Katmai National Park: 10 Must-See Highlights - AmazingPlaces.com

Katmai National Park

Rugged coastal area full of wildlife such as bears, sea otters and sea lions

Katmai National park is the ruggedness of Alaska at its best. The park contains no fewer than 15 volcanoes, of which 5 are still active, including the Katmai and the Novarupta. The coastline is 160 kilometers.

But most people come to Katmai to watch wildlife. With the brown bear at the top of their list. And you will certainly see it here. Even if you also have a chance of the wolf, for example. And the symbol of the United States; the bald eagle. You can also see animals such as sea otters and sea lions here.

Katmai National Park is located in southern Alaska and can only be reached by ship or plane. It is best known for the bears hunting salmon every year in several rivers. These are the best attractions of Katmai National Park.

Brooks Falls

Bears in Brooks Falls. ©NPS

Brooks Falls in Katmai has become world-famous for the brown bears that hunt salmon every year in the Brooks River. You can follow the bears via various viewing platforms and see the special behaviour of the animals. 

Read my tips for Brooks Falls 

Bear Watching Tours

The most popular tour is Bear Watching. Most excursions depart from Anchorage or Homer. You can go out for a day, but also for several days. This is actually a must, because then you really experience this special nature reserve.

Hallo Bay

Hallo Bay is a sandy bay in Katmai. Experts say it is one of the best places to see grizzly bears. And often more than one. The bears like to visit the bay for the grasses. You can also see them digging up and eating mussels. What is special is that the bears allow people to come remarkably close. Which is perfect for photos and video. Bear lover Timothy Treadwell was killed near Hallo Bay in 2003. Various tours are organised in this area.

Katmai Crater glaciers

A special natural phenomenon is the Candera Glaciers, or the glaciers that have formed in the craters of volcanoes. You can see this especially at the crater of the Mount Katmai volcano.

Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

The landscape of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai.

The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is a wonderful valley where the volcanic past is still clearly visible. The valley is filled with ash from an eruption that occurred from June 6, 1912, to June 8. Everywhere you can still see ashes and the remains of the mudslides that could be seen here. You can explore this wonderful valley by bus excursion.

And no, the bus excursion is not so dull. The bus runs every day from the beginning of June to mid-September. The departure point is Brooks Camp and the route is nearly 40 kilometers one way. And of course you can hop off and on at several stops. This is possible at Three Forks, among others.

It is highly recommended to go on a hike in this area. This can be done under the guidance of an experienced guide. Which also tells you countless facts about the area. Most popular is the nearly 5km Ukak Falls Trail. Bring enough water.

Kayaking in Katmai

One of the most special things to do is kayaking. The best place for that is Lake Naknek, which is located in the west of Katmai National Park. The lake is no less than 64 kilometers long. During your canoe trip, you will probably see bears walking along the bank.

Kayaking in Katmai National Park.

How to get to Katmai National Park

This park is best reached by plane. These are often small planes. These depart from Homer or Anchorage, among others. Katmai is located 460 km southwest of Anchorage and approximately 150 km southwest of Homer.

You can also reach Katmai by cruise ship. Then you have a number of excursions where you disembark to visit the area.

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