You have probably heard of the famous Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park. It's a huge attraction for those who want to see bears feasting on salmon...especially at the famous Brooks Falls.
This location is high on so many peoples bucket lists. I'm here to tell you, you can do this for the BEST deal with Lake Clark Resort.
Lets get into it.
Lake Clark Resort is right in the middle between Anchorage and Brooks Camp. This is a huge advantage, since it is so close to Brooks, you can get there earlier than the Anchorage and Homer crowds. Plus, there is less weather to work since you are already half way there.
My husband and I flew down there with Lake Clark Resort in mid July, which is typically the busy season. However, this year was abnormally cold so the salmon run was a bit behind. Unfortunate, we know, but that's just something out of our control.
The flew in a Beaver, and the flight time was 1.5 hours. Some of the people on our flight down were going on the 10,000 Smokes Bus Tour, so we departed the resort at 6:30 in the morning and arrived at Brooks Camp at about 7:30 a.m. We were met at the beach by sleeping bears, a perfect way to start the trip!
Everyone who goes to Brooks Camp first needs to go to bear school. It's a short video presentation done by the Park service talking about bear safety and at the end, you receive a pin showing you went through bear school. This pin is important especially if you are going to be visiting Brooks multiple times during your trip. If you have the pin, you don't need to do bear school again for the rest of the season! The pins are also collectable items and change every year. This pin was actually designed by a teacher in our local school district.
One important thing to know about Brooks is that you cannot carry food with you on the trails for your safety. There are designated picnic areas that are safe to eat at as well as Brooks Lodge (it is an additional price that you pay before you get your food, we did do that for lunch this year and it was a solid 7/10. It was a busy dining room and buffet style food. Something fun to get in the middle of no where though!) You can bring water with you, but no food at all.
There are trails that lead to Brooks Falls, which is a nice little walk away from the visitors center. There are a few outhouses along the trail, which are also helpful :) . My husband and I raced first to the falls, since now there is a wait period to get onto it. I think it started in 2020. Now, they have a limit to how many people can be on the Upper Falls platform and a time frame as well. It's important to go there first in case there is a wait list, getting your name on early is important. I have heard form our guides and clients that there have been people who visit there with other carriers that don't even have the opportunity to get onto the Falls platform because the waitlist is too long. Thankfully, since we were there early, we were able to do two rounds on the Upper Falls platform before we went elsewhere. The lower falls platform has no wait list, and is also a great place to watch for bears.
It's important to be aware while walking on the trail. Which we were there, we had to get off the trail for 5 different bears. The bears always have the right away. It's important to keep talking to let the bears know you're there and to not startle them. Honestly, these bears are so comfortable with humans being there that they really don't care. Be respectful and let them have their space.
This picture below is of a bear that got on the trail from the side when Jared and I were walking and we have to back up and get into the swamp. It was defiantly a exciting experience!
But the best bear viewing just so happened to be on the elevated boardwalks. I have never seen them so active down here before! This is one of the first places you'll walk on after bear school...and it is so hard to not stop and look at the bears...but PLEASE go straight to the falls to get on that waiting list first then come back down. The bear activity didn't change at all. And as you can see, there were several people watching the bears feasting on salmon and "snorkeling" for them too from the safety of the boardwalk. We stayed here the majority of the afternoon.
We probably saw over 15 different bears while we were there, I honestly lost count. It was such a beautiful experience.
One more thing before we include all the details on how to do this trip, let's talk about what we packed for it. I wore jeans/leggings and a T shirt with a flannel and a rain jacket. I always bring a rain jacket with me just in case. I wore my Hoakas which worked great for this trip. I carried a backpack with me with my camera gear, another sweatshirt for layers, and a water bottle.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR TRIP
check out Lake Clark Resort at www.lakeclarkair.com . Click the "lodging and tours" option and check out the different packages we offer (we also do custom packages too!). You can contact us via the website to start the process and we will take it from there!
Check out the full YouTube video of the trip below!