Katmai National Park & Preserve Operating Hours & Seasons

Brown bear at the Brooks Falls in Katmai Natio...

Brown bear at the Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park and Preserve 18px scanned image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katmai National Park & Preserve is open all year round, 24 hours per day. There’s no problem with roads being closed by the weather either, ‘cos there ain’t no roads!

The National Park Service and other services at Brooks Camp are only available during the summer, between the beginning of June through to mid September.

The best time for bear viewing at Brooks Camp is July and September, but there’s always the chance of spotting a few stray bears anytime between the end of May and December.

Bear viewing is best in the coastal areas from June through to August, which is also the time when most back country activities are at their peak.

Bear Viewing at Katmai National Park & Preserve

The majority of visitors at Katmai National Park & Preserve are primarily interested in seeing the bears. That’s what they come for, and even if they also want to enjoy the hiking, fishing, boating and other benefits of a trip to the park, they’d go home very disappointed if they didn’t also spot a few bears along the way.

Katmai National Park & Preserve is one of (if not the) best places to view brown bears in the world. There are more than 2000 brown bears documented to be living in the park. Most visitors to the park visit Brooks Camp where the brown bears gather to feed at Brooks Falls or other points along the Brooks River. There are various viewing platforms along the river bank where visitors can watch the bears feast on sockeye salmon with only the minimal amount of effect on the behavior of the bears, which is, after all, what we are all trying to achieve.

Viewing platforms are also provided in other areas within Katmai National Park & Preserve. The areas of Geographic Harbor and Hallo Bay are popular coastal bear viewing areas, and Funnel Creek and Moraine Creek in the preserve also attract a fair number of bear viewers. Here’s a guide to where you can expect to see the most bears during the most active months. Do remember though, bears are wild and there ain’t no guarantees.

  • Brooks Camp – where the bears gather to eat the salmon. You may see a few bears in June, many bears in July, a few in August and many again in September. During July the bears are mostly fishing at Brooks Falls, whereas by September they have dispersed in the lower river.
  • Hallo Bay – in this coastal area of the park the bears can be seen eating sedge grass and clams. Many bears generally gather here during the month of June, whereas you may see some bears during July, August and September.
  • Geographic Harbor – again in the coastal region of the park, although bears come here to catch the salmon. There may be a few bears in June, some bears in July with many bears usually present during August and a few remaining in September.
  • Swikshak Lagoon – another coastal area, this is where many bears gather to eat sedge grass during the month of June. A few bears may remain for the remainder of the summer.
  • Moraine Creek / Funnel Creek – an area within the preserve, bears can be spotted eating salmon here. There are usually a few bears during June, some more in July and many bears during the month of August. A few bears may also be viewed during the month of September.
So if you’re traveling to Katmai National Park & Preserve in the hope of doing some serious bear viewing, then you know where to go, depending on the month of your trip.

Brown bears eating clams at Hallo Bay in the month of June . . .

. . . catching salmon at Brooks Falls in July . . .

. . . and fishing for salmon at Moraine Creek in August.

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