags are preferable to large and/or hard-sided cases. There is not a limitation on the size or volume of the contents. The distance needed to carry your gear to camp varies between 200 feet and a quarter-mile depending on conditions when you arrive. You will need a backpack for viewing days as you will be away from camp most of the day.

4. Cost for the 2022 season?
Travel to McNeil is based on seat fare only. The prices below are based on a round trip rate per person.

Guided Viewing Permit: $795/seat + tax and 7.85% fuel surcharge with a 

270lb weight limit (Includes combined weight of person and gear)

  • Extra weight $2.50/lb. up to 320lbs.

  • No extra charge for credit cards.

Standby Viewing Permit: $795/seat + tax and 7.85% fuel surcharge with a

270lb weight limit*(Includes combined weight of person and gear)

  • Extra weight does require the purchase of an additional seat fare.

  • No extra charge for credit cards.

5. Preflight and Check-in?

Upon booking, you will be provided with your check-in and departure times.  These are chosen to ensure enough time to weigh you and your gear, park your car, pay in full, etc. We are located at Northwind Aviation: 1184 Lake Shore Dr, Homer, AK 99603.  

6. What method do we use for payment?
We accept cash, checks, Visa, American Express, or Master Card*. A $100 per person deposit will be required at the time of scheduling. Payment in full is due at the time of departure.

*There is no extra charge for the use of a credit card.

7. Should I schedule my airline travel the same day in and out of Homer?
No, it would be best to allow for airline cancellation and/or lost bags. Plan to arrive in Homer the day prior to your departure. Please allow an extra day or two in your departure schedule from Homer for possible delays in leaving McNeil due to weather.

8. Where can I find MORE INFORMATION?
Please refer to the hand out you received in the mail or email from Fish and Game for food, water, clothing, and other logistical information. Click the button below for more info:

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