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Photos: Viewing Alaska wildlife

Polar bears playing in the water during a rainstorm in Kaktovik. September 6, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A polar bear mom and her cubs exploring the tundra in Kaktovik. September 7, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Fox kits playing on a Mat-su road. July 13, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Bull moose sparring in Powerline Pass during the rut, or mating season. October 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A bull moose resting in Powerline Pass during the rut, or mating season. October 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A Mallard duck at Potter Marsh on Friday, May 4, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Trumpeter swans depart Potter Marsh for warmer climes. September 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A Sandhill Crane landing at Pyrah's U-Pick in Butte. Aug 17, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Polar bear wave, Kaktovik. September 7, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Polar bears congregate at the carcass of a bowhead whale on the beach in Kaktovik. September 7, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

Ask anyone planning a trip to Alaska what they are most looking forward to and wildlife viewing is likely to be high on their list. Big game hunters have their "big five" African animals, and Alaska has its own big five: Moose, caribou, dall sheep, wolves and grizzly bears.

It's not just the big five that leave their impression on us. From a fox kit crossing the road to a pair of swans landing on a lake, Alaska is full of moments that leave a lasting impression.

You don't have to go far to experience great wildlife. In Chugach State Park, on Anchorage's east edge, it's not uncommon to find moose and bear, and uncommon though not completely absent, wolverine and wolves. South from town lies Potter Marsh, a prime bird-viewing area where arctic terns and swans are frequently seen.

Of course, traveling around Alaska can offer amazing wildlife viewing opportunities not available in Anchorage. In Denali National Park and Preserve, there are great opportunities for seeing any or all of the big five. In Southeast and Southcentral, whales, mountain goats and black bears. Southwest, walruses and seals. And in the far north, polar bears.