Welcome to Friends of McNeil River


The “River of Bears”.

Many of you had an opportunity to see the RIVER OF BEARS this winter at the UAA Planetarium in Anchorage, but for those that couldn’t because they live on other parts of the globe and are still enthusiastic about the McNeil River of Bears we ask your help:

RIVER OF BEARS is a stunning visual exploration of the McNeil River bears and the viewing program that has made McNeil one of the best wildlife watching experiences in the world.  Produced by the University of Alaska Anchorage and Open Lens Productions, the film has been a huge hit at the UAA Planetarium and the Anchorage museum.  But because the film can only be shown on a planetarium screen, it is not currently available to a wide audience.  Read more below

To make RIVER OF BEARS widely available to fans of McNeil River and bear aficionados all over the world, Open Lens Productions is transforming the planetarium film into a DVD version.  This transformation from the fulldome (planetarium) format to a regular screen is a complicated and expensive production.  But we feel strongly that wildlife films like this are a great way to help people understand why it is important to preserve and protect special places like McNeil.

Right now, we need your help to fund this important project.  Please visit our online campaign (with spectacular footage of the McNeil bears) and consider making a contribution: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/river-of-bears.  This is a great way to pre-order a DVD, or you can choose to receive other McNeil gifts.  Everyone who donates will be thanked on the RIVER OF BEARS website.  5% of all contributions will go to support FOMR, and we will also be giving FOMR 100 copies of the RIVER OF BEARS DVD.  

McNeilRiverBearsFriends of McNeil River is proud to have provided a financial grant to assist in the educational production of the Planetarium version of the River of Bears. We hope you get a chance to view it and can help us make it available to a larger audience. Thank you.


Photo: River of Bears creative team Jonathan VanBallenberghe and Travis Rector. Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage

Article: By  | January 13, 2014 – 5:15 pm

UAA Planetarium Offers Unique Look Into McNeil Bear Sanctuary

If you are lucky enough to get a permit, the McNeil River Sanctuary in Southwest Alaska offers an opportunity to safely get up close and personal with the largest congregation of brown bears in the world. Read more >>

“McNeil has a lottery system and at its peak, the odds are about 1 in 10 for getting in,” says Rector. “So there are a lot of people who want to go, but don’t get to go. What our planetarium can do is give you an immersive video experience and the sensation of being there.” 

Read full article here >>