Visit Silver Salmon Creek

A trip to Silver Salmon Creek on Lake Clark's Cook Inlet coast offers outstanding bear viewing and sport fishing opportunities for visitors. This page provides the information you need to plan your trip.

 
 
an orange plane on a beach with a rainbow overhead
Fixed-wing aircraft can land on the beach at Silver Salmon Creek. Rainbow not guaranteed.

NPS/J. Irvine

Getting to Silver
Salmon Creek

Flying to Silver Salmon Creek
Landing gear: Wheels

Most visitors arrive by small plane operating on wheels that land on the beach. Though it is legal for planes to land in the ocean or in the river, many operators choose not to take their float planes here due to the corrosive nature of salt water and the extreme tides in Cook Inlet that can make operating on floats tricky. The flight from Homer, Kenai or Anchorage is less than an hour.

Prices depend on group size, type of airplane, length of flight, where the flight originates, and whether you choose to hire a guided trip or just an air taxi. Contact each operator directly to determine the cost for your trip.

The linked air taxi operators are permitted to operate within the national park under FAA Part 135 air taxi regulations which require three miles visibility and glide distance to shorelines while crossing open water such as Cook Inlet. There are also guide services permitted to guide in the park who fly aircraft, land outside the park and walk into the park for guiding purposes. Those guides operate under FAA part 91 regulations which have lower safety visibility and glide distance requirements. The beaches below mean high tide along Cook Inlet are outside Lake Clark National Park.

Taking a Boat to Silver Salmon Creek
It is also possible to travel across Cook Inlet in a boat, though the seas are often rough. A one way trip is approximately 50 miles from the Homer Harbor and 30 from Anchor Point and can take two to four hours depending on the boat and ocean conditions. Extreme tides make access to Silver Salmon Creek challenging for boats.

Navigating the Tides
Pilots and boat operators wishing to travel to Silver Salmon should be aware of the extreme tidal fluctuations in this area. Use the Seldovia tide chart and add 30 minutes to the predicted cycles. If you do not anchor your boat or float plane far enough from shore, it will end up sitting in the mud on the tidal flats at low tide. If you don't park your wheeled plane high enough on the beach, it will end up in the water at high tide.

Latitude/Longitude
The Ranger Station is located at approximately 59° 58.810' N 152° 39.910W

 
 

Getting Around

Area lodges transport their guests in trailers towed by ATVs. Everyone else must travel between sites on foot. Be prepared to walk through sandy terrain a few hundred yards from the beach to the nearest sedge meadow or fishing spot. You may walk two or more miles back and forth between sites on the salt marsh and/or those in the tidal flats and creeks in search of bears or fish.

The sedge meadow is closed to human entry between the Sargent Creek confluence and the Silver Salmon Creek from June 15 to September 15 for habitat restoration. Visitors are asked to please stay on the established foot path.

Off-Road vehicle trails: The beach is the only corridor formally approved for ORV use by the general public. ORV use on trails highlighted in pink on the map requires a special use permit from the National Park Service.

Please park ORVs at the end of the beach trail adjacent to the creek crossing and access the creek on foot. It is disruptive to bears and other visitors to ride up to the edge and along the creek.
 
 
 
a red fox stands among green vegetation
Brown bears aren't the only wildlife at Silver Salmon. Red foxes, moose, ermines, and wolves occasionally make appearances at the sedge meadows and beaches of Silver Salmon.

NPS/K. Lewandowski

Things to Do

Brown Bear and Wildlife Viewing
Silver Salmon Creek offers world class brown bear viewing. Brown bears can be seen grazing in the sedge meadows in late spring to mid summer, fishing in the creek during the salmon run in late summer, or digging for clams on the beach throughout the season. Moose, wolves, foxes, ermines, and marine mammals have also been encountered at Silver Salmon.

Sport Fishing
Coho (silver) salmon and humpback (pink) salmon as well as Dolly Varden run up the creek in the late summer, providing ample excitement for adventurous anglers. Sport fishers must abide by all State of Alaska fishing regulations.

Bird Watching
Bears aren't the only wildlife that congregates in Silver Salmon Creek's rich estuary.

