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Katmai National Park

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Alaska Katmai National Park

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Introduction

Katmai National Park and Preserve is a United States National Park and Preserve in southern Alaska, notable for the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and for its Alaskan brown bears. The park and preserve covers 16,564.09 km2, being roughly the size of Wales. Most of this is a designated wilderness area in the national park where all hunting is banned, including over 1,587,000 ha of land. The area was first designated a national monument in 1918 to protect the area around the major 1912 volcanic eruption of Novarupta. The park includes as many as 18 individual volcanoes, seven of which have been active since 1900.

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Geography

The park is named after Mount Katmai, its centerpiece stratovolcano. Katmai occupies the Pacific Ocean side of the Alaska Peninsula, opposite Kodiak Island on the Shelikof Strait. The park's chief features are its coast, the Aleutian Range with a chain of fifteen volcanic mountains across the coastal southeastern part of the park, and a series of large lakes in the flatter western part of the park.
The park includes McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge on Kamishak Bay. The Alagnak River, designated a wild river, originates within the preserve at Kukaklek Lake. The Naknek River, which empties into Bristol Bay, originates within the park. The park adjoins Becharof National Wildlife Refuge to the south. Of the park and preserve's acres, 1,587,391 ha are in the national park where all sport and subsistence hunting is prohibited. 169,380 ha are preserve lands, where both sport and subsistence hunting are permitted. The most commonly hunted species in the preserve include grizzly bear, which has led to some problems about bear hunting due to small preserve population sizes and stalking bears to close limits

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Sights and Activities

  • Backcountry Hiking and Camping - From the lowland tundra of Bristol Bay to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and the rugged Pacific Coast, Katmai is wide open for exploration.
  • Bear Watching - Bears are everywhere in Katmai. Few places on earth have as many bears as Katmai or offer comparable bear viewing opportunities.
  • Sport-fishing - Before Katmai was known for bear viewing activities, most visitors came to the park for its world-renown sport-fishing opportunities. Trophy rainbow trout are found in many lakes and streams as well as grayling and dolly varden. Strong seasonal runs of salmon are also found in particular areas of the park, including both sockeye (red) and coho (silver) salmon.
  • Boating
  • Flightseeing

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Opening Hours

The park and preserve are open year-round. At Brooks Camp, National Park Service and concessioner services are offered from June 1 through September 17. Prime bear viewing months at Brooks Camp are July and September, although a few bears may be in the area at any time between late May and December. Bear viewing in coastal areas is possible during June through August. Click here for a table for best bear viewing time periods. Backcountry activities are best during June through September.

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Cost

No entrance fees are charged for Katmai National Park and Preserve. Fees are charged for camping in the Brooks Camp Campground, to stay in Fure’s Cabin, and for commercial filming.

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Getting There and Around

Unlike most national parks in the United States, Katmai is almost exclusively accessed by plane or boat. Much of this area is rarely visited and opportunities for incredible wilderness experiences abound.

By Air

Most destinations in Katmai National Park & Preserve are directly accessed via air taxi flights from Anchorage, Dillingham, Homer, King Salmon, Kodiak, and other nearby Alaska towns and villages. Prices depend on group size, type of airplane, length of flight, and where the flight originates. Air taxi operators can be helpful in determining the most efficient way to reach your destination. Regularly scheduled commercial flights to King Salmon (AKN) are available from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) via PenAir and Alaska Airlines.

Brooks Camp, the most popular destination in Katmai, is approximately 30 air miles from King Salmon. Brooks Camp can only be reached via small float plane (chartered from many of the towns and villages listed above) or boat. Katmailand Inc., the park’s concessionaire at Brooks Camp, offers seat fares on flights to and from Brooks Camp.

By Car

The park is located on the Alaska Peninsula, across from Kodiak Island, with headquarters in nearby King Salmon, about 470 kilometres southwest of Anchorage. The Alaska Peninsula Highway connects Naknek Lake near the entrance to King Salmon, continuing to the mouth of the river at Naknek. The road is not connected to the Alaska road system. Access to the park's interior is by boat on Naknek Lake. Another road runs from Brooks Camp to Three Forks, which overlooks the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The 800-kilometre-long coastline is deeply indented, running from the entrance to the Cook Inlet at Kamishak Bay south to Cape Kubugakli.

By Boat

Boats can access the Pacific coast of Katmai. Brooks Camp and other locations along the Naknek River drainage can be reached by power boat from the villages of Naknek and King Salmon.

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Sleep

Brooks Lodge (Open from June 1 until September 17), ☎ 1-800-544-0551. checkin: Katmailand, Inc. is the only National Park Service authorized concessionaire in Katmai, offering overnight accommodations, food service, and guide and transportation services based at Brooks Lodge and Grosvenor Lodge. Reservations are necessary.

Brooks Camp Campground is the only developed/improved camping area in Katmai National Park and Preserve. It is located on the shores of Naknek Lake, about a quarter mile from the Brooks Camp Visitor Center.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 8:45 on Sep 1, 15 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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