McNeil River
Wildlife Viewing Permits Overview

2018 Bear Viewing Special Notice

The McNeil River bear viewing program currently operates on approximately $146K annually ($63K generated in program receipts and $83K in general funds). Due to increasing operating costs and declining state general fund revenues the ADF&G will be proposing increases in McNeil River bear viewing lottery application and permit fees, to take effect for the 2018 season. More details on this proposed action will be made available in the upcoming weeks and the Department will seek public involvement. In the meantime, please be aware that McNeil River permits applied for now, for the 2018 season, are expected to cost more than currently advertised on our web pages. Please send any questions or comments you may on this potential price increase to

Viewing Permits

(See the Application page to apply for these permits)

  1. Guided Viewing Access Permits — Guided Viewing Permits allow the winner to visit the sanctuary, camp within campground and attend the guided bear viewing sessions each day of their 4-day permit during the specified time period. Applicants may enter up to four Guided time block choices during the period of June 7-August 25. A total of 185 individual permits, each valid for a 4-day period are available through this lottery. Applications must be submitted by March 1 of the viewing year and are available starting March 2 of the year prior to viewing.
  2. Camp-Standby Viewing Access Permits — Visitors holding Camp-Standby Viewing Access Permits are allowed to stay in the sanctuary campground, visit the beach seaward of the campground and view bears from the campground/beach area. These permit holders are eligible to fill vacancies in the guided bear viewing sessions; that occur when visitors holding Guided Viewing Access Permits do not use their permit(s). Camp-Standby winners are drawn in the same lottery as the Guided Viewing Access Permits. Applicants may enter up to four Standby time block choices. A total of 57 Camp-Standby Viewing Access Permits, each valid for a 4-day period, are issued each year.