Katmai National Park, Southwest Alaska

Approximately 260 miles southwest of Anchorage, Katmai National Park and Preserve is famous for the otherworldly volcanic landscape of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, and the nearly 2,200 brown bears that inhabit the park, making it one of the best spots for bear viewing in Alaska. Inaccessible by road, visitors typically fly from Anchorage to the town of King Salmon, then fly further on a floatplane to Brooks Camp, the park’s summer headquarters, which features a lodge, restaurant, campground, store, and equipment rentals for kayaking and trekking.

Since bears hibernate during the winter and will not eat or drink for months, the best time to visit Katmai National Park is in the summer, when the bears  emerge from hibernation and start their feeding frenzy all over again. One of the best viewing spots is the Brooks River, where several bears congregate to gorge on summer salmon runs. Bear viewing tours to the park, including one-day flightseeing and walking tours at Brooks Falls, are available from Kodiak, Homer, and Anchorage. The rangers at Brooks Camp also offer several daily guided tours of the park. In addition to bear viewing, Katmai National Park offers opportunities to raft, hike the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, camp in the backcountry, kayak the chain of lakes and rivers known as the Savonoski Loop, or explore the more remote coves and bays along the park’s coastline.


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