The Best Bear Viewing In Alaska

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Where Are The Best Alaska Bear Viewing Locations?

Some of the best bear viewing in Alaska can be found near Anchorage. Well-known spots like Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Lake Clark National Park, and Redoubt Bay are just a short floatplane ride from the city. Many air services specialize in tourist trips to these iconic Alaska bear viewing locations and can fly you in for either a short day trip or a longer trip at a bear camp. Just remember, the key to planning a good bear viewing trip in Alaska is timing.

Katmai National Park Bear Viewing

brown bears at brooks falls AlaskaOne of the best Alaska bear viewing locations is at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. From the moment they emerge from hibernation, the brown bears of Katmai National Park gather at Brooks Falls to fish for salmon. And visitors gather at the viewing platforms to watch the bears feed! The viewing platforms are easily accessible from Brooks Lodge and were designed to keep visitors safe while promoting some of the best bear viewing in Alaska. But why Brooks Falls? What makes this a top spot for both bears and tourists alike?

Brooks Falls is unique in that it is one of the earliest places for the salmon run in Alaska! Once the salmon begin their migration upstream to spawn, the brown bears swarm around Brooks Falls to scavenge for this tasty treat. These runs take place in late June, July, and September, making Brooks Falls one of the best Alaska bear viewing locations during the summer months.

Bear Viewing at Katmai National Park By Month

If you're curious about Katmai National Park bear viewing during the spring or fall, read on for more information!

  • April - May: Brown bears first emerge from hibernation in early April. Since the salmon run has not begun, the bears do not gather at Brooks Falls and forage for food elsewhere. In May, their search for food brings them closer to the falls in anticipation of the salmon run. However, this means that the months of April and May are not good for Katmai National Park bear viewing.
  • June - September (but not August!): June marks the beginning of the salmon run at Brooks Falls, and the brown bears of  Katmai return to feast. The salmon run reaches its peak in July, meaning that Brooks Falls has some of the best bear viewing in Alaska during this month. As the month of August draws to a close, the salmon run ends and the hunting opportunities at Brooks Falls become slim. But the bears return in September (much to the delight of visitors,) after the salmon spawn and begin to die off, providing an easy meal for these magnificent creatures before winter sets in.
  • October: In October, the bears are beginning to prepare for their winter's denning. They move away from Brooks Falls, foraging for food in other locations before their hibernation. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a brown bear if you visit Brooks Falls, but Katmai National Park bear viewing opportunities decline as winter approaches.
  • November-March: During the winter months, Katmai's brown bears are hibernating, and visitors will not have a chance to see them.
brown bears at Katmai National Park in Alaska

Other Katmai National Park Bear Viewing Locations

While Brooks Falls is one of the most popular Alaska bear viewing locations, there are several other sites within Katmai National Park where you can see brown bears! In fact, there are many backcountry locations that offer bear watching opportunities in season. The Pacific Coast of Katmai National Park harbors some of the highest densities of bears anywhere on the planet, making it one the best Alaska bear viewing locations! However, thick vegetation and rugged terrain can make seeing the bears that inhabit this remote region difficult.

Here is  a list of some of the more remote Alaska Bear Viewing Locations within Katmai National Park for the more adventurous traveler:

  • Hallo Bay - this wild, scenic, and remote coastal habitat is a good place to watch bears dig for clams on the tidal flats and catch fish in Big River and Clint’s Creek. Bear activity peaks in June.
  • Geographic Harbor - the bear population of Geographic Harbor gathers at the head of Amalik Bay in southeastern Katmai National Park to feed on berries, roots, and grasses, and to fish for salmon in the streams and rapids nearby. Bear activity peaks in August.
  • Moraine Creek/Funnel Creek - groups of Alaskan brown bears gather around Kukaklek Lake to feast on local salmon in the Moraine and Funnel creeks. Bear activity peaks in August.
  • Swikshak Lagoo - this remote coastal habitat on the eastern shore of the Alaska Peninsula in Katmai National Park is only accessible by floatplane or bot. Bear activity peaks in June.

And if you can't get to Alaska to visit the best Alaska bear viewing locations the state has to offer, don't worry - you can follow the brown bears of Brooks River online! That's right, you can watch the bears of Katmai National Park live via webcam during the summer months and catch highlights of the past season when they are hibernating. Whether in person or online, Alaska's brown bears are waiting for you!

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