The falls along McNeil River are considered some of the best bear viewing in the world. Photo by Dawn K. Wilson. I opened the email from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and read the words: ‘Congratulations! You have secured a permit to visit the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge.’ McNeil River State Game Sanctuary is considered by many—me included—to be one of the best bear-viewing opportunities in the world. Because of its popularity, a lottery exists to create a fair and equitable system for selecting who gets a permit to visit.