2.5 days in Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park is one of the best National Parks in the whole US system. What a gorgeous place with varied scenery and activities like fishing, hiking, bear watching, etc. Katmai National Park is a great place to come with friends or family. It’s an easy place to spend a few days although it’s a bit complicated to get to. Here’s what I did in 2.5 days in Katmai National Park.

2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, King Salmon

King Salmon from above


As I mentioned, getting to Katmai National Park is a bit of a hassle although that’s part of what makes it cool. We took a Pen Air small jet from Anchorage to a remote little town called King Salmon. Yes it’s really called King Salmon and if you end up with some time there, head to Eddie’s for food and wifi-it’s the only place in town for both! There’s absolutely no cell phone data in the town.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Pen Air

Pen Air flight from Anchorage to King Salmon


In order to get your Katmai Air flight to Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park, you need to get picked up at the main airport by shuttle for Katmai Air. Whoever arranges your trip should know to set this up but if you do it yourself be sure to alert them of your arrival time in King Salmon so they know to get you.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Katmai Air, sea plane

Katmai Air Sea Plane


The Katmai Air “terminal” is on the bay. The seaplane takes about 20 minutes to get to Brooks Camp; which is the main visitor center and lodge in Katmai National Park. It’s actually a really cool place to spend a few days and very crowded in summer with loads of interesting people. We even met a couple that was celebrating visiting every US National Park. This is something I am trying to do as well so I found it really fun to chat with them!
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Brooks Camp

Arrival at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park


First off, there is no cell phone service at all at Brooks Camp and no wifi either. I was not prepared for this and was offline for 2.5 days. Of course, once you arrive, you forget about the world but it would have been nice to know for planning purposes-so now you all know ahead of time!
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Brooks Camp, antlers

The view across the bay on a clear-ish day from Brooks Camp


Also, food is pretty good but expensive at Brooks Camp and in Alaska in general. They offer full buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the dinner buffet costing $35 per person. There are cheaper options for soup and salad only. Soft drinks and alcoholic drinks cost extra.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Brooks Camp, lodges

Cabins at Brooks Camp


The main reason that Brooks Camp is where it is in Katmai National Park is because it is right next Brooks Falls. This is the epicenter for the famous salmon run. We’ve all seen it, the one where the bear sits in the water waiting for the salmon to jump into their mouths. This is where that takes place.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Brooks Falls

Brooks Falls on our last day


90% of photos you’ve ever seen of that event happen here in Katmai National Park! The best time to go to see this is in July and August. I was there in late June for the beginning of the season but it was still very cool!
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, bear, Brooks Falls

A bear walking into Brooks Falls to fish


I literally sat there for hours watching the brown bears at the falls. It was fascinating and adorable and even scary at times. Aside from the novelty of jumping salmon and massive bears in a great setting, it was fun watching the power struggle between the bears. Brown bears are not social animals and feel constantly threatened by other bears.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, bears, Brooks Falls

Multiple bears in Brooks Falls


At times, we saw as many as 4 bears in or around the falls at a given time but if the dominant male was in the water, a look would chase off the others. We saw a younger bear get a salmon on one side of the falls while the dominant male was on the other side. The smaller bear took the salmon and ran as fast as possible out of the river and up a hill with his salmon to eat! Whereas the old dog would just eat his right there and wait for more! It was really funny.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, bear, Brooks Falls

Bear near Brooks Falls waiting for his opportunity to fish


There are 3 different viewing platforms to watch the bears. There are 2 at Brooks Falls themselves and one other closer to camp by the bridge. These are the only safe places to view bears. The rest of the time you are out in the wilderness and can run into a bear at any time.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, brown bears

Brown Bears hanging out


The park rangers advise talking to alert the bears that you’re there so they don’t get spooked and attack. If you’re walking alone I advise playing your iPod music out loud so they hear you.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, brown bear

Brown Bear right under the viewing platform


Each night in the lodge, someone had a story about being confronted by a bear and it was always funny to hear how they reacted. As you probably know, you’re not supposed to scream or make sudden movements. However, everyone runs by instinct, as I am sure I would! Luckily, I was never face to face with one!
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, feet, lodge

Feet up at the lodge listening to stories from the day


The other thing that Katmai National Park is famous for and the reason it became a National Park in the first place is the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Who knew that the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century took place in 1912 in Alaska?
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Valley of 10000 Smokes

Valley of 10,000 Smokes visitor center


The reason nobody knows is that hardly anyone lived in Alaska in 1912. Plus the Titanic sank just after and took 100% of the headlines. But ash from the Mount Katmai eruption was found as far away as Africa!
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Valley of 10000 Smokes, bus

Bus to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes


From Brooks Camp, it’s about an hours bus drive across 3 river crossings to the Visitor Center at the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. There is a great viewpoint and a small museum there. It’s a 1.5-mile hike down to the river descending about 1000 feet.
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Valley of 10000 Smokes, waterfall hike

At the bottom of the Valley waterfall hike


At the bottom there are 2 paths to take. One takes you to a waterfall and the other to the confluence of the river. Both are beautiful and the scenery is off the charts with the volcanic ash landscape. It’s a moderate hike and getting up can suck for older people but if you take your time, it’s not that bad and well worth it!
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, Valley of 10000 Smokes, waterfall

The waterfall


So whether your thing is wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, history, National Park ticking or just meeting like minded people; you can do it all in Katmai National Park! Katmai National Park is one of the best I’ve been to and if you’re thinking of coming up to Alaska, this should be top of your list of things to see!
2.5 days in Katmai National Park, Katmai Naional Park, Alaska, National Park, bears

Bears in our camp walking along the beach


Disclaimer: My trip to Katmai National Park was done in partnership with the Alaskan Tourism Board.

Comments

  1. This has long been on my bucket list to see the Bears eating the salmon. Thanks for the photos and good advice on how to do it!

  2. Incredible photos! Must have been an amazing trip!

  3. Alaska has always been on the top of my list as well but can never just seem to make the time. I always end up going somewhere warm or Europe. One of these days!

  4. I’ve never heard of this park but it looks and sounds incredible. thanks as always for showing us places we would never know about even in our own country.????

  5. Jen Gaskill Colbert says:

    Great tips! I’m flying there on Monday for 5 days. Can’t wait!

  6. So many bears! I love to see bears in their natural environment, if only you could cuddle with them, it’ll be perfect!

Speak Your Mind

*

css.php