Pack Creek Bear Tours was founded by Ken Leghorn, a pioneer of wilderness conservation and adventure tourism. For decades, Ken 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.
About Pack Creek
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. People have come to Pack Creek to see bears since the 1930s. Over generations, many bears have learned to tolerate human presence. The area is cooperatively managed by the USDA Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Pack Creek Bear Tours was awarded the top level of guided permits for Pack Creek by the US Forest Service.
Every guide-naturalist at Pack Creek Bear Tours has 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.
Jess Skiba grew up across the street from Lake Michigan. As a child in her industrial hometown of Whiting, Indiana, her big outdoor adventures were finding different ways across the railroad tracks and navigating through the grasses to the beach. Her background is in theatre and music, she is an Interlochen Arts Academy Alumni and studied vocal performance at Indiana University. In college, she spent two summers guiding overnight wilderness canoe trips at Northern Tier, a Boy Scout high adventure base in Ely, MN. Living outside of NYC after college; working odd jobs, singing, and auditioning, she realized she wanted way more outdoor adventure so took an AmeriCorps position in Juneau, AK in the spring of 2011 as a crew leader and field educator for a conservation corps and has since never really officially left Juneau. She has worked in the outdoor field since then in SE AK and she spent three life changing seasons with the Forest Service on Admiralty Island; two as a ranger at Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area. In her off time she enjoys travelling to anywhere and pursuing her love for music and theatre through performance. This is her favorite place in the world and looks forward to her seventh outdoor work season in Southeast Alaska.
Ken Leghorn Founder. Ken 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 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, assembling and training our current crew.
His focus was on getting people “out there,” and helping them create their own experience. Ken passed away in 2017. In addition to his long legacy as a guide, he was loved by his family, friends and community. Ken is remembered as a force in philanthropy and conservation of Alaska’s wild places.
Hannah Wilson was born and raised exploring the wilderness of Southeast Alaska by boat and foot and visited the Pack Creek bears for the first time as a toddler riding on her dad’s shoulders. When she’s not flying out to look at bears she guides expedition kayak trips in Glacier Bay, takes Juneau kids out and about in the rainforest for hands-on nature education, and manages water quality data for a local conservation organization. Her days off usually include working on her houseboat and running around the Juneau area looking for snow, wild animals and blueberries, with the main goal always being to tire out her dog, Rio.
Dan Kirkwood General Manager. Dan has worked on wildlife and wilderness issues since he moved to Juneau in 2009. In addition to guiding, he was a wilderness ranger with the U.S. Forest Service in the glacial fjords of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. After receiving a M.S. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland, he managed the Alaska Wilderness League’s Rainforest Program. After several seasons guiding, Dan took over as General Manager in 2017, and works with 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.
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.