PRIVATE & SMALL GROUP TOURS TO THE WORLD'S BEST DESTINATIONS
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
Brooks River Falls Bear Viewing
Most Alaskan travelers make sure they have time to go bear viewing during their trip to the Last Frontier, and Katmai National Park & Preserve is one of the most popular destinations for this activity. More than 2,000 brown bears live within the park’s four million acres of remote, wild, and spectacular country. But you don’t have to venture into the backcountry wilderness to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Instead, you can fly directly from Homer to Brooks Falls in Katmai by floatplane for a bear viewing adventure! The seasonal salmon run attracts bears to the river, where it is not uncommon to see more than 50 bears at one time vying for the best spot to catch fish.
Flying From Homer To Brooks Falls
Homer has been called the gateway to Katmai National Park & Preserve because of its close proximity to the park. Katmai is easily accessible from Homer by floatplane. The flight to Brooks Falls from Homer will take about an hour and a half, during which you can enjoy breathtaking views of glaciers and snowcapped mountains as you fly above Cook Inlet. Bear, moose, and caribou can often be seen from the plane, too. Once you touch down at the park, you will be given a brief safety orientation by a park ranger to learn how to conduct yourself while exploring bear country.
Katmai National Park & Preserve is open year-round and does not require an entrance fee. From June 1 to September 17, the National Park Service operates a visitor center, ranger station, campground, and daily programming for guests. You can also find additional amenities (like meals and lodging) at Brooks Lodge through September 17. Limited visitor services may continue through September 30, but after that visitors must plan ahead for a more rustic adventure! All guests are encouraged to book their stay at Brooks Lodge well in advance of the summer tourist season. The spots at Brooks Camp get snapped up quickly, too - so plan ahead and reserve a place to pitch your tent before they are gone.
Bear Watching at Brooks Falls
Brooks River Falls bear watching is a very popular tourist activity. To make it easy (and safe) for visitors to watch the bears during salmon season, several observation platforms have been built along the river, above the falls, and at Naknek Lake. Park rangers are on hand at the platforms to guide visitors and answer questions.
Katmai, in many ways, is a wilderness park. However, Brooks Camp and Brooks Falls feature accessible facilities and trails for visitors of all abilities. The wildlife viewing platform at Brooks Camp is accessible, as are the public buildings. Those with limited mobility may need help navigating the trails (which are unpaved and can become muddy), but in general, the viewing platforms can be navigated by most visitors. It is important to remember, though, that accessible facilities and trails do not exist in other areas of the park.
A Bear Viewing Trip Packing List
You may be wondering what to pack for a trip from Homer to Brooks Falls. Comfort is king for a trip of this nature, but it’s also a good idea to pack light. If you have to pack your gear in, you’ll be happy to have less to carry! Suggested clothing items for a multi-day stay at Brooks Falls and Brooks Lodge or Camp include:
- Breathable and quick-drying expedition pants that convert into shorts. Avoid jeans – they are not good in wet weather and take too long to dry.
- Extra underwear and socks. (Trust us! Clean undergarments can improve your mood.)
- A full set of breathable long underwear.
- A second pair of heavier long underwear, especially if you are sensitive to the cold.
- Raingear, both top and bottom.
- Waterproof boots. Make sure they are comfortable to walk in.
- A few lightweight t-shirts that are quick-drying and not cotton.
- A warm but lightweight fleece jacket.
- Slip-on shoes to wear around your campsite.
Other essential items to stash in your pack include:
- Lip balm
- Insect repellant (or a cheap head net)
- A Personal first aid kit
- Motion sickness pills
- Ziploc bags or dry bags for your gear
- Your camera! (With extra batteries and memory cards)
- Binoculars (waterproof) – for your Brooks River Falls bear viewing
- A billed cap to keep the rain off your head and a winter hat to keep you warm
10 Tips For Your Alaskan Adventure
Now that we’ve gone over how to get from Homer to Brooks Falls, or from Homer to Katmai for bear viewing, and what you should pack for your adventure, it’s a good idea to go over a few general tips and tricks for traveling in Alaska. Here are 10 tips for visiting Katmai that will help you get the most out of your Brooks River Falls bear viewing expedition:
Be flexible! Outdoor adventures can be unpredictable. Whether you encounter a flight delay that is caused by weather or a “bear jam” on the trail, it’s essential to keep your cool and adapt to unexpected situations.
Pack your patience. If you’re headed to Brooks Camp during peak bear viewing season, there will be lots of tourists. While there are several bear viewing platforms at Brooks Falls, only 40 people are allowed on each platform at a time. During the July salmon runs, you may have to wait for a chance to watch the bears in action.
Be prepared! Katmai weather is notoriously tempestuous. Be prepared for rain and dress in layers. This will help you stay comfortable and dry.
Do your research. The best place to find the latest information on the park is by checking the park’s website or following it on social media.
Plan to disconnect. There is no cell service or internet connection within the park.
Download the NPS app! But do it before your visit, since the park has no cell service or internet connection. (See above.) The app can help you plan your visit so you can get the most out of it. Download content ahead of time for offline use.
Make your reservations ahead of time. Both Brooks Camp Campground and Brooks Lodge get full quickly.
Explore the backcountry. Consider a trip to the coast to see brown bears dig for clams or schedule a trip to explore the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Learn about the park’s cultural history. People have made their homes in Katmai National Park and Preserve for at least 9,000 years. Learn more about the cultural history of Katmai online and be sure to visit the cultural site at Brooks Camp in person.
Leave your furry friends at home. You may want to ruff it, but dogs are not allowed within the Brooks Camp developed area.
Make sure you plan a “buffer day” (or two) between your visit to Katmai and your flight home. That way, if your flight out of Katmai is delayed by a day or two (because of the weather), you do not have to stress about changing your return flight.
Flying from Homer to Katmai for bear viewing or Homer to Brooks Falls is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never forget! Make the most of your Brooks River Falls bear viewing trip by packing smart and keeping the tips we’ve listed for you in mind. But most of all, enjoy your bear-watching experiences in Alaska’s backcountry!