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Katmai National Park & Preserve - Alaska

Glaciers, fumaroles, and great fishing

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The Alaska Peninsula extends 400 miles (880 km) into the Pacific Ocean, jutting toward the Aleutian island chain. At the head of the peninsula is Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, a spectacular setting of mountains, high glaciers and an extremely rugged sea coast. King Salmon is the headquarters for and the nearest community to the splendid Katmai National Park and Preserve, a wild, primitive landscape. Here one of the most violent volcanic eruptions took place -- in 1912 -- with serious effects for Mt. Katmai.

The communities of Dillingham, King Salmon, and Iliamma are serviced by airlines from Anchorage. The three villages are in the midst of great fishing steams and lakes, and there are a number of fly-in fishing lodges in the area.

The vocanic eruption began on June 5 of 1912, with shuddering, and black ash rising from the 9,000 foot peak, and then the volcanic vent called Novarupta blew open the next day with a blast which was heard in Juneau -- 750 miles away. The ash traveled so far that some fell in Vancouver, B.C. All of North America was affected by the clouds of ash which cooled temperatures considerably that summer. Mt. Katmai had collapsed into itself, and 2,000 feet of mountain had disappeared. Ash devastated the area in every direction, and thousands of fumaroles vented sulfurous steam.

This is an elemental landscape, where thousands of fumaroles belched steam and smoke (now just steam) -- the remnants of the Novarupta explosion. The fumerole valley, a prime place to visit and to hike, is named the Valley of the Ten Thousand Smokes. Other features of the park include hundreds of glaciers, snow fields clinging to the many mountain peaks, and lakes (Lake Nanek, the fourth-largest lake in Alaska has been called an "inland sea"). You can walk through birch groves at the lower levels of the park, and up to alpine tundra and to the edge of ice fields. There are many species of birds in the park, and campers get very excited when hearing the fervent calls that Alaskan birds seem to give.

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The Park Service Visitor Center in the area organizes guided walks of the "Valley of the Ten Thousand Smokes," or you can take a hiking tour on your own with guidance from the staff of the visitor center.

Brooks Camp is the famed place to watch brown bears catching salmon in the rushing stream and waterfall. Brooks Lodge, with overnight accommodation and food service, plus a campground are located at Brooks Camp (see special note below). Two bear viewing platforms less than a half mile from the park visitors center. The park also offers daily guided walks and evening lectures and slide shows. You may also wish to fly to other lodges in the interior of the park. Some of the best sockeye salmon fishing in the world is experienced at Brooks Camp and on interior streams of Katmai National Park

The park also offers daily guided walks and evening lectures and slide shows.

Camping is available at the national park campground, which is surrounded by an electric fence to discourage bears. It has showers and bathroom. Reservations are necessary; (907) 246-3305

How to Get There

Visitors to the park usually fly by scheduled aircraft to King Salmon, and then take an air taxi operated by Peninsula Airways to Brooks River, where there is a National Park ranger station. Some people charter their own planes to get into Katmai. For information on the park, write the National Parks Service, P.O. Box 7, King Salmon, AK 99613, or phone (907) 246-3305.

Katmai National Park and Preserve, (907) 246-3305, is about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage. Reservations for Brooks Lodge, inside the park, should be booked as far ahead as possible especially for July and September, the choice bear-watching months. The daily park user fee is $10 a person. For more information on the park, go to

Alaska Airlines, (800) 426-0333, and PenAir, (800) 448-4226, operate several flights a day in the summer from Anchorage to King Salmon, about 30 miles from the park. C-Air, (907) 246-6318, is one of several charter companies that operate float planes between King Salmon and the park. The park is inaccessible by road.

Things to Do

Camping costs $5 a night at the national park campground, which is surrounded by an electric fence to discourage bears. It has showers and bathroom. Reservations are necessary; (907) 246-3305.

Fishing guides operating out of Brooks Lodge charge $200 a person, including a boat but no gear; call (907) 243-5448 or (800) 544-0551.

A van transports visitors from Brooks Camp to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. The 23-mile guided trip leaves daily at 9 a.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m. Reservations are a must; (907) 243-5448 or (800) 544-0551. The cost is $72 a person; a boxed lunch (also a must since there is nowhere to buy food there) is $7 extra.

Brooks Lodge

Mailing Address: 4700 Airport Drive, Anchorage AK 99501
(907) 243-5448 or 800-544-0551

Katmailand Inc. operates Brooks Lodge, Grosvenor Camp, and Kulic Lodge. All are summer operations, accessible by air -- normally from the town of King Salmon, a 280-mile flight from Anchorage. Bush planes will take you into the park and Brooks Camp. Brooks Lodge is famous for its bear-watching and fishing. People usually take the two-night, three-day package, which includes air transportation from Anchorage. Grosvenor Camp and Kulic Lodge are the places for really dedicated anglers to stay, located next to some of the best salmon fishing streams in the world.

in King Salmon:

Quinnat Landing Hotel is a modern two-story building with 48 rooms with baths, comparable to moderately priced motel chains. Nightly summer rates are $257.40 with tax for single, $284.80 for a double, $312.40 for three, and $339.90 for four. For information, call (800) 770-3474, or fax (907) 246-6200

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