Our goal is for you to experience bear country: To see the bears, but also to explore this world-famous wilderness. Pack Creek Bear Tours was founded by Ken Leghorn, a pioneer of wilderness conservation and adventure tourism. We remain committed to sharing Ken’s passion for the places he’s helped to protect for us to enjoy. We offer personalized, guided fly-out bear viewing day trips from Juneau, Alaska to Pack Creek and other locations in Southeast Alaska.
About Pack Creek
Admiralty Island is also called “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.
We really think you’ll really enjoy spending time with our guides. Every guide-naturalist at Pack Creek Bear Tours has years if not decades of experience leading trips into the Alaska wilderness and each brings unique perspectives to the experience of seeing wild bears. All are certified in Basic First Aid/CPR or Wilderness First Responder.
Your guide’s understanding of bear behavior, experience with bear encounters and training with deterrents enhances the safety and enjoyment of a bear encounter. Guides also carry first aid equipment, radio and satellite communication devices. They’ll give instructions to help you enjoy your time in bear country as well as share their stories and perspectives from years in the wilderness.
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. 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.
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.
Ken passed away in 2017. His focus was on getting people “out there,” and helping them create their own experience. 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 the 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.
Jamie Karnik Logistics Manager. Jamie comes to Pack Creek Bear Tours with several years experience as an actual bear. From 2007-2009, Jamie foraged, hibernated and possibly mated on Chichagof Island after becoming a coastal brown bear in a painful transformation process that he says “involved lasers.” Human once again, Jamie lives in Juneau were he is a writer and filmmaker with Lucid Reverie and Alaska Robotics. He has also worked in maritime safety and conservation and as a guide.
Dan Kirkwood General Manager. Dan has worked in the wilderness with wildlife 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 viewing 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.
Clay Good is a life-long Alaskan who has devoted his career to nature education as a marine science and biology teacher in Juneau since 1984. He is also a board member of Discovery Southeast, a non-profit nature education organization that takes every Juneau elementary school student out in nature three times a year to learn to be comfortable and curious in nature.
Studying and appreciating bears has been a big part of Clay’s life since his first deer hunting trip on Kootznoowoo (Admiralty Island) in 1971. He’s delighted to be a part of the Pack Creek Bear Tours team and to share his knowledge and experiences with visitors to this great land.
There are lots of conservation groups doing good work in Alaska. Conservation of Alaska’s wild places was always a driving motivation for Ken. In addition to his constant advocacy for the old growth forests of Admiralty Island, he served on the board of Audubon Alaska, as the Chair of the Alaska Conservation Foundation and co-founded the Juneau Community Foundation and Discovery Southeast. This Juneau non-profit strives to provide every Juneau child a foundation in the outdoors, and a sense of comfort and curiosity in nature. We donate spots on our trips to raise money for Discovery Southeast, and many of our staff serve as board members or naturalists. We encourage you to make a donation so that Juneau kids can get outside and explore too!
We are also active participants in management of our public lands here in the Tongass National Forest. We advocate to ensure that there is wilderness, full of wild salmon and wild bears for all of us to explore. We hope you will too!
Pack Creek Bear Tours is operated by Fortress of the Bears LLC. Fortress of the Bears LLC is a partnership between Kootzoowoo Inc., the Alaska Native Village Corporation for the town of Angoon, 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.