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Alaska Bear Watching Trips In September
Are you wondering if September is a good month to go bear watching in Alaska, or where the best place to see bears in Alaska in September is? If so, we have the information you need to plan a spectacular trip full of wilderness, wildlife, and adventure!
As the summer draws to a close, the weather patterns in Alaska begin to change, bringing clouds and cooler weather. The trees begin to turn and the leaves take on rich fall colors. However, in the Kenai Peninsula, the salmon are still running. The spawning season may be winding down, but the rivers are still full - and the brown bears of Katmai National Park are still actively fishing for a tasty treat ahead of their long winter hibernation. September is a great time for Alaska Bear Watching trips!
The Brown Bears Of Katmai National Park
Katmai National Park and Preserve is home to approximately 2,200 brown bears, the highest concentration of Ursus arctos in the world. The density of brown bears in Katmai National Park is due to an abundant food supply, including salmon. Brooks Falls, in Katmai National Park, is famous for its brown bears. The bears frequent the falls, which are a part of the Brooks River, to catch salmon and bulk up for the winter.
The brown bears of Katmai National Park are active at Brooks Falls from mid-March when they emerge from hibernation to the end of October when they bed down for the winter. For much of their active period, bears are engaged in the hunt for food - to bulk up and survive another winter of denning. Typically, salmon first arrive at Brooks Falls in late June. But the salmon are still running in the late summer, making Katmai National Park and Brooks Falls the best place to see bears in Alaska in September or to plan Alaska bear watching trips.
Before you pack your bags, here are a few fun facts to get ready for your Alaska bear viewing trips at Katmai National Park and Preserve!
Brown Bears at Katmai National Park Are Really Big
The brown bears at Katmai National Park are some of the largest bears in the world. They can stand 3-5 feet at the shoulder and measure 7-10 feet in length. Most adult males weigh 600-900 pounds. Female bears are one-third the weight of male bears.
Bears Can Eat A Lot Of Fish In One Day
On days when a big school of salmon is migrating up a river, a large and dominant male bear can catch and eat more than 30 fish per day! Smaller bears that cannot compete for the best fishing spots, or bears that are less skilled at fishing, may catch and eat considerably less fish.
Brown Bears Are Picky Eaters
Okay - that's not entirely true. Bears are very smart eaters, and practice good "energy economics." That means a bear will eat the fattiest parts of the fish - the skin, brain, and eggs - to load up on calories. If a bear does this for an extended period of time, it will often ignore the other parts of the fish because it has gleaned enough calories from its catch.
Brown Bears Do Not Share Food With Other Bears
Although it may look like a dominant bear is sharing its catch with a more submissive bear, bears are not thought to feel compassion or motivation to share. If you see a bear "sharing," it most likely has simply left behind the parts of a fish it did not want and the other bear took the opportunity to have an easy meal!
Bears Do Not Reuse Their Dens
Bears are not good builders - their dens do not last more than one winter. Park rangers and biologists have noted that bear dens are partially collapsed by mid-to-late-summer, preventing reuse. Brown bears in Katmai National Park are not known to den in sites like tree cavities, rock crevasses, or caves that would be more stable. Instead, they build a new den each winter.
Packing for Alaska Bear Watching Trips In The Fall
Now that you know where the best place to see bears in Alaska in September is, you need to know what to pack for your trip! Here is a list of items you will want to consider taking on your Alaska bear watching trips:
- Lots of layers - as summer turns into fall, Alaska has cool-to-warm days with colder evenings, as well as an increase in precipitation. Layers will keep you comfortable as the temperatures fluctuate.
- A warm jacket - make sure it is roomy enough to accommodate your base layers!
- Rubber boots - you'll need traction in the wet weather, and will want to keep your feet dry.
- Waterproof shell - Alaska's cool and rainy fall weather can put a damper on your trip if you're not dressed for the outside elements.
- Hats, gloves, and scarves - again, think layers!
- Camera - you'll want to capture the amazing fall colors and wildlife that you see on your vacation, so don't forget your camera.
- Binoculars - bring Alaska's amazing wildlife into view, safely, with a pair of binoculars.
- Accessories - sunscreen, moisturizer, bug repellant, flashlight, and water bottle.
A Vacation To Remember In September
Besides brown bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve provides a protected home to moose, caribou, red fox, wolf, lynx, wolverine, river otter, mink, marten, weasel, porcupine, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, beaver, and numerous birds of prey. Most wildlife is still active in September before the weather gets colder and the days grow shorter. The advantage to fall Alaska bear watching trips is that many of the summer tourists will be gone, meaning you will have the brown bears of Katmai National Park and all of the other magnificent creatures that call the park home to yourself. Bon voyage!