McNeil River Game Sanctuary
Congratulations, did you win a McNeil River Permit?? You are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime!
Access to McNeil River is by permit only. Permits are distributed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on a lottery basis.
McNeil River Bear Viewing is known to be an extraordinary experience! Individuals from all over the world apply for permits to go to McNeil. Those who are lucky enough to get drawn, rave about the adventures, beautiful scenery, stunning photography opportunities, and of course, living amongst brown bears for a few days! McNeil River holds a special place in the hearts of those who have gone!
$1,010 per person
includes all taxes and fees
Photo by Melissa J. Meade
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 that we fly in for drop off on the high tide the day before your permit starts and come in for pickup on the last day of your viewing permit. 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. Be prepared to wait out weather for multiple days on both the Homer side and McNeil side.
2. Where do I park my vehicle?
Free parking is available at Northwind Aviation at our Beluga Lake Office for McNeil River customers. Please click on the google map at the bottom of the page for directions to our dock.
3. What type of bags may you bring?
The distance needed to carry your gear to camp varies between 200 feet and a 1/4 mile depending on conditions when you arrive. Dry bags and small soft or hardshell coolers are advised. Generally, people end up with 3-4 bags; 1 camera bag, 1-2 bags with camping gear & clothing and 1 bag/cooler with food items. You will need a backpack for viewing days as you will be away from camp most of the day.
4. Are there weight limits?
Yes, there is a 270lb weight limit (this is a combined weight of person and gear)
Extra weight can be purchased at $2.50 per lb. up to an additional 40lbs - let us know at booking if you think you'll need extra weight so we can build manifests accordingly
Please give accurate weight estimates when asked - over quote, don't under quote.
5. Preflight and Check-in?
Upon booking, you will be provided with your check-in and departure times. Remember that flights are tide dependent and we have specific times that we go each day. These times 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 Lakeshore Drive, Homer, AK
6. Payment Policy?
We accept credit cards, cash, & checks
A $100 per person deposit will be required at time of booking. Remaining balance is due at time of check-in.
7. Should I schedule my airline travel the same day as my McNeil flight 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 and please allow an extra day or two in your departure schedule from Homer for possible delays in leaving McNeil due to weather.
*There are multiple airlines that service Anchorage to Homer now
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. Many of our staff have been to McNeil and are happy to chat via phone should you have further questions.