Alaska is home to some of the world’s most remote and beautiful national parks. One of the most popular is the 4-million-acre Katmai National Park and Preserve.
You start your adventure flying in by small plane, since there are no roads to drive in on. The flight itself is around 90 minutes, and there’s plenty of amazing scenery to see on the way in.
The prime attractions of Katmai are its many brown bears and salmon. The best place to see them is at Brooks Falls. Every year, salmon come here from July to early September to jump the 1.8-meter-high falls and swim against the fast waters to Brooks Lake to spawn. And every year, brown bears wait at the top of the falls to catch the jumping fish and eat their fill. You can be part of this — and take some awesome photos — by gathering at a viewing platform overlooking the falls. It’s one of nature’s most inspiring sights.
Take a bus along the national park’s only road to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. It was given the name when the Novarupta volcano erupted in 1912, filling the valley with smoky ash. The ash has long gone, but has left an imposing mark. You can hike to the lava field, but it’s tough!
Of course, many will want to see the valley from the air. There are many “flightseeing” tours that provide majestic views of the park.
If you’re a kayaker and you relish the challenge, then try the four-to-10-day Savonoski Loop. There’s no better way to let the beauty of Katmai get into your bones.
Fishers can also get their gear and try sport fishing. But watch out — the bears have the same idea! (T)