McNeil River
Wildlife Viewing Permits Overview

Proposed McNeil River and Walrus Islands sanctuary access permit fee increases

Due to increasing operational costs and declining state revenues, the Department of Fish and Game is proposing to change regulations relating to fees for access permits to the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary.

In compliance with Alaska's Administrative Procedures Act, you may review and comment on the proposed regulation changes by visiting the Alaska Online Public Notice System ( or by contacting Joe Meehan, Lands and Refuges Program Coordinator at or (907) 267-2281. Comments must be submitted in writing by the comment deadline of 5:00pm on January 19, 2018.

A copy of the Public Notice may be downloaded here (PDF 104 kB).

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.