• Large male brown bear at Brooks Falls

    Katmai

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Frequently Asked Questions

 
Directions and Logistics
1. Where is Katmai?
Katmai National Park & Preserve (click here for a park map) is located on the northern Alaska Peninsula, northwest of Kodiak Island and southwest of Homer, Alaska. The park’s headquarters is in King Salmon, about 290 air miles southwest of Anchorage.

2. How do I get to Katmai? Can you drive to King Salmon or Brooks Camp from Anchorage?
Unlike most national parks in the United States, Katmai is almost exclusively accessed by plane or boat. You can not drive to Katmai, Brooks Camp, or King Salmon from Anchorage, Alaska.

Most destinations in Katmai National Park & Preserve are directly accessed via air taxi flights from Anchorage, Dillingham, Homer, King Salmon, Kodiak, and other nearby Alaska towns and villages. Regularly scheduled commercial flights to King Salmon (AKN) are available from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) via PenAir and Alaska Airlines. Boats can access the Pacific coast of Katmai. Brooks Camp and other locations along the Naknek River drainage can be reached by power boat from the villages of Naknek and King Salmon. Please see Katmai’s Directions page for more information.

3. When is the park open?
The park and preserve are open year-round. At Brooks Camp, National Park Service and concessioner services are offered from June 1 through September 17.

4. How do I get names of Katmai's air taxis, bear guides, and other commercial operators?
Go to the NPS Alaska Region's commercial services webpage and there you will find a link for commercial visitor services within Katmai National Park and Preserve. That list will contain the names and contact information for air taxis, bear watching guides, and other authorized commercial services.

5. How do I get to the Pacific coast of Katmai? What can I do there?
Most people who visit the Pacific side of Katmai arrive via a chartered airplane from Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak and other nearby towns, cities, and villages. Private and chartered boats can also access many places on the coast as well.

The Pacific coast of Katmai offers a combination of amazing scenery, wilderness, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Most people who visit this area of the park go to watch bears, but there are many opportunities for sport fishing and wilderness trekking too. Go to the NPS Alaska Region's commercial services webpage for an updated list of authorized commerical visitor services.

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Brooks Camp sign.  Photo by NPS, M. Glore.

Park ranger standing in front of sign at Brooks Camp.

NPS Photo by Michael Glore.

6. Is there a fee for backcountry use or backcountry camping?
No. Backcountry areas do not have fees or facilities. No backcountry permits are required. Please visit the Backcountry Hiking and Camping pages for more information.

Brooks Camp
7. How do I get to Brooks Camp?
Most people who visit Brooks Camp fly from Anchorage to King Salmon on a commercial airline (Alaska Airlines or PenAir) and fly from King Salmon to Brooks Camp on KatmaiAir. KatmaiAir offers seat fares for trip to Brooks Camp. For current fares and to make a reservation visit Katmailand.com.

8. Where do you see bears once you're at Brooks Camp?
In July and September, bears are everywhere at Brooks Camp. They can be found walking trails, fishing in the river, and even napping on the beach. During July, many bears can be seen fishing at Brooks Falls which is about 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from the Brooks Camp Visitor Center. In September, most bears are seen at the mouth of the Brooks River. Please note that in June and August few bears, if any, can be seen at Brooks Camp. Please download the brochure, Bear Viewing at Brooks Camp, for more information.

9. Where are the wildlife viewing platforms and is there a time limit for viewing?
In the park, there are three viewing platforms located in Brooks Camp along the south side of Brooks River. The Falls Platform is located immediately adjacent to Brooks Falls, the Riffles Platform is located about 100 yards (91 m) downstream of Brooks Falls, and the Lower River Platform at the mouth of the Brooks River near Brooks Lodge.

The Falls Platform has a limited capacity of 40 people. When the Falls Platform is at maximum capacity, rangers maintain a waiting list and anyone on the platform is limited to one hour at a time on the Falls Platform. This system helps to provide equal access to the Falls Platform during peak days of visitation. If you visit Brooks Camp in July, expect crowded conditions at Brooks Falls.

10. Other than bear viewing, what else can I do at Brooks Camp?
At Brooks Camp, people can fish, hike, canoe/kayak, and tour the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. For more information on activities at Brooks Camp, click here.

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Cub pile.  Photo courtesy of S. Kim.

Three cubs at Brooks Camp

Photo courtesy of Sharon Kim

11. What lodging options are at Brooks Camp?
You can stay at Brooks Lodge or camp in the Brooks Camp Campground. For information on rates and reservations for Brooks Lodge, visit Katmailand.com. More information on the campground can be found here. Campground reservations can be made on recreation.gov.

12. How can I get to Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes?
The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is 23 miles from Brooks Camp. A daily bus tour is provided by the park concessioner, Katmailand, and is available for a fee. A ranger-naturalist provides information and will accompany you on an optional 3-mile hike into the Valley. Reservations are recommended for the bus ride and total trip time is 7-8 hours. Backcountry hikers can arrange to be dropped off by the bus at the Valley and picked up at a later date.

Bears
13. What’s the best time and season to see bears?
Although you may encounter a bear at any time, your chances of seeing bears are best when they gather to feed on seasonally concentrated food sources like salmon and sedges. Please visit Bear Watching in Katmai for more information.

14. How can I be safe in bear country?
Visit Katmai’s bear safety pages for more information.

15. Where can I find more information on Katmai’s bears?
Visit the bearcam frequently asked questions pages and be sure to join rangers for live chats.

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Hiking toward the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.  Photo courtesy of M. Glore.

Hiking toward the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Photo courtesy of Michael Glore

Other Frequently Asked Questions
16. Where can I find information on rules and regulations for Katmai?
Visit Katmai’s Laws and Policies pages.

17. I would like to work at Katmai. Where can I find information on jobs and volunteer opportunities?
Information on job announcements can be found here. Information on volunteer opportunities can be found here.

18. Do you have lost and found services?
Yes we do. Please contact us if you lost an item.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

The world's largest run of sockeye salmon occurs in Bristol Bay, Alaska each summer. Part of that salmon run move into Katmai National Park and Preserve through the Naknek and Alagnak rivers.