The Bears Of Katmai National Park

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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!

Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

Winter Trips To Alaska
See The Northern Lights

Summer Trips To Alaska
Denali Discovery Adventure

Denali Adventure in Alaska Vacation
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Incredible Brooks Falls, Alaska Bear Viewing Opportunities

Bears are often seen as the ultimate symbol of the Alaskan backcountry. Powerful and primal, these magnificent creatures draw thousands of visitors to Alaska each year, all for the opportunity to see one in the wild. One of the best places to see bears is Katmai National Park. The annual salmon run brings the brown bears of Katmai to Brooks Falls, where tourists can observe the bears in their natural habitat.

Katmai National Park is one of the best bear-viewing locations in Alaska. Each July, as the annual salmon run reaches its peak, the park’s resident brown bears flock to the Brooks River to feast on the fish. The river sits a half-mile from Brooks Camp, where visitors can book a multi-night stay at Brooks Lodge. From the camp, it’s an easy walk to the river and the viewing platforms that have been built for tourists to watch the brown bears of Katmai without interfering in their daily activities.

When Is The Best Time To See Bears In Katmai National Park?

The best time to see bears at Brooks Falls is in July and September when the salmon are running and the bears are feasting! During the other summer months, the bears find food at other locations (and from other sources) in the park. Because the bears hibernate during the winter months, the summer sees bears in an almost constant feeding frenzy as they seek to store up the nutrients needed to get them through the long, cold winter.

Fun fact: did you know that brown bears and grizzly bears are the same species? However, the brown bears that can be found inland are called “grizzly” bears. The bears that live along the coast and feed on salmon are referred to as “brown bears.” The bears that you can see at Katmai are brown bears.

Looking For Bears In The Backcountry

While Brooks Falls, Alaska bear viewing is the most popular bear viewing destination at Katmai, there are many other backcountry locations throughout the park that offer visitors the opportunity to see bears in their natural habitat. In fact, the park’s Pacific coast has one of the highest documented concentrations of documented bears in the world. However, getting there and viewing the bears can be difficult, since the vegetation is so thick. If you want to see bears in the backcountry, your best bet is to hire a professional guide who knows how to find bears in the wilderness.

So, where can you find these brown bears at Katmai? Keep reading for four exciting backcountry locations you need to check out!

  • Hallo Bay – this eco-friendly camp is located on the Alaska Peninsula, just a short walk from the Pacific Ocean. The bay boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in Alaska, which is a prime bear-viewing location for visitors. Big River and Clint’s Creek produce a variety of seasonal salmon runs, and the coastal tidal flats near the beach offer other food sources for bears in the off-season. The best time to see bears at Hallo Bay is during the month of June, although these incredible creatures can be spotted all summer long. A word of warning to visitors, though: there are no public services or marked trails at Hallo Bay in order to offer the most eco-friendly, sustainable, and unspoiled wildlife viewing opportunities in Southwest Alaska!
  • Geographic Harbor – August is the best month to see the bears of Katmai National Park, especially at Geographic Harbor. This area was formed by two large bays that extend three miles off Amalik Bay on Shelikof Strait. Accessible only by floatplane, Geographic Harbor boasts a wide-open, rocky sand beach that is framed by volcanic peaks in the distance. The concentration of brown bears on the beach often surprises visitors, but the lure of salmon draws hungry bears to this location over the summer months.
  • Swikshak Lagoon – if you want a truly incredible bear-viewing experience, consider booking a guide to show you around Swikshak Lagoon. This lagoon is situated at the mouth of the Swikshak River and stretches toward the northeast coast of the Alaska Peninsula. You will have to fly in (either from an outside location or from Brooks Camp), but the June bear activity makes the trip worthwhile!
  • Moraine Creek/Funnel Creek – the salmon draw the bears to this location beginning in August, after an impressive 100-mile journey up the Alagnak River and through Kukaklek Lake. The brown bears of Katmai lie in wait for this moveable feast to arrive, often in a group, which contradicts their typically solitary natures. The creeks run through high tundra, making this location and landscape interesting for tourists, who can marvel at the glacial deposits that have built up over the years as they watch bears scooping up salmon from the creek beds.

The Best Bear Viewing In Alaska

Brooks Falls, Alaska bear viewing offers visitors some of the best bear viewing opportunities in the state. Booking a multi-night stay at Brooks Lodge means you will have plenty of time to see brown bears at Katmai from the viewing platforms at Brooks Falls. But it also offers you the opportunity to travel into the backcountry with a guide to see the bears in a truly natural setting. Choose one, or both – but expect to have a bear of an adventure in the backwoods!

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