Bears Abound. Katmai National Park & Preserve
Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska is THE place in America to see grizzly bears.
Sure the brown bear is located in several places around the country (and the world) but the famous salmon run and the attraction of the bears as a result of it is one of almost made up folklore.
Seeking out an adventure to be on the bear watching platforms to see this in person is one on almost any wildlife photographers iconic must do lists. We are fortunate to share these photos on Hashtag 59 thanks to Seth B the Modern Day Explorer.
His recent visit there this summer has given us the opportunity to give you a glimpse of what life is like at Katmai National Park & Preserve.
These photos that Seth B took almost seem made up or that they are at a zoo. If the sight of raw fish being eaten by bears is not for you then we would recommend you refrain from the rest of the blog.
As always check out more from Seth B HERE!
Where is Katmai National Park located in Alaska and how do I go see this place for myself?
Yeah that’s we were thinking too when Seth shared these photos with us. Katmai is open year-round yet most of the visitors arrive between June & October. Specifically the best months to witness the Salmon Run and the brown bears gathering near the platforms are in July and September.
A flight to King Salmon, Alaska gets you close and from there you can plan out your adventure to Brooks Camp via float plane generally. There are both lodging and camping options at Brooks Camp and King Salmon. Everyone who visits Brooks Camp must attend a bear safety talk to acclimate to their surroundings.
What else can you do at Katmai National Park?
The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is located in this park. This is the site of the largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century.
There are hiking, fishing, hunting, and boating options and there is more to do than just watching the bears.
This is pure Alaska wilderness at its finest and is only for those ready to get out into nature in a raw way.
Check out some of the hiking trails available in Katmai by downloading the NPS map HERE!
Per the National Park service page:
”A landscape is alive underneath our feet, filled with creatures that remind us what it is to be wild.
Katmai was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Novarupta and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, Katmai National Park and Preserve also protects 9,000 years of human history and important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears.”
I have had a few friends go hiking in the valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and it truly has sounded to me as one of the most rugged places you could visit in the United States for a true wilderness experience. The weather could turn on you at any time, a volcano could erupt, and oh yeah of course the grizzly bears are hanging out there as well. Learn more about your adventure options HERE.
Katmai Provincial Park is home to the largest protected population of grizzly bears in the world. The population is estimated to be at 2,200 and the single most popular (and SAFE!) way to view them is through the bear watching platforms at Brooks Camp.
The only drawback to this experience is the fact that it’s a jam packed tourist destination during the peak viewing months. You may only have a limited amount of time to stand at the bear viewing platforms to ensure that other people who have come in get to see it as well.
While this is the main draw just make sure you seek out more experiences and opportunities in this National Park. It’s such a big park that it’s in between the size of New Jersey & Connecticut at four million plus acres; however most people spend their time just at Brooks Camp. In fact there are a lot of folks who just day trip in and while if that’s all the time you have you should certainly still go there is much more beyond the bear viewing platforms.
Katmai is a reminder to us that humans don’t run this world and get to choose every decision and direction of it. No matter how hard we try to do that at times or think we are the only ones in charge.
A visit to Katmai (or just even knowing that it exists) is a gentle reminder that animals & nature get a fair shake at what is going to happen to this planet. The brown bear runs the show at Katmai. We as humans are just spectators that might be fortunate enough to see these animals in a natural setting once or twice in our life.
Just remember of course these are wild animals. They will protect their turf (and their babies) and kill you if you don’t know what you are doing. We have seen some wildly unintelligent videos from this National Park of people getting way too close on purpose to brown bears.
Use extreme caution and give these beautiful animals the space they require and deserve. You are a guest in their park on a trip like this!
Enjoy a few more amazing photos from Seth B below and start planning your trip to Alaska!
It will be a trip you won’t soon forget, as I’m sure you can tell from the photos and the stories.
Thanks for reading as always and being a part of our community. Have you been to this park or do you have any questions about it? Put the comments/questions below and we’ll be sure to answer them!
Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Seth B and the Hashtag 59 Team