Imagine a park teeming with bears and 15 volcanoes! If you feeling like going on the wild side for a bit, then the Katmai National Park located in Alaska is definitely the place for you to head. This park is over 4 million acres and is home to North America’s largest population of protected brown bears; in all about 2,000 of them.
This is a park where you may hike, kayak or canoe as well as fish in waist deep rivers of crystal clear waters. You can also watch the best fish catcher of all the Alaskan brown bear. They sometimes dive completely under water to catch their prey even sometimes catching fish in midair. After all the day’s activities you may relax in a rustic lodge on the shore and just reminisce on the day’s activities.
In 1912, Katmai, a place which was literally unheard of was on the front pages all over the world after a volcano erupted with a force ten times that of Mount St. Helens in 1980. The air was filled with ash and global temperatures cooled as acid rain burned clothing off lines in Vancouver, British Colombia and on Kodiak Island.
During a 1916 expedition, which was sponsored by National Geographic Society, botanist Robert Griggs climbed the Katmai Pass from Shelikof Strait. He wrote, “The whole valley as far as the eye could reach was full of hundreds, no thousands—literally, tens of thousands—of smokes curling up from its fissured floor.” The fumes were later deemed to be fumaroles steaming 500 to 1,000 feet in the air. Griggs named it the “Valley of ten Thousand Smokes” he was also instrumental in spearheading the campaign to include Katmai in the National Park System. Although the smokes are gone from the park today, steam vents still appear elsewhere in the park.
How To Get There
If you travel from Anchorage, scheduled jets fly the 290 miles to King Salmon. June to mid-September, daily float planes fly the last 33 miles to Brooks Camp, which is the site of a summer visitor center and the center of activity. Air charters can be arranged in other areas. You may also drive the 9 miles from King Salmon to Lake Camp, which is at the western end of the park on the Naknek River, then venture by boats to Brooks Camp and other areas of Naknek Lake.
When To Go
From June to early September there is transportation between Brooks Camp and The Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes. Lodges and cabins are open along with the campgrounds. If you are into bear watching them July is the month for you to visit. Fishing and hiking are great throughout the summer however come prepared for rain. In summer, daytime temperatures range from the mid 50’s to the mid 60’s.
Photo: Alaska Stock Images