  • Shorebirds stage in the mud and sand flats during spring migration.
  • Dabbling ducks are present all summer, but peak during migration in April and September. Look for them at river mouths and mud flats.
  • Seabirds nest on rocky cliffs north of Silver Salmon Creek and also on nearby Chisik and Duck islands during the summer and can be seen foraging in the ocean.
  • Loons nest and forage in coastal freshwater ponds including nearby Silver Salmon Lakes.
  • Raptors nest and forage along the coast and rivers year round.
  • Songbirds nest and forage in the salt marshes and forests.

Clam Digging
The tidal flats, while a bit rocky, are filled with razor, little neck, and butter clams. Keep in mind that all shell fish may be exposed to the algae that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poising (PSP). Eating contaminated shellfish can cause severe illness or death. This beach is not monitored for PSP. Gather and consume shellfish here at your own risk. Visitors wishing to fish or dig for clams must follow all State of Alaska fishing regulations. Please clean clams below the tide line and cast remains into the ocean.

Hiking
Travelers with experience in brown bear country can do day hikes from the Silver Salmon Ranger Station south to the Red River or north to Johnson River.

Camping
Camping in a location with a dense concentration of brown bears has risks. If you choose to camp at Silver Salmon, learn more about Camping on the Cook Inlet Coast.

Lodging and Guided Trips
Several licensed commercial outfitters specialize in day-long and overnight bear viewing and sport fishing trips to Silver Salmon Creek for travelers who prefer to visit bear country with a knowledgeable guide. Contact each company directly to determine the cost for your trip.

 
A cloudy day with green grass and yellow flowers in the foreground.

Checklist: Common Salt Marsh Plants

Brush up your knowledge of common sedges, grasses, flowers, and other plants of the Cook Inlet Coast.

Close up of five-petaled, pink flowers

Common Showy Flowers of Cook Inlet

Look closer at common showy flowers to learn how to identify and where to find them.

A close up of two bundles of small whitish flowers

Sedges and Grasses of Cook Inlet

Get a closer look at common salt marsh sedges and grasses and how to identify them.

Landscape of mountains and braided river channels.

West Cook Inlet Ecology

Dive in to learn how the Cook Inlet Coast is an extremely dynamic ecosystem.

Staring down at a bright blue lake circled by steep mountains

West Cook Inlet Coastal Geology

Tune in to how Lake Clark National Park's physiographic features are still shifting today.

 
a brown bear sow and two spring cubs looking at the camera
The abundant resources of Silver Salmon make it a perfect place to raise a brown bear family. These bears are curious, especially spring cubs. You are responsible for your safety and for keeping bears wild.

NPS/K. Ilgunas

Staying Safe

Bear Viewing Best Practices
Interactions between bears and people are different in a high density area like Silver Salmon Creek where people come with the intent to observe the bears than it is in the remainder of the park. Learn how to stay safe in this environment by becoming familiar with the bear viewing best practices prior to your trip to Silver Salmon Creek.

Fishing In Bear Country
While fishing can be exciting at Silver Salmon Creek, it offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities. You are responsible for your own safety and for keeping the bears wild. Become familiar with the responsibilities that come with fishing in bear country prior to your trip to Silver Salmon Creek.

In Addition to All Other Park Rules and Regulations
There are a few amenities and regulations at Silver Salmon Creek designed for your safety.

  • A Ranger Station is located on the south side of the creek, just off the trail from the south beach.
  • Eating is discouraged above the beach. This restriction is intended to minimize the risk of negative human/bear interactions and prevent bears from associating human food with the bear viewing sites in and adjacent to the meadow.If you are staying at an area lodge, it is best to keep your food there.
  • Attend your food. If you have any food with you, you must keep it packed out of site and in your possession at all times or stored in an approved bear resistant food container.
  • Secure your fish in an approved bear-resistant container as soon as you catch it. They are available from the ranger station or your guide.
  • Abide by all State of Alaska Fishing Regulations These apply to digging clams, catch and release fishing, as well as fishing with the intent to keep your catch.
 
 

Last updated: July 25, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 227
Port Alsworth, AK 99653

Phone:

(907) 644-3626

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