Alaska 2008

Flight to Katmai (Bear Viewing)
Homer, AK to Kenai, AK

91 Miles/146 Km

18 July 2008

Katmai Map

Bald Mountain Air

Katmai National Park Route Map


Destination Map

Route Information


Points of interest

Distance From





Homer, AK* Heritage RV Park Home
59.613 N
151.446 W
Ninilchik, AK*   Home
60.047 N
151.666 W
Soldotna, AK*   Home
60.486 N
151.057 W
Kenai, AK* Beluga Lookout Lodge & RV Park Home
60.552 N
151.265 W
AK Kenai Spur Highway
  Nikiski, AK          
*Fuel Available            

Photographs and Commentary
Click on pictures to enlarge

Today was all about bears. We had originally tried to get a flight to Katmai National Park on one of our full days in Homer rather than on a travel day like today. We could not find a seat for two on the air services that we contacted. We settled for the today... it was a lucky choice because we had the best weather in a week. We took off from Beluga Lake in Homer, which is home to several of the float plane services in Homer. The flight path took us across Cook Inlet to the Katmai Peninsula, past three volcanoes that have been active in recent years and then wound our way through valleys, at times flying only a few hundred feet from the mountains, to a landing on Naknek Lake.

Katmai is at the northern end of the Alaskan Peninsula and marks the end of the Alaskan Mountain Range and the beginning of the Aleutian Range. It is on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is seismically active. The largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century to place within the border of the park on June 12, 1912. Mount Novarupta released over six cubic miles of ash and plunged the island of Kodiak into three days of darkness. It was an eruption ten times more powerful than Mount St. Helens. The eruption created the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, about 25 miles from where we landed, which was named after the thousands of active fumaroles, vents spewing gasses and steam.

While I would have liked to have seen the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, we really came for the bears of Katmai. Katmai National Park has one of the largest concentrations of brown bears in Alaska. When we were in Denali, we felt lucky to have seen three of the 300 bears estimated to populate its 6.5 million acres. Katmai has many more bears in its 4.5 million acres. In June, July and August they concentrate on where this salmon are. One of these places is the Brooks River which connects Books Lake and Naknek Lake. If you have watched any of the documentaries on the brown bears shown on National Geographic or Discovery Channels, you have seen images of the bears fishing at Brooks Falls and that is where we headed to see the bears. We were barely on the ground when we had our first bear encounter. A sow with two cubs was walking through the area of the Katmai Lodge and we were forced to stay inside of a building until the rangers "convinced" the sow to move on. Generally, the bears have the right of way and people are told to move out of the way. However, in the lodge area, they tend to make noise so that the bears will leave. On other parts of the trail, it is a different story. On our way back from the falls to the beach where the planes are parked, a bear was walking on the trail near the bridge crossing the Brooks River. We were forced to wait on a viewing platform until the bear gave us some room. The rule at Katmai is to keep 50 feet away from any bear and 100 feet away from a sow with cubs. Susie and I shot over 350 pictures of bears and tried to select the best of them to post on this page. We may, after we return to New York, create a free standing page of Katmai bear pictures.

Flight to Katmai and Back

The two planes in our flight at Beluga Lake Dock

Take of from Beluga Lake

We are taking off and the other plane is taxiing for take-off
(picture by Susie)

Sister plane passing us

The other plane, fitted with a turbine engine, passed us on our way to Katmai
(picture by Susie)

Kenai Mountains

Kenai Mountains south of Homer
(picture by Susie)

Two Volcanoes

Two volcanoes, Mt Redoubt (right) and Mount Iliamna seen across Cook Inlet. Both have been recently active.

Augustine Volcano

Augustine Volcano, last active in 2006

English Harbor, Kenai Peninsula

English Harbor, on the Kenai Peninsula south of Homer

Homer Spit

Homer Spit

Sam on flight to Katmai

(picture by Susie)

Just Bears
(Few Words)

First Encounter with a bear on the trail. We waited in the bathrooms


Bear on the trail... people wait

Bears on the beach

As we waited on the beach to get on the plane, this sow and cubs walked on to the beach. We were more than 100 feet away and did not have to leave the beach. (picture by Susie)

Nutrition Facts

This is what it is all about

Waiting in the Riffles area of the Brooks River Bear and Gull waiting for scraps to come their way
It's a waiting game
Sow and cubs eating below the Falls viewing platform Sow waiting at the Falls
Sow with three spring cubs sharing a salmon at Brooks Falls. She would not leave their side for very long because larger bears may kill the cubs.

Going up a tree


Safe up a tree


Two older cubs were on the shore while their mother was fishing at the Falls. A boar was coming at them and they scrambled up a tree for safety. Mom was there in a flash and the boar left.

Bears fishing at Brooks Falls

Focus