Alaska 2012

Katmai National Park



Katmai National Park is known for two primary things:  the bears at Brooks Camp and the volcanic activity, including a large eruption that occurred in 1912.  The normal way to get to the park is via a flight from Anchorage to King Salmon, followed by a float plane flight from King Salmon to Brooks Camp.  The float plane takes off from the Naknek River in King Salmon and lands in Naknek Lake in the park, dropping us off on the beach at Brooks Camp.  Brooks Camp contains a visitor center, a campground, and a lodge, as well as trails to platforms for bear viewing, the primary one being at Brooks Falls, where bears gather to catch salmon as they swim upstream toward Lake Brooks.  The bears have the right of way in this area, if a bear is on a trail the rangers close the trail until the bear moves off.  The viewing platforms provide a place where the bears can't get to (doors kept closed keep them off).

In order to explore the volcanic history of the park, we took the bus tour that travels the only road in the park to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.  This valley is covered in a deep layer of volcanic ash from the 1912 eruption.  The valley is no longer "smoking", but is still incredible with the barren ash visible for miles, and rivers and creeks cutting deep canyons in the ash.  The "smokes" were not actually coming directly from volcanic activity, but from water beneath the hot ash turning to steam and venting upward.

Monday and Tuesday:  Brooks Camp


Float plane in King Salmon, Brooks Camp sign on beach


Float plane at Brooks Camp, Mama bear and three cubs, bear in the river


Campsite at Brooks Camp, bear fishing, viewing platform walkway at Brooks Falls


More bears


Door to the electric fence surrounding the campground (bear deterrent), bear on the move trying to catch salmon

Wednesday:  Valley of 10,000 Smokes and back at Brooks Camp


Bus for our tour, views of the ash and one of the canyons in the Valley of 10,000 Smokes


Stubborn bear walking in the road (our bus had to follow him for over an hour), bear with salmon scraps, more bears!


Troublemaker bear near the falls, young bald eagle watching bears in the river, Brooks Lodge cabins

Watch for the jumping salmon and feasting bear



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