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Visiting Katmai National Park – How to Plan a Trip?

Visiting Katmai National Park and Preserve is one of the most exciting adventures in Alaska. Brooks Falls in Katmai is famous for the brown bears that fish for salmon here. It is one of the best places in the world for bear-watching. But getting to Katmai is a real challenge, as you can’t drive there. So, how to get there? How to plan a perfect visit to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes? What is the cheapest way to get to Katmai National Park? Where to stay, when to go, and what to pack? Please read our detailed Guide to Visiting Katmai National Park for a fantastic trip!

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Visiting Katmai National Park & Preserve
Table of Contents show

Visiting Katmai National Park – Introduction

We have been to Alaska several times, and it still delights us. One of our favorite places to visit in Alaska and the most exciting national parks we have seen is Katmai National Park and Preserve. We love wildlife photography and have seen bears in several countries. But the bear-watching experience we had in Katmai was the best for us. This National Park is unique and one of the best for bear viewing.

In this step-by-step article, you’ll learn how to plan the perfect trip to Katmai National Park on your own. Also, we will tell you how to proceed so that the trip to Katmai does not ruin your budget because it is an expensive place to visit. Check and use the Table of Contents for more straightforward navigation when looking for answers to specific questions, such as how to get to Katmai National Park, where to stay, and how much it costs. You will learn a time limit for bear viewing from the Brooks Falls Platform. We tell you all important things to know before visiting Katmai National Park, whether bear-watching in Katmai is worthwhile, and more.

Our Pick

Brooks Falls Bear Experience from Homer

If you are late with booking a stay in Katmai on your own (as there are limits), consider this floatplane tour from Homer to Brooks Falls to watch brown bears when they catch salmon.

Why visiting Katmai National Park should be on your Alaska itinerary?

If you love wildlife and dream of seeing bears in their natural habitat, visiting Katmai National Park should be on your Alaska itinerary. Katmai is home to over 2,200 brown bears. Due to the small area of the park, you have a 100% chance of seeing bears if you go on a trip to Katmai between June and September. Moreover, you can also see the bears fishing for salmon at the famous Brooks Falls, a breathtaking spectacle of nature.

TRIP TIP: We also invite you to read a few more articles from our series on Katmai: 13 best things to do in Katmai, besides bear-watching, and The Best Alaska Bear Viewing Places with a detailed review of our trip to Katmai.
Check out also our article: Lake Clark Bear Viewing Tour Review and The Best Homer Bear Viewing Tours in 2023, as it’s the easiest option to get to Katmai from Homer.

Visiting Katmai National Park & Preserve

Where is Katmai National Park & Preserve?

Katmai National Park and Preserve is located in southwestern Alaska, on the Alaska Peninsula, across from Kodiak Island, southwest of Homer. It is about 290 air miles southwest of Anchorage. The park headquarters is nearby King Salmon, about 30 air miles from the park. You cannot drive to Katmai National Park because there is no road access. You can learn more about how to get there below.

Katmai National Park Map

On the official website of Katmai National Park, you can find several maps. They are detailed enough if you plan to visit the park for a day or a few without backcountry through the wilderness. You can download them from the park’s website to your device. We strongly recommend two maps for Downland: Brooks Camp, which shows you the Brooks Camp and Brooks River area in detail. And Classic Map of Katmai National Park and Preserve, which comes directly from the official brochure of Katmai. Download maps before your trip because there is no internet or telephone coverage in the Katmai area. Also, you can pick up a paper map of the main attractions and points of interest at the Visitor Center when you land at Brooks Camp.

However, if you are planning more challenging hikes and backcountry camping, pick up National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated map of Katmai National Park and Wilderness. This expertly researched map covers not only all of Katmai National Park and Wilderness but also neighboring Katmai National Preserve, Becharof National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness, McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge, and Shelikof Strait with unparalleled detail. Inset maps provide additional detail on the Alagnak Wild River and Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

How to get to Katmai National Park?

There are no roads connecting the Katmai National Park to the Alaskan mainland road system, so you can’t drive to Katmai. You can get there by plane, boat, or mix those two. But also read the accommodation points below to help you decide which type of trip to choose.

TIP: Before the trip to Katmai, check the park’s official website regarding the park’s current status and possible alerts.

Regular Flight to King Salmon & then Float Plane to Katmai

This is how we went about organizing our trip to Katmai National Park ourselves. We booked a scheduled flight from Anchorage to King Salmon. Alaska Airlines offers reasonable prices and connections. Depending on your dates and when you decide to book your trip, you can find a connection for as low as $199 – $400 one way for the 2023 high season, so a great price. Book your flight asap to get the best price. Ravn/PenAir also offers flights to Katmai.
From King Salmon, we had a Katmai Air seaplane to Brooks Camp and the famous Brooks Falls in Katmai. The float plane costs $450 per person round trip in 2023. But check the official website of Katmai Air for current rates.

Thus, the cheapest option for a return flight to Katmai for one person (assuming you manage to buy tickets so cheaply) is $848. Flights alone. You have to change planes from plane to plane, which in case of bad weather, can cause long delays or flight cancellations (this happened to us twice on this route, more on that later). But the biggest problem is the accommodation, which should be booked months in advance. Otherwise, you can choose a 1-day trip to Brooks Falls from Homer. But more on that later, and in our separate article about Brooks Falls bear viewing from Homer.

Katmai Air

Regular Flight to King Salmon & then Water Taxi to Katmai

Katmai Water Taxi Services is the official water transportation option to Brooks Falls and Katmai National Park, available from June 1 through September 25. You will be transferred from the airport to the National Park Service dock upon arrival in King Salmon. You will board the state-of-the-art watercraft for your ride across scenic Naknek Lake. The trip to Katmai takes approx. 45 min.
The water cab departs the King Salmon pier every odd hour starting at 7 a.m., with the last departure at 8 p.m. in June and July and 6 p.m. in August and September. The water taxi returns from Brooks Camp every hour starting at 8 a.m., with the last departure at 8 p.m. in June and July and 6 p.m. in August and September, as long as seats are occupied. Travel insurance is strongly recommended. Check reservation details and cancelation policies, as we have no experience with this service. The cost from King Salmon to Katmai was $330 round trip.

Float Plane or Water Taxi? Which transport from King Salmon to Katmai is better?

It depends on your budget, time, and needs. Read the conditions of both carriers carefully and make a decision. We chose Katmai Air’s seaplane and were delighted with this trip. It was short (20 minutes, and with beautiful views). The only con of the float plane was the weight of the luggage. Because of that, we couldn’t pack food for the camping as our photo equipment was quite heavy.
It is certainly worth considering taking a water taxi:

  • If you are looking for the cheapest way to get to Katmai National Park. It was a $330 Round Trip Water Taxi Ticket per person, including a shuttle from the King Salmon Airport (AKN) or a lodge within King Salmon. But the price difference is minimal. The seaplane flight was not much more expensive ($350 round-trip).
  • If you have large and heavy baggage. Since seaplanes have very limited weight and balancing ability, it is difficult to pack. It might be challenging to pack if you plan to spend a few nights at the campground and bring food and photo equipment. We ate buffet-style meals at Brooks Lodge. We did not have weights to pack camping food since we had a tripod, heavy cameras, and lenses. The meals were delicious but were also costly.
  • Water taxis are canceled less frequently due to the weather. Even if there is fog, it will flow to Katmai. Unfortunately, it happens that planes are canceled due to bad weather conditions. This happened to us twice, which we described in the article about how we got stuck at King Salmon.
Visiting Katmai National Park & Preserve

Direct Taxi Flight / Charter from Anchorage to Katmai

Numerous taxi flights offer direct flights to Katmai National Park. The price for a direct flight is, of course, higher. One such company is Katmai Air, which provides a $1350 roundtrip per person (tax included) from Anchorage to Katmai.

It’s also possible to take a taxi flight from Homer or Kodiak.

Katmai Day Trip

You can visit Katmai in a day from Anchorage, Homer, or King Salmon to see the brown bears catching salom in famous Brooks Falls. If you only have one day to visit Katmai National Park, the cheapest and best way to get to Katmai is a day trip from Anchorage or Homer. You can choose Katmai Air for this adventure from Anchorage, which costs $1350 roundtrip per person (in 2023). Or, if you are in the Homer Spit area, you can choose this one-day Brooks Falls Self-Guided Bear Watching Tour Flight from Homer. It’s operated by Emerald Air Service, and costs $1,584.70 roundtrip per person. More about it, we write in the article the best Homer Bear Viewing.
Details you will find in a few chapters below.

Trip Tip: Plan a trip to Homer? Check out our detailed article: 27 top things to do in Homer and Homer Spit.

Where to stay in Katmai?

Visiting Katmai National Park is a challenge due to the limited number of accommodations in the park. Well, booking an overnight stay in this park is much more complicated than getting to it. So if you dream of staying in Katmai for a night – booking lodging should be your first step in planning this trip.

Brooks Lodge

What is Brooks Lodge?

Brooks Lodge at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park is one of the best-known lodges in the national parks. It is also the main lodge where you can stay in Katmai if you are lucky enough to win the lottery. It also offers a dining room where meals are served buffet style and a gift store. In addition, there is a cozy, large, round fireplace in the main building where you can spend the evening with other guests and a bar where you can buy Alaskan beer or a glass of wine.

The guest rooms consist of sixteen modern bedrooms. All rooms have the same interior layout with 2 sets of bunk beds that can accommodate up to 4 people.

Brooks Falls

Brooks Lodge Lottery

Due to the limited spaces at Brooks Lodge and the high demand, there is a lottery to get an overnight stay here! And it’s a lottery you need to prepare for over a year before you plan to visit. Getting a spot at Brooks Lodge is comparable to winning a permit to see Arizona’s famous Havasu Creek Waterfalls or winning the lottery for a hike to The Wave – the incredible rock formation on the Arizona-Utah border.

How huge is the demand for a night in Brooks Lodge? Although we published this article in the second half of 2022, no spaces left at Brooks Lodge for 2023. The lottery for 2023 was held in December 2021!

So if you plan a trip to Alaska in 2024 – you still have a chance. Applications for the 2024 Brooks Lodge Lottery will be available on this page beginning December 1, 2022. So, get ready. Read all the rules on the official website before December 1, 2022.

Don’t give up if you don’t win the lottery to Brooks Lodge. You still have a chance to get a place for a night, as they have a waiting list. There will probably even be accommodation available in the 2023 season. Sometimes, due to unfortunate events, someone has to cancel their stay. If your trip allows you a little flexibility, you might be able to secure a room. If someone cancels the trip – rooms will be available. Contact the Brooks Lodge, call, and check for cancellations. Maybe you can get a space at Brooks Loge this way. Check Reservation & Cancellation Policies.

How much does it cost to stay at Brooks Lodge?

The Brooks Lodge guest accommodation consists of sixteen rooms, each with its own bathroom. All rooms have the same layout with 2 bunk beds that accommodate up to four guests.

The rate for a room in 2022 was $850.00 per night. The maximum occupancy for a room is 4 people. Rates are per room per night and do not include the additional 6% bed tax. Check the official website for next season’s rates.

Katmai National Park

Camping at Brooks Camp

We stayed three nights at the campground at Brooks Camp. Thanks to this we saved a lot of money and had a fantastic adventure. However, the demand for Brooks Camp campground is exceptionally high during peak bear viewing season from late June to mid-September. So, make your reservations months ahead, the best at the beginning of January. It has a 60-person capacity, so reservations go out in a flash.

If you do not manage to book a camp, do not give up. Follow the reservation page or contact the campsite. It happens that someone cancels the reservation, and then there is a chance to get a place. That’s how we managed to book a spot at the campground at Brooks Falls – someone canceled the reservation, and we took it.

If you are spending the night at the campsite, you need to know that there is no electricity. Put charged batteries in the camera, pack extra batteries, and pack a headlamp. If you discharge the gear, the only place you can find a power outlet is the lobby of Brooks Lodge.

Visiting Katmai National Park

How much does it cost to stay at Brooks Camp Campground?

According to the official website, the Brooks Camp Campground costs $12 per person per night from June 1 through September 17 and $6 per person per night in May and September 18 through October 31. So, as you can see, you can save a lot of money by staying in a tent.

Is it safe to stay at Brooks Camp Campground?

We have been asked many times if it is safe to stay at the campground at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park. Were we afraid to sleep in a tent if Katmai is home to more than 2,000 bears?

Yes, staying in a tent in Katmai is safe if you follow all the rules of the campsite and the park. An electric fence secures Brooks Camp Campground and deters bears from entering the campground without impeding the view of Naknek Lake. However, before reserving a spot, please read the Brooks Campground Regulations on the park website.

Other Lodging Options in Katmai National Park

Unfortunately, you don’t have much to choose from other accommodations in Katmai, especially if your visit focuses on bear-watching in Brooks Falls and the Brooks Camp.

There are Battle River Wilderness Retreat, Enchanted Lake Lodge, Katmai Wilderness Lodge, Kulik Lodge, and Royal Wolf Lodge. But they have located a considerable distance from Brooks Camp. Details about these places you can read on the park’s official website.

You can also stay overnight in King Salmon, the closest hamlet to the Katmai National Park. We’ve had the chance to get stuck in King Salmon twice. However, we didn’t plan it. We described our stay there and some tips for you in the article Killing time, not salmon, in King Salmon.

Visiting Katmai National Park

Where to eat at Katmai National Park & Preserve?

You don’t have many options when it comes to eating in Katmai.

Brooks Lodge Buffet

Food can be purchased by guests staying at Brooks Lodge as well as guests staying at the campground. If you are on a day trip, you can also visit the buffet when it is time for lunch and open. You can also buy cocktails at the lodge bar in the afternoon and evening. The prices for a meal per adult are:
Breakfast – $17.00
Lunch – $24.00
Dinner – $40.00

The food at the Brooks Lodge buffet was of excellent quality and delicious. All the produce and meals were fresh and tasted perfect. We did not expect such tasty food in this remote location. The service was also very professional and friendly. Great, high level. We highly recommend trying the salmon from Brooks River for dinner. When you feel their excellent taste, you will understand why bears catch them 😉 Also, check the current rates on their website.

Eating at Camping at Brooks Camp

While staying at the campground, you can pack camping food and prepare it in designated areas. There are covered cooking areas at the Brooks Camp campground: Each has a picnic table for outdoor cooking and eating. No eating, drinking, or cooking should be done outside the cooking shelters. There is also a cache for food and equipment storage and a fuel storage locker.

If your budget is limited, plan to have at least one meal (lunch or dinner) at Brooks Lodge. Ask when the salmon will be served. It was delicious, and all the meals at the buffet were perfect. We highly recommend at least one meal at the Brooks Lodge buffet.

Katmai National Park

How much does it cost to go to Katmai National Park & Preserve?

We have listed the prices of various options for your stay in Katmai. However, it is not a cheap park to visit, but well worth the money and the effort. You can spend at least $1000 per person on a trip to Katmai. But you can spend up to several thousand dollars per person if you stay at Brooks Lodge and take other activities in the park, which we describe in the article 13 Best Things to do in Katmai National Park.

Below is a list of the various activities available in Katmai and their prices in 2022. For a description and tips on organizing each attraction, see The Best Things to Do in Katmai National Park article.

Activity in Katmai National Park Approximate Cost in 2023
Regular flight from Anchorage to King Salmon$199-400 one-way ticket (depends on the date of purchase of the ticket)
Float plane from King Salmon to Brooks Camp in Katmai NP$450 per person (round trip)
Water taxi from King Salmon to Brooks Camp in Katmai NP$330 per person (round trip)
A one-day trip from Anchorage or Homer to Katmai NP$1350 - 1600 per person
Cabin at Brooks Camp for 1 night, the maximum occupancy for a room is four people(check the details above about the lottery to get the place)$850 per night per cabin (plus the additional 6% bed tax)
Brooks Camp Campground (booking months in advance)$12 per person per night
Breakfast at Brooks Lodge Buffet$17 per person
Lunch at Brooks Lodge Buffet$24 per person
Dinner at Brooks Lodge Buffet$40 per person
Bottle of wine at Brooks Lodge $40
A beer at Brooks Lodge$10
Showers for campers$7
Katmai Flightseeing Tour (one hour)$260 per person
Trip to The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes$96.00 per person
Fly Fishing $90.00 - $475 per person ((depending on how many people and how long)
Kayak or Canoe Rental $15 - $65 ((depending on how many people and how long)

What is the cheapest way to get to Katmai National Park?

The cheapest way to reach Katmai National Park is by scheduled flight from Anchorage to King Salmon and then by floatplane from King Salmon to Katmai, where you will stay at a campground with your own meals.

A charter flight offered by Katmai Air from Anchorage to Katmai also seems affordable if you stay at a campground. Also, the day tour provided from Anchorage or Homer are one of the cheapest ways to reach Katmai National Park.

TRIP TIP: Regardless of which mode of transportation and airline you select, remember that Alaska weather is unpredictable. Your flight to/from Katmai may be canceled if the weather is bad. So it pays to be a little flexible when planning a trip to Katmai and having at least a day or two to spare. Check how we stuck in King Salmon.

What is the best time to visit Katmai National Park?

Katmai National Park & Preserve is open year-round. But at Brooks Camp, Brooks Lodge, and Camping at Brooks Camp and other services are available only from June 1 through September 17. So, it is the best time for your visit. Also is the best time for bear viewing at Brooks Falls, especially in July and September, when you can admire many bears in Katmai. Most activities and attractions are also available only in summer. Check our list of the best things to do in Katmai.

How many days do you need in Katmai National Park?

Even one day will be enough for a trip to Katmai. But it is optimal to stay there for at least 2 nights and 3 days to take advantage of the other activities that Katmai offers, which we have described in a separate article.

Brooks Falls

Is it worth taking the Katmai National Park one-day trip?

Visiting Katmai National Park is well worth the time and money, even as a one-day trip from Homer or Anchorage. If you fail the Brooks Lodge Lottery to stay in a park overnight or have limited time and budget for your holiday in Alaska, take a Katmai National Park day trip. But you should book it a few months before the planned travel date, as day trips are popular because of the savings on accommodation and food in the park. Visitors on a one-day trip usually arrive at Katmai at 10 a.m. The flight back is around 4 p.m. Read more in our post the best Homer Bear Viewing options in 2023.

During our several road trips in Alaska, we met many people who spent only 1 day in this park (including professional wildlife photographers). During the one-day trip, they had enough time to observe bears in their natural environment and take great photos. Getting good images from the viewing platforms at Brooks Falls is easy.

But the most popular bear-viewing platform – the Falls Platform, has a limited capacity of 40 people. When the Falls Platform is at full capacity, the rangers will maintain a waiting list, and anyone on the platform may only be on the Falls Platform for one hour at a time. This system helps ensure equal access to the Falls platform on busy days. If you visit Brooks Camp in July, expect crowded conditions at Brooks Falls. However, there are two other platforms with no limit of people.

If you plan a Katmai day trip, we recommend Day Tours to Brooks Falls from Anchorage by Katmai Air or from Homer by Emerald Air Service. They are professional teams with the most experience in this part of Alaska. We flew with Katmai Air from King Salmon to Katmai and returned after a few days with their services. The flights and service are very professional. And most important – if they have to cancel a day trip due to bad weather, they offer full refunds or new dates (depending on availability) for the flights.

TRIP TIP: See our Bear Viewing in Alaska article for more pictures from Katmai and recommendations for different bear-watching tours in Alaska. We recommend several places we have been to or will visit on our next trip. Yes, we love Alaska so much that we are already planning 5th trip.

Is Katmai bear viewing worth it?

Absolutely. There are many places in Alaska where you can observe bears. In our article Bear Viewing Alaska – Eye to Eye with a Brown Bear, we have described these opportunities in more detail.
But Katmai is unique because you can admire bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls. The backdrop of the falls is breathtaking, making your photos and experiences priceless. More our pictures from bears in Katmai you can see in the mentioned article as well.

Visiting Katmai National Park
Brooks Falls at Katmai National Park

Essential Things & Tips to Know Before Visiting Katmai National Park

What are Brooks Falls Platforms?

Brooks Falls Platforms are the bear viewing platforms. It is the most popular location in Katmai National Park. These are viewing platforms with excellent views of Brooks Falls and Brooks River, from which you can watch the bear from a safe distance. In Katmai National Park, there are three viewing platforms at Brooks Camp. They are along the south side of the Brooks River:

  • The Falls Platform is adjacent to Brooks Falls (the most famous and crowded).
  • The Riffles Platform is about 100 yards (91 m) downstream from Brooks Falls.
  • The Lower River Platform is at the mouth of the Brooks River near Brooks Lodge.

Between June 15 and August 15, people cannot approach within 100 yards of Brooks Falls to protect the bears’ space and human safety.

How to get to Brooks Falls Platform?

It is 1.2 miles (1.9 km) in one direction from the visitor center to Brooks Falls and Riffles Platform.

Is there a time limit for bear viewing from Brooks Platforms?

The most famous two-tiered Falls Platform is located next to Brooks Falls. Due to limited space, it has a capacity of 40 people. When the platform is at maximum capacity, the rangers maintain a waiting list, and everyone is only allowed on the Falls Platform for one hour. After one hour of viewing, visitors can add their names to the waitlist again. Waiting times for access to the Falls Platform in July often exceed 1.5 hours.

The Riffles Platform, located just downstream from Brooks Falls, has no maximum capacity or waiting list. Bears frequently fish the lower half of the Brooks River, especially sows with cubs, where there is less competition from more dominant bears.

TRIP TIP: If you stay overnight at Brooks Lodge or the campground, you don’t have to worry about the crowds. Come to Brooks Falls in the morning between 7 and 10 am before one-day tourists arrive. Tours depart back around 4 pm. Then after 4 pm, the platforms are empty again.

Is a tripod allowed at Brooks Falls Platform?

Expanded tripods and rail-mounted fixtures are prohibited on the Brooks Falls Platform from June 15 to August 15. Tripods may be used in a monopod configuration if the legs fully collapse to the center position and the unit is not self-supporting. Since we were in Katmai at the end of August, we could use our tripods because there were no more crowds.

What are the opening hours of the Brooks Platforms?

The Falls Platform, adjacent Treehouse area (which is covered, has limited seating and some interpretive displays but offers no direct views of the river), and the Riffles Platform are closed from 10 pm to 7 am from June 15 to August 15.

What is a Fat Bear Week?

The bears in Katmai fish and eat salmon to stock up on fat for the winter as they prepare to hibernate. Each brown bear in Katmai has a number and often a nickname. Fat Week Bear is a contest where you can vote for the fattest bear of the year! Some of the largest brown bears in the world live on the Brooks River in Katmai National Park.
Fat Bear Week was held in 2022 from October 5-11. The winner is Bear 747, and we did not get a chance to see this bear during our visit. But we did encounter many other fat and impressive brown bears. For identification details and the biography of each bear participating in the Fat Bear Week contest, visit the official website.

Cellular service and Wi-Fi at Katmai

There is no Wi-Fi or cell phone service available in most Katmai National Park & Preserve. Also, the Brooks Lodge does not have Wi-Fi or phone service available.

Charge the batteries in the camera and phone

Make sure you have charged batteries in your camera. Pack extra batteries. Get spare memory cards. Also, charge your phone if you use it for photos. It’s best to turn on your phone’s flight mode. There is no range at all in the park, so there is no point in discharging your phone. Thanks to the flight mode, it will not try to search for the network, and it will not discharge so quickly.


Drones are not permitted to be flown within US National Park Service Sites.

Entrance Fee

There is no entrance fee while visiting Katmai National Park.


Pets are allowed only in the Katmai backcountry, but must be under physical control at all times. Between May 1 and October 31, pets and service animals are not allowed in the Brooks Camp Developed Area (BCDA), which is located within 1.5 miles of the Brooks Falls Platform. Transporting your dog may be at an additional cost, so make sure you can take pet to Katmai in advance. We didn’t see any dog in the park during our three days stay.

Water Bottle

You should know that plastic water bottles are not sold at Katmai. There is drinking water that you can fill your own reusable bottle in. So do not forget to pack a water bottle for your trip.


Mosquitoes and midges can be a pain while visiting Katmai National Park, as it is surrounded by water, the area is wet. You will spend a lot of time on the river, where mosquitoes can be annoying. So pack the insect repellent. In Alaska, DEET 40% worked best for us.

What to pack for a trip to Katmai National Park?

Visiting Katmai National Park requires special preparation because if you fly a float plane, you will have a strictly defined baggage weight. Even in midsummer, the mornings and evenings in Alaska are cool. Sudden weather changes are regular, so be prepared for a windy, rainy day. Dress in layers. What you should pack depends on how many days you plan to spend in Katmai National Park, whether you are staying in a tent or Brooks Falls, and whether you plan to do other activities in the park besides bear viewing. Long pants and a windproof sweatshirt or jacket work well. Bring shoes with a good soles that you can walk comfortably in. A raincoat is also handy. Check out our detailed Alaska Packing List to prepare for your trip. It is the result of our 4 road trips in Alaska.

Is Katmai National Park handicapped accessible?

It is important to emphasize that bear viewing in Katmai National Park is handicapped accessible. Accessible facilities are located primarily at Brooks Camp. The trail to the viewing platforms (Brooks Falls Trail), from which you can safely observe bears, is short, easy, and suitable for people with disabilities, including wheelchair users. However, assistance may be required for those with limited mobility.

The problem is getting to Katmai, as entry to seaplane is challenging. It is worth considering an organized trip to Katmai. The float planes are small and very tight and not very comfortable. It can be challenging for a person with limited mobility to get on and off the plane. But before you make a decision, contact the organizers and ask if they will organize a trip for a person with a disability.

All bear viewing platforms in Katmai National Park are accessible. These platforms are located 0.25 miles (0.4 km) to 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from Brooks Camp Visitor Center. Trails to Brooks Falls and Riffle’s platforms are also accessible.

Most Alaskan best places for bear viewing require hiking over more challenging terrain. As for Katmai National Park, it should be emphasized that it is a well-prepared place to make the dream of viewing bears come true for a person with a disability.

Katmai bear

Is it possible to rent water gear while visiting Katmai National Park?

Yes, it’s possible at Katmai Trending Post. You can rent a canoe, kayak, fishing rods and reels, chest waders, single-burner stoves, and more. Check their website.

Bear Safty at Katmai National Park & Preserve

Visiting Katmai National Park requires extraordinary self-care. You are in the land of bears. This is their home, and you are only a guest. So please respect all the bear’s house rules. You will be safe in this bear country by following the basic rules.

First, read the bear safety rules on the park website. Second, upon arrival at the park, attend an informational talk with a ranger (mandatory). Listen carefully to what the ranger says in Katmai National Park and follow all the rules throughout your stay. Third, since we have some experience with bear viewing in different parts of Alaska after four trips, you may want to review the bear safety tips in our trip planning section of our detailed Alaska travel guide. And fourth, remember to pack your bear spray (but make sure your carrier allows you to pack bear spray in your bag, as we couldn’t pack it during our trip, as it was not allowed by airlines).

Finally, thousands of delicious, healthy, high-fat salmon swim in the Katmai River and Brooks Falls, so the brown bears in Katmai National Park do not want to eat you. Just stay out of their way, keep your distance, be careful and behave responsibly by following the park rules. Enjoy your trip to Katmai!

Brooks Falls

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  1. Wow! This is one of those experiences I’ve only dreamed of. I’ve seen plenty of wildlife documentaries depicting bears fishing for salmon, but I didn’t realize there was an opportunity to see it for myself in Katmai National Park. Glad to hear the water taxis are available to get there. (Sea plans make me a bit nauseous…). I would love to do this trip and capture some amazing photos (like yours)! I’m not sure I would feel safe sleeping in the park with all those bears, either – but I would be perfectly happy splurging on accommodations at Brooks Lodge. It’s pricey, but hey, this is a once in a lifetime trip, so why not? What a great adventure!

  2. Wow – fantastic pictures! Katmai National Park is definitely a must-see (for me) on a future trip to Alaska! It think it is totally worth the hassle of early bookings and the expensive transport. We would stay at the campground as you did and cook our own food to keep costs as low as possible. And see as much wildlife as possible!

  3. Seeing the brown bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls would definitely be a reason for me to plan a visit to Katmai National Park. With over 2000 bears I am sure we would get some amazing other bear experiences. After reading that need expensive flights to get to Katmai, I can see why this is an expensive trip. But then the flights would be part of the adventure for me. The day trip option is not only expensive but would not be long enough to really enjoy this spot! But then I read about how hard it was to get a room at the Brooks Lodge. This post will definitely be saved for planning.

  4. I have never done bear-watching before. You make me want to visit Katmai National Park for just that. Those are some amazing tips to help save money on the trip to Alaska. It is interesting to know that they do not sell water battles in the area. I guess, it is better for the environment and cheaper, too.

  5. Watching bears so close and see them hunting for fish is so exciting. I think it is worth the effort put in to get there. The accommodation options at Brooks Lodge look super good, a bit pricey though. The plan to get there will need a some saving up for a good budget.
    You got some great action shots of the bear.

  6. ALASKA is definitely one of THE places to visit for me as a part of my bucket list! Katmai National park seems like a must-visit place for bear-watching. Some really cool pictures you were able to capture. Enjoyed reading your post.

  7. I’m just blown away – by your guide and most of all by your pictures. How close did you get to those cute teddy bears ;-)? On the one hand, I find the sight totally fascinating, on the other hand, I would probably faint. Alaska is one of the places very high on my list – however, I’m hesitant since it’s said to be very expensive. But after this post….I’m setting up a piggy – or beary – bank for that purpose 🙂

  8. This would be a photographer’s dream. But wow what a lot of money to spend just to get there. I guess it’s worth it, though, to get photos like you did. The scenery must be amazing as well. Alaska is definitely on my bucket list.

  9. I’ve never heard of Katmai Park but it looks wonderful. Your photos of the bears are wonderful and it’s nice to see them in their natural habitat. I would try camping here!

  10. Alaska is a beautiful place to explore and visiting Katmai National Park is worth it to see Brown bears fishing for salmon at Brook falls. It’s strange that one has to win a lottery to stay at Brooke’s lodge, but it’s also nice to know that there are other options few miles away. Also nice to learn there are also camping options available at Brooke’s camp with safety from bears.
    I think I would prefer taking the cheapest flight from Anchorage to King salmon and further down to Katmai via a floatplane.

  11. Ooh! Camping there sounds so fun! I’ve never even heard of Katmai National Park, but I’d love to visit. I’ve never seen the bears in person with salmon, but it’s on my bucket list to see it.

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