Access to the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary is restricted by Alaska Statute (AS 16.20.162) and requires an access permit issued by ADF&G for entry into the sanctuary. The access permit program administered by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game manages visitor numbers and activities in the sanctuary and was developed after many years of excessive and uncontrolled public use of the area that often put people and bears in danger. Visitation to the Sanctuary is primarily through the brown bear viewing program operated annually June 7 through August 25 to provide the public with an opportunity to view and photograph bears while minimizing their impacts to bears and wildlife habitats.
Due to the popularity of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary bear viewing program, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game conducts a lottery to select visitors to the sanctuary. Information on the access permits available to visit the sanctuary is available through the Permits tab above and the Licensing & Permits McNeil River web page. You may apply online or with a mail-in application through the the Licensing & Permits McNeil River web page. You may also contact McNeil support staff at the address, telephone or e-mail listed on the "Contact McNeil" page if you have any questions or need additional information.