Remotely located in Southwestern Alaska near Kodiak Island, Katmai National Park is one of the foremost places to see Alaskan brown bears, which come to feast on summer salmon runs. Covering more than 4 million acres, the park has one of the largest populations of brown bears in the world. There are 15 different volcanoes to explore, some of which are still active and releasing steam. In fact, the park was established to preserve the area round Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes after volcanic activity devastated the land in the early 1900s.
Hiking, kayaking, and canoeing among the crystal-clear waters are coming activities here, and bear-watching is best at the park’s Brooks River Falls. The many wild rivers and lakes not only draw bears but also sport fisherman, both of which are after the area’s five varieties of Pacific salmon as well as pike, rainbow trout, and Arctic char. The park’s location provides access to some of North America’s most remote wilderness.
Katmai is open year-round, but facilities at its main hub Brooks Camp are only available during summer months. Entrance to the park is free, though camping and lodging fees are $5 and $10 respectively. For extended visits, special arrangements must be made, as Katmai not connected by any major roads. Most reach the area by floatplane. Day trips can be arranged from Kodiak, Homer and Anchorage.
Address: Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA
Hours: Park open year-round, facilities open summer only
Surrounded by trees, mountains and volcanoes — all reflected in turquoise water — and with only subarctic wildlife to keep you company, Lake Clark is Alaskan wilderness at its best. Waterfalls, glaciers, rivers teeming with Sockeye salmon, and the largest lake in the state make this one of Alaska’s most scenic places. Kayaking and fishing on calm Lake Clark are highlights for many, as well as brown bear spotting at the park’s Silver Salmon Creek and Chinitna Bay. The Tanalian trails network helps hikers get to some of the park’s best natural spots.
The park’s geography ranges from mountain ranges to tundra to rainforest, creating habitats for a diverse amount of wildlife. Visitors to the park may encounter wolves, moose, caribou, dozens of species of fish, and of course, Alaskan brown bears. Parts of the park run along the coastline, opening up even more wildlife encounter opportunities.
Lake Clark National Park is located 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. According to the National Park Service, access to Lake Clark is limited to floatplanes and small aircraft as there are no major roads leading to the area. There are no fees for park entrance nor permits required for backpacking or camping.