Plants and Animals in Valdez

Flora and Fauna
A Range of Habitat

There are many plants and animals that may draw you to Valdez or you may just encounter during your visit. This is a guide to help you identify some of the popular plants and animals around Valdez.

To learn about bears check out our bear viewing page. To learn about birds check out our page on bird watching in Valdez.

Plants and Animals in Valdez, Alaska
Humpback Whale

Humpback whales enter Port Valdez around April and can stay around town through May. They can sometimes be spotted swimming right next to the cruise ship dock, even breaching close to shore. As summer moves on the whales tend to stay out in Prince William Sound and require a day cruise or boat charter to view.

Mountain Goats

Valdez has a large population of mountain goats which thrive in the coastal Chugach Mountains. They can be seen at all times of year around Valdez, but if you are planning your trip around seeing them you should visit in April or May to see many down low feeding on the fresh shoots as the snow melts.


There is a population of moose that live in the Lowe River Valley around Valdez. In summer the best chances of seeing a moose are late evening (essentially the middle of the night) out at Robe Lake. In the late night sun and midnight dusk they feed in the wetlands along the lake, typically opposite shore of the boat launch. However some times it is possible to spot them along the road on the western shore. Otherwise you do have a chance in seeing them just as you drive around.

In winter they are easiest to spot in the area coming down Thompson Pass between 24 mile and 17 mile.


There are many coyotes that live in and around Valdez. If you see a wolf or a fox on the Valdez side of Thompson Pass you're probably seeing a coyote. No matter how much you really think it's a wolf or fox you're most likely viewing a coyote. Many tourist get excited about coming to Alaska to see wolves and even excited to see a fox that they become convinced they saw one in Valdez. There are no residential wolves or foxes in Valdez, and the chances of you witness one passing through are extremely unlikely. So if you stop and think "Wow! What a magnificent wolf (or fox)!" and you're near Valdez. Remind yourself it's a coyote.

Hoary Marmots

Marmots are found from Thompson Pass all the way to the ferry terminal. Marmots are the largest species of the squirrel family. They are most easily found in Valdez during summer as they spend much of winter hibernating.


Porcupines can be found from the mountain slopes all the way to the coast around Valdez. They are active year round and often found in the brush or forest. In winter they primarily feed on the bark of trees and brush.


Beavers can be found in the fresh waters around Valdez especially the alpine lakes and streams around Thompson Pass.

Short Tailed Weasels

Short tailed weasels or otherwise known as stoats, or ermines are possible to be seen in Valdez all year long. In summer they sport a brown and tan coat which turns to white in winter. They are usually easiest to spot in town and around the Solomon Gulch Hatchery.

Arctic Ground Squirrels

Arctic ground squirrels are found throughout Thompson Pass. In summer they are very easily spotted standing upright on side of the highway or along alpine trails.

Pika Squirrels

Pikas are found on the mountain slopes of the Chugach Mountains surrounding Valdez. Most people will spot them while hiking around Thompson Pass while looking for what is making a whistling-chirp noise from a rocky area.

Sea Lions

Sea lions are big and stinky, but the look cool and are entertaining to watch. Valdez has sea lions year round. In summer when the salmon are running they spend much of their time hanging out around the Solomon Gulch Hatchery, where you can get within a few feet of sea lions at times.

Harbor Seals

Harbor seals are easily found in Port Valdez, though they don't show a lot of themselves. Harbor seals are usually seen only peaking out of the water.

Sea Otters

Sea otters are found throughout the salt waters around Valdez from Port Valdez out to the Gulf of Alaska. Sea otters can easily be viewed from the shoreline around Valdez.