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Katmai National Park was established in 1918 to protect the region around Mount Katmai after the devastating eruption of the Novarupta Volcano in 1912. Today it remains an active volcanic landscape, but is also an important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears that feed on them.

Sockeye salmon run the Brooks River in July, and again from late-August to mid-September, at which times brown bears (grizzlies) can be seen in huge numbers. You can also see them (albeit fewer of them) in early August, as they wander the shoreline feeding on sedge grass and digging for clams. 

Within Katmai National Park is The Valley of 10,000 Smokes, which is lined with active volcanoes and is a fascinating landscape. It is one of the best places in the world to see the violence of volcanic eruptions and experience the raw power of nature.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: brown bear, moose, caribou, pine marten, orca
  • Where: Alaska Peninsula, Alaska

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Alaska Bear Odyssey

Combine two prime locations for seeing grizzly bears, in areas of phenomenal natural beauty. The world’s largest brown bears can be found on Kodiak Island, whilst Katmai National Park offers great opportunities to view them fishing for salmon, and here you will also find the wild volcanoes of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

  • When to go: Jun-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,195 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Brown Bears of Kodiak

View the grizzlies of Kodiak Island (the largest in the world) gorge on salmon that swim up the rivers to spawn. This small-group trip also spends some time in Katmai National Park on board a private vessel, which enables you to reach remote spots and encounter bears as they feed along the shoreline.

  • When to go: Jun-Aug
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £9,945 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Wilderness Adventure

Embark this outstanding ‘Access All Areas’ itinerary to visit Alaska’s national parks, by car, boat, plane, train and bus. Search for wolves and bears in the shadow of Mount McKinley at Denali National Park, be amazed at towering glaciers and icebergs in the Kenai Fjords, before photographing grizzlies at Brook Falls.

  • When to go: Jun-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,245 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Hallo Bay Bear Camp

This purpose-built, wilderness lodge is on the remote Pacific coast and has expert naturalist guides on hand who conduct daily wildlife activities to see the region’s brown bears fishing for salmon. The accommodation consists of five comfortable cabins with separate showers.

Recommended cruise vessel:

M/V Ursus

This converted fishing boat/research vessel sails out of Katmai, and is perfect for exploring Alaska’s pristine coastal wilderness. Accommodating just eight people in four cabins, the intimate ‘grizzly ship’ offers ample space, gourmet cuisine and shore excursions by Zodiac inflatables.