In Alaska Travelgram by scott

A hungry bear at Brooks River Falls prepares to feast on fresh salmon. Photo courtesy Alaska Bear Trips

BEARS! Lots of people want to see Alaska’s bears at the world-famous Brooks River Falls in Katmai National Park.  There are a couple of ways to do it:

1. Watch the webcam at These folks have several cameras set up to track the bears in their quest for migrating red salmon. I call it a “gateway drug” to get you prepped to see these giant beasts in person!

2. Fly nonstop from Anchorage’s Lake Hood floatplane base directly to Brooks Camp with Alaska Bear Trips.

Bears catching salmon at Brooks River Falls in Katmai National Park. Photo by Christy McMurren

We picked Door #2 and flew out from Anchorage’s Lake Hood.

“Six-Mike-Alpha” parked at the beach at Brooks Camp. Photo: Scott McMurren

Alaska Bear Trips has a tricked-out Cessna 208 Caravan specifically outfitted for daytrips to Brooks Camp. Nice leather seats. Ample legroom (even for me, at 6’5”). 

Flying over the edge of Lake Iliamna on our way to Brooks Camp.

You don’t need a lot of luggage, since you’re just going for the day. There’s only room for a maximum of nine travelers per trip.

Mt. Iliamna. Up close.

Leave around 10 a.m. for the 90-minute flight to Brooks Camp. Depending on the weather, you’re likely to fly by a couple of active volcanoes. Yes, you can see the steam!!

There are lots of fish in the Brooks River!

On arrival, everyone has to go to “Bear School”, run by the National Park Service. The bears are more interested in fishing for salmon, but it’s not uncommon to see them wandering through camp. So Bear School is essential—as you need to know how to behave when you come nose-to-nose with a bear, or its cub…or both.

NOTE: you don’t need to worry about this if you chose option #1 and just wanna lay back and watch webcam footage on your laptop!!

After Bear School, our pilot/guide, Curtis, sets up our lunch in the outside dining area…surrounded by wire fence! Sandwiches, cookies, chips, soda…the works.

Afterwards—we set out to the falls, about a mile away. NO FOOD is permitted on the trail.

Mama Bear and cub venture out in search of food.

You’re likely to see bears fishing in the river from the boardwalk, but the biggest concentration is up at the falls, where the fish seem to leap into the mouths of the waiting bears!!

The National Park Service has two viewing platforms. They limit the number of people on each one so everyone has a chance for an up-close-and-personal look at these giant brown bears. It’s fascinating to watch them fish for the salmon—and then rip them apart and eat them before your very eyes!

After everyone has had a good look at the bears and snapped 1,000 photos, we head back to the plane. If there’s time, Curtis may take you up to a cultural site where you can see how the indigenous people lived before in years past. You’ll also learn about the giant Novarupta Volcano in 1912, that covered the area in 13 feet of ash.

Cost for the one-day bear viewing excursion is $1,280 per person. There is a 20 percent discount for Alaska residents. Call Isaac at (907)306-1105. Tell him I sent you. 

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