McNeil River
Lottery Rules and Regulations

McNeil River Sanctuary application and permit fees

Permit and application fees for access permits to the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary bear viewing program are as follows:

Item Alaska Resident Fee (Per Person) Non-Resident Fee (Per Person)
Lottery Application Fee $30 $30
Guided Viewing Permit Winner Fee $225 $525
Camp-Standby Permit Winner Fee $112 $262

To maintain a fair and equitable system for allowing visitors access to the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, the following rules govern the lottery process for Viewing Access Permits:

  • A maximum of 13 non-transferable Viewing Access Permits will be in effect each day from June 7 through August 25.
  • A maximum of 10 of the 13 permits will be Guided Viewing Permits allowing the holder access to the sanctuary and to the designated bear-viewing sites on Mikfik Creek or McNeil River.
  • A maximum of 3 of the 13 permits will be Camp-Standby Viewing Permits allowing the holder access to the sanctuary, base camp and viewing areas near camp and along the beach. Access to the designated bear viewing sites will be on a space available (standby) basis.
  • Viewing Access Permits are also required prior to June 7 and after August 25; these are issued at the discretion of the department.
  • Applicants may apply for Guided Viewing Permits and Camp-Standby Viewing Permits as an individual or as a party, with a maximum of three individuals per party.
  • A non-refundable application fee of $30 is required for each name on the application (paid by credit card, check or money order - checks and money orders must be in U.S. funds drawn on a U.S. bank. Cash will not be accepted). For example, if there were three names on the application, the total application fee would be $90.
  • Applicants may apply for Guided Viewing Permits, Camp-Standby Viewing Permits or both for the same $30 application fee.
  • An application found to be invalid for any reason would be ineligible for the lottery. This will include all persons that are listed on that application.
  • You are not allowed to submit more than one application per year. If more than one is submitted, all applications that include your name will be invalid and you will forfeit all application fees.
  • False or incorrect residency information on an application voids the application. Any Viewing Access Permit resulting from an application found to have false or incorrect residency information will be revoked.
  • Any application that is illegible or has incomplete information will be invalid.
  • Any credit card charges that are denied or checks returned for insufficient funds will void the entire application.
  • Any rejected, revoked or ineligible application will forfeit the application fee.
  • Applications cannot be accepted in person. They must be submitted online or mailed to the address listed on the application. Applications must be submitted online by March 1 or if mailed, they must arrive at our Anchorage office by March 1.
  • If you are a successful applicant (winner), you must wait 1 year until you are eligible to apply again for a Viewing Access Permit. Example: if you won a 2013 viewing permit, you can apply again for the 2015 viewing season.
  • Successful applicants will be notified of their lottery results via e-mail and U.S. Mail in mid-March (unsuccessful applicants will only be notified only by e-mail, if you provide a valid e-mail address). Winners will also be posted on the McNeil River sanctuary homepage. Viewing Access Permit winners must pay a user fee. The user fee for a 4-day Guided Viewing Permit is $225 for Alaska residents and $525 for non-Alaska residents. The user fee for a 4-day Camp-Standby Viewing Permit is $112 for Alaska residents and $262 for non-Alaska residents. We must receive this fee by April 15 or you will forfeit your permit.
  • Should circumstances prevent you from visiting the sanctuary, you may obtain a refund of your user fee only if we receive written notification in our Anchorage office before May 15.
  • Permits are issued for 4 days. Due to weather and tides, a visitor who wants to use all four days will need to arrive the day before their permit is valid and depart the sanctuary the day after their permit expires, or as soon as weather allows.
  • Please note that the ADF&G must supply the names and addresses of lottery applicants to those that request it.