North America, United States
Located in the south of Alaska, Katmai National Park and Preserve is an enormous area notable for the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, the brown bear viewing opportunities and its salmon runs.
Katmai National Park is home to a number of volcanoes, including several which are still active today. It was volcanic activity in the park which first led to the area being declared a national monument in 1918. In 1912 two of the volcanoes in the area – Mount Katmai and Novarupta simultaneously erupted. The eruption of Novarupta produced a pyroclastic flow which completely covered a nearby valley with ash – in some places up to 300 feet thick! Meanwhile, Mount Katmai’s eruption caused its summit to collapse into a caldera. The deposits from the volcanoes cooled but continued to emit steam from their fissures and fumaroles which led to the name of the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes." The area was thus initially made a national monument to help to preserve its fascinating geothermal features.
Today most of the geothermal features have cooled down and the focus of the park has moved to the protection of the brown bears which reside here. To ensure the safety of these wonderful creatures, the area was designated a National Park and Preserve in 1980. With approximately 2,200 brown bears thought to inhabit in the park, Katmai is undoubtedly one of the premier brown bear viewing locations in the world. Thousands of visitors come here annually to see the bears in their natural habitat. The bears can be seen in various locations throughout Katmai National Park but one of the most popular options is Brooks Camp. Brooks Camp provides viewing platforms where visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the bears as they congregate on Brooks River to feast on salmon. Brooks Camp is one of the safest ways to see the bears and will minimise any potential negative impact of human interaction on the bears.
Brown bears may be the most sought after creature in Katmai National Park but this preserve also provides a home to many other land and marine mammals including moose, wolves, otters, caribous, sea lions and sea otters. Beluga, killer and grey whales have all been spotted along the coast of the park.
Visitors to the park in June may be able to witness one of its other highlights – the annual salmon run! From mid to late June hundreds of thousands of sockeye (also known as red) salmon burst into the park waters from the Pacific Ocean! It is estimated that by the end of July more than one million fish may have entered the park’s waters!
Accommodation is available both within the park and in its surrounding communities. The park is open year round but most visitors come from June to October when more facilities are available. The best bear viewing months at Brooks Camp are July and September but visitors may also be able to see bears from June to August at the park’s coastal areas.
|Type of Activity:||Nature|