When most people envision Katmai, they think of bears. Katmai is one of the premier brown bear viewing areas in the world. About 2,200 brown bears are estimated to inhabit the park, and more bears than people are estimated to live on the Alaska Peninsula.
At Brooks Camp, brown bears congregate to feed on sockeye salmon in the Brooks River. While bears can be seen throughout the Brooks Camp area, there are four viewing platforms. 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 North and South Platforms are located at the mouth of the Brooks River on either side of the elevated bridge. These wildlife viewing platforms offer safe and spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities while minimizing our potential impact on the bears. The Falls Platform has limited capacity and rangers maintain a system to help provide equal access during peak visitation days. If you visit Brooks Camp in July, expect crowded conditions at Brooks Falls.
As many bear populations around the world decline, Katmai provides some of the few remaining unaltered habitats for these amazing creatures. At Katmai, scientists are able to study bears in their natural habitat, visitors are able to enjoy unparalleled viewing opportunities, and the bears are able to continue their life cycle largely undisturbed.
Nurturing this relationship between people and bears is the key to Katmai's success as a bear-viewing destination. Rangers, scientists, and the public work together to maintaining this fragile balance. It is important that all who visit Katmai respect bears and are armed with the knowledge to stay safe in bear country. By recognizing the needs of the bears and giving them space, each of us plays a role in keeping bears wild.
Last updated: March 18, 2021