Brooks Falls/ Bear Viewing

Brooks Falls/ Bear Viewing 2018-03-14T17:32:44+00:00

Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, is a bucket list location for many. Like most of the places we go on our adventures, Brooks Falls is only accessible by float plane or boat, and is just a short jaunt from our lodge! Upon arrival at Brooks Camp you will be guided through a bear safety orientation by the Katmai National Park Rangers. Safety for both visitors and wildlife is their top priority.

Following the bear orientation, you will get up close and personal with the majestic Coastal Brown Bears of Alaska as they fish for salmon in the famous Brooks Falls. You will absolutely fall in love, as you watch mother bears as they teach their cubs to fish at the lower Brooks River  entrance from Naknek Lake. This is the ultimate location for novice and professional wildlife photographers alike. Bear viewing at its finest!

Truly a national treasure! The scenery you will  see is incredible, the fishing spectacular, and the wildlife viewing is unforgettable. This day trip is a definite bucket list item and a must for any Alaskan vacation!

Brooks Falls bear viewing day trips, as well as guided bear and wildlife viewing deep into the Katmai wilderness can be integrated into any of the all inclusive packages that Alaska’s Gold Creek Lodge Offers! Contact us today to plan the perfect adventure stay just for you!!!

Sample Itinerary for a 3 day/3 night  sampler package $2997 per person all inclusive, keeping in mind that you can customize each days activities to suite your wishes…..

Day 1:

  • Arrive on morning flight from Anchorage
  • Pick up at airport by Gold Creek staff
  • Check into cabin and tour lodge property
  • Depart for a day of boat fishing on the Naknek river. Fishing for salmon and rainbow trout.
  • Pack lunch on boat
  • 5 to 6 PM return to lodge
  • 7 PM delicious dinner and after dinner evening lodge activities

Day 2:

  • Breakfast
  • Depart by float plane to Brooks Falls for a day of bear viewing and exploring
  • Pack lunch or option of warm buffet lunch at Brooks Lodge
  • 5 to 6 PM return to lodge
  • 7 PM delicious dinner and after dinner evening lodge activities

Day 3:

  • Breakfast
  • Depart for back country ATV scenic tour. Your choice of wildlife viewing, photo opportunities, and /or catch and release fishing for rainbow trout, grayling, dolly varied, salmon, char. (Or option of tour/hike of  Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes,  return to Brooks Falls for additional day of bear viewing, or additional day of Naknek river fishing)
  • Lunch riverside
  • 4 PM return to lodge
  • 7 PM delicious dinner and after dinner evening lodge activities

Day 4: 

  • Breakfast
  • Depart on morning flight back to Anchorage

About Katmai National Park

Katmai was declared a national monument in 1918 to preserve the living laboratory of its cataclysmic 1912 volcanic eruption, particularly the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Since then, most surface geothermal features have cooled, but protecting brown bears has become an equally compelling charge. To protect these magnificent animals and varied habitat, the boundaries were extended over the years, and in 1980 the area was designated a national park and preserve. Katmai looms so vast that the bulk of it eludes all but a few persistent visitors. Other rivers and streams are accessible by float plane and offer a glimpse of the unseen Katmai, beyond the usual experiences of fishing Brooks River, walking up to Brooks Falls, and riding the bus out to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

The Bears

Katmai National Park’s awe-inspiring natural powers confront us most visibly in its brown bears. In summer, North America’s largest land predators gather along streams to feast on salmon runs, building weight from this wealth of protein and fat, preparing for the long winter ahead. Alaska’s brown bears and grizzlies are now considered one species. People commonly consider grizzlies to be those that live 100 miles and more inland. Browns are bigger than grizzlies thanks to their rich diet of fish. Kodiak brown bears are a different subspecies that is geographically isolated on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Mature male bears in Katmai may weigh up to 900 pounds. Mating occurs from May to mid-July, with the cubs born in dens in mid-winter. Up to four cubs may be born, at a mere pound each. Cubs stay with the mother for two years, during which time she does not reproduce. The interval between litters is usually at least three years. Brown bears dig a new den each year, entering it in November and emerging in April. About half of their lifetimes is spent in their dens. Because each bear is an individual, no one can predict exactly how a given bear will act in a given situation. These awe-inspiring bears symbolize the wildness of Katmai today.

Besides brown bear, Katmai National Park provides a protected home to moose, caribou, red fox, wolf, lynx, wolverine, river otter, mink, marten, weasel, porcupine, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, and beaver. Marine mammals include; sea lions, sea otters, and hair seals. Beluga, killer, and gray whales can also be seen along the coast of the park.

Where Can I See Bears?

A bear’s waking hours are often dominated by their search for food. Outside of their denning season, bears predictably congregate in food rich areas throughout Katmai. Some areas of Katmai National Park, like the food rich Pacific coast, support some of the highest densities of bears ever documented. Other areas of the park with little food, such as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, support only a few bears in any season. If you know what foods bears prefer to eat and when that food is most abundant, accessible, and nutritious, then you will be able to find many areas in Katmai to observe these fascinating animals.

Bear Watching at Brooks Camp

At Brooks Camp, brown bears congregate to feed on sockeye salmon in the Brooks River. Three wildlife viewing platforms along the river offer safe and spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities while minimizing our potential impact on the bears. For more information about bear watching at Brooks Camp. Give us a call at Alaska’s Gold Creek Lodge.

Other Bear Watching Destinations in Katmai

There are many, many backcountry locations that offer bear watching opportunities in season. In fact, the Pacific Coast of the park harbors some of the highest densities of bears anywhere on the planet. However, thick vegetation and rugged terrain can make seeing those bears difficult.

For many people the most rewarding backcountry bear watching locations are where bears feed on sedges, clams, and salmon. In spring and early summer, bears migrate to open meadows to feed on sedges and dig for clams on the nearby mudflats. Later in the summer and fall, bears are more easily and consistently seen along salmon streams.

Salmon Runs

A predictable eruption occurs at Katmai National Park and Preserve annually as salmon burst from the northern Pacific Ocean and into park waters. Sockeye (also known as red) salmon return from the ocean, where they have spent two or three years. Navigating first across the open ocean, and then up rivers, lakes, and streams, they return to the headwater gravel beds of their birth to deposit their own young before dying. Their size, averaging 5 to 7 pounds, varies proportionally to how long they spend feeding at sea.

The salmon run begins here in mid to late June. By July’s end a million fish may have moved from Bristol Bay into the Naknek system of lakes and rivers. Salmon stop feeding upon entering freshwater, and physiological changes lead to the distinctive red color, humped back, and elongated jaw they develop during spawning. The salmon spawn during August, September, and October. Stream bottoms must have the correct texture of loose gravel for the eggs to develop. The stream must flow freely through winter to aerate the eggs. By spring the young fish that have just hatched, called ‘fry’ or ‘juveniles’, emerge from the gravels and migrate into the larger lakes, living there two years. The salmon then migrate to sea, returning in two or three years to spawn and begin the cycle once again. Salmon provide food for the brown bears, bald eagles, rainbow trout, and directly or indirectly for the other creatures that forage along these streams. They also have been important to Katmai people for several thousand years, and commercial fishing, outside the park.

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