RoadTrippin': Redoubt Bay Lodge off the beaten path for cars, but not bears
Catching a flight out of Lake Hood, Redoubt Bay Lodge is only a 50-minute plane ride over Cook Inlet.
Family owned and operated, Redoubt Bay Lodge covers five acres. "We're not like a normal lodge," Kiara Myre, who works at the lodge seasonally, said.
Whether you're checking in for relaxation or an adventure, there's no shortage of activities to settle wanderlust.
The aesthetic is best described as rural-and-rustic meets modern in the mountains. A small staff includes adventure guides and a five-star chef with a flare for featuring local fare, "He makes some really nice food and even decorates it for our guests," Myre said.
Bush pilot Douglas Brewer Jr., whose family operates the lodge, says there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy wildlife in the Big River Lakes area.
After arriving by float plane, we were greeted at the dock by our bear guide for the day and loaded up a pontoon boat. Steve Stringham has been studying bears since 1969. "I've had females trust me so much they leave their cubs with me when they go off to fish," he says.
Stringham made a point to ask what we hoped to get out of the trip. With a bear sighting high on the priority list, he said he also wants to make sure visitors don't leave disappointed. "The first summer I was here, only about 50 percent of the trips got to see a bear," he said.
Now, almost every trip leads to viewing a bear, Stringham noted while taking us to various areas of the lake. During the ride, two trumpeter swans swam in a cove, eagles perched in the tree tops and along rock beds waiting for salmon scraps.
We docked in Diving Bear Cove at Wolverine Creek. Salmon were visibly jumping from the water, and sport fishermen eagerly cast lines in hopes of limiting out quickly.
In less than 10 minutes,we were joined by Malcor, a young brown bear Stringham believes has only recently been kicked out by his mother so she can mate and have more cubs.
Malcor is almost playful in his approach to catching salmon. He doesn't quite have the skills for catching in the open water like older bears might. He stays close to the rocks and doesn't seem to mind giving his leftovers to the eagles. "The interaction with the eagles...I've never seen that out here before, so you're really lucky," Stringham said.
It's only a matter of minutes before Malcor has drawn a crowd. Even the anglers seem happy to share their potential catches with the brown bear. Brewer, who also works as a fishing guide, said the cove is special because it offers a chance to fish safely from a boat and watch a bear ripping into salmon.
While the trip is pricey, it's sort of an "Alaskan bucket list" item that can be completed in less than a day.
"You can do what you think you're going to do when you come to Alaska. You can catch fish, see bears, see glaciers and you're going to get to ride in some awesome bush planes," Brewer said.