More Wildlife of the Alaska Highway

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The Alaska Highway is well regarded as one of North America’s great adventure routes. An ‘Into the Wild’ type of journey that tugs at the wildest heart strings of those that travel the historic route each year.

Venturing north, the highway clambers through some of the most remote, and vast wilderness on the continent. A wilderness that is home to an abundance of wildlife seemingly unmatched anywhere else. Get your camera ready!

For the nature enthusiast, travelling the Alaska Highway can be a very fulfilling experience. Our diverse, rugged, and secluded landscapes are prime habitat for many of North Americas largest mammals including Moose, Caribou, Wood Bison, Grizzly Bear and Stone’s Sheep. A wide array of other fur barring critters such as Red Fox, Wolverine, and Lynx are common place as well. Keep your eyes to the sky, the Alaska Highway hosts a plethora of birds that are both resident and migratory in nature. These include Trumpeter Swan, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, Great Grey Owl, and Red-tail Hawk.

The chance to see some of the wildlife along the Alaska Highway is great throughout the year. With that being said, here are some tips to increase your odds, while doing so in a conscious manner:

  • Early bird gets the worm! Try to be on the road in the early hours of the morning, just after sunrise. In the summer, much of the animal kingdom are active at this time, before the heat of the day.
  • Work late! Like the early morning, the late evening is also prime time for wildlife. Going for a drive after supper often yields great results.
  • Stay Ready! Encounters with wildlife are often sudden, unexpected, and brief. Have your camera ready to go at all times. Insure that the camera settings are optimized for quick motion and continuous autofocus tracking in the event that the animal might run(or fly) away.
  • More eyes, more prize! Have other people in the vehicle keep their eyes out for unsuspected wildlife. The more eyes in the game, the better your odds are of seeing something hiding that you might not see otherwise.
  • Stay Safe! Alway be aware of your surroundings, and other road users behind or in front of you. Avoid sudden stops, blind spots, stopping for wildlife on corners, or hills, and never stay parked on the middle of the road. Pull over, insure you are in a safe spot for passing traffic, and give the animal its respectful space.
  • Keep them wild! Never feed a wild animal. Doing so can ultimately create an unnatural comfort level to vehicles, and humans, which can put the animal at risk in the future.

The following gallery is a portfolio of some of the more common animals you can expect to see on your journey, with a few notes on their nature in the related captions.

Grizzly Bear – The largest of the bear family along the Alaska Highway, the Grizzly is predominately brown, but sometimes blonde in colour, with a large hump above its front shoulders.
Moose – The largest, and heaviest extent of the deer family, Moose are perhaps the most common large mammal along the Alaska Highway. Females lack antlers, while males can display large dish like structures nearly reaching two metres across.
Wood Bison – North Americas largest land mammal, Wood Bison were nearly extinct at one time, before being reintroduced in northern British Columbia. They are often seen travelling along or on the highway near Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park.
Canada Lynx – A medium-sized feline that is often on the move in search of prey. They have distinctively large feet, and black tufts above each ear. They can be spotted throughout the entire Alaska Highway, and perhaps more frequently in the Spring.
Woodland Caribou – The North American subspecies of the Reindeer, these large mammals can often be found licking salt for mineral content from the surface of the Alaska Highway, particularly in the northern Rockies and south Yukon.
Stone’s Sheep – Northern BC is home to some of the worlds largest populations of Stone’s Sheep. Commonly found in Stone Mountain, and Muncho Lake Provincial Parks, males have large curled horns, while females develop smaller, more linear displays.
Elk or Wapiti – A large member of the deer family. Males can develop rather large antlers in the summer, with females going without through the entire year. Commonly sighted near Toad River and Fort Nelson.
Porcupine – A large rodent with a coat of spines or quills for protection against larger predators. Commonly sighted just before dusk.
Red Fox – One of the most widely distributed animals on the continent, the Red Fox or its variant, Cross Fox, can often be seen hunting for small prey along the Alaska Highway.
Great Grey Owl – The largest species of owl by length, the Great Grey Owl is a phenomenal hunter. Their dish shaped face, allows them to rely on sound alone to capture unsuspecting prey underneath the snow.

Plenty to look forward to when travelling the Alaska Highway. If you happen to photograph some wildlife along the way, we would love to see it! Follow us on Instagram @celebratealaskahighway and use the hashtag #explorealaskahighway to be featured!

-The Alaska Highway