Katmai Bears– Trip Report by Michael Wald
Bears of the Katmai Coast July 6- 10 , 2012
Katmai National Park in southwest Alaska has some of the biggest brown bears in Alaska, and with rich salmon streams, sedge meadows and clam beds to feed the bruins, Katmai has more bears than almost any other place in the world. People flock from around the globe to watch and photograph bears in Katmai at places like Brooks Falls and Halo Bay. But Arctic Wild takes you to the wild and quiet parts of Alaska’s parks. For the past couple years we have spent a week in July on a Pacific beach in Katmai that provides superb bear viewing, solitude, and great hiking. Each day of the trip is filled with adventure and activity but the real joy of the trip is in simply living amongst the bears.
We set up our weather-worthy camp in the flower covered sand dunes, in an area that the bears don’t often transit, but with a commanding view of the volcano, beach and river mouth. Even if we never left camp, the trip would be satisfying; at each low tide, the bears move from the meadows out onto the beach and scavenge along the tide line. On my last trip to Katmai we saw bears feeding on fish, crabs and even a beach-cast seal all within sight of our camp. When the tide rises, the bears move inland and we can watch them placidly grazing from the dunes behind camp. The vibrant colors of the wildflowers and the glacier cloaked volcanoes make a great background for photographing the bears.
Big, beautiful bears are definitely the highlight of the trip, but Katmai’s coast has so much else to offer. There is a glacier within a days’ walk of camp that you can sometimes hear cracking right from camp. There is beach combing, tide-pooling, and wildflowers galore. There are sea caves, waterfalls, smoking volcanoes, fish-filled ponds, cliffs, tide flats, and seemingly endless rolling tundra. There is no end to the exploration and hiking that we could do in the area.
If you are interested in watching bears in a safe yet truly wild environment, far from the crowds, come camp on Katmai’s coast with us for a week next summer. Read more…. or see some more pictures from our Bears of Katmai National Park trips.