Pack Creek Bear Tours was founded by Ken Leghorn, a pioneer of wilderness conservation and adventure tourism. For decades, Ken has shared his passion for Southeast Alaska with visitors. We offer personalized, guided fly-out wildlife viewing day trips from Juneau, Alaska to Pack Creek as well as other locations in Southeast Alaska. Pack Creek Bear Tours is operated by Fortress of the Bears LLC., a partnership between Kootzoowoo Inc., the Alaska Native Village Corporation for the town of Angoon, the only settlement on Admiralty Island, and Alaska Seaplanes, Juneau’s largest air taxi service for scheduled and chartered small plane service throughout the northern Inside Passage. Pack Creek Bear Tours is an equal opportunity service provider (per Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended). Tours are operated under special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service Tongass National Forest or Alaska State Parks.
Brown Bears of the Inside Passage
The bears we see are coastal brown bears (Ursus arctos). They are the same species as the grizzly bear, though in coastal areas these bears grow much larger due to the abundance of wild salmon and other food. The indigenous Tlingit people call Admiralty Island “Kootznoowoo,” interpreted as “Fortress of the Bear(s),” referring to the native brown bear. Most of the island was protected by Congress in 1980 as the Kootznoowoo Wilderness. It is home to one of the largest concentrations of brown bears in Alaska or Canada, with an estimated 1,600 brown bears roaming Admiralty’s forests, beaches and alpine slopes. The Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary on Admiralty Island has been a popular bear viewing area since the 1930s. The area is cooperatively managed by the USDA Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Pack Creek Bear Tours, as a partnership of Alaska Seaplanes and Kootznoowoo Inc. from Angoon, was awarded the top level of guided permits for all of Admiralty Island and the Kootznoowoo Wilderness by the US Forest Service.
Your Brown Bear Guide-Naturalists
Every guide-naturalist at Pack Creek Bear Tours is an Alaska resident, with years if not decades of experience leading trips into the Alaska wilderness. All are certified in Basic First Aid/CPR or Wilderness First Responder.
Bjorn Dihle is a life long Alaskan, who first fell in love with Admiralty Island when he was four during a family camping trip. He works as a writer, guide and instructor of outdoor recreation courses when he wants to bump up his lifestyle. Otherwise, you’ll find him with the bears in the rain forest, following caribou in the Arctic or hiking around the Juneau area with his golden retriever Fenrir. Read some of Bjorn’s articles on Alaska natural and cultural history in the Juneau Empire.
Ken Leghorn moved to Juneau in 1978 with his back pack, a degree in Biology, and a love of wilderness and wildlife. He spent the next 25 years as a sea kayak, raft, and bear guide, including his first visit to Pack Creek in 1980. Ken also became manager and co-owner of Alaska Discovery, the state’s oldest and largest wilderness guiding company, which was sold to Mountain Travel Sobek in 2000. Ken helped found and then managed Pack Creek Bear Tours, and continues to guide bear viewing trips as often as possible. “Helping people discover the wilds of Alaska has been my passion for nearly 40 years, and I’m not slowing down yet!”
Teresa Whipple It was love at first breathe of rainforest air for Teresa, a Tennessean by birth, when she landed in the Pacific Northwest 15 years ago. With her Captain’s license in hand, she has explored the Inside Passage waterways since, always on the lookout for wildlife. Teresa is a Naturalist specializing in the bear species of North America: black, brown and white. She is thrilled to join the Pack Creek team this year to continue sharing her passion for bears and an untamed world with other wilderness enthusiasts, and is delighted to have the opportunity to share the brown bears of Alaska that captured her own heart.
Dan Kirkwood General Manager. Dan has worked with wildlife in wilderness since he moved to Juneau in 2009. He started guiding whale watching trips before working as a wilderness ranger with the U.S. Forest Service in the glacial fjords of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. He was the Campaign Manager for the Alaska Wilderness League’s Rainforest Program and has a M.S. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland. After several seasons guiding, Dan took over as General Manager in 2017, and works with Ken and the team to continue the company’s commitment to responsible wildlife and wilderness ethics. Dan is also a musician in several bands in Juneau and New York City. He minds our Facebook page and Instagram @packcreekbeartours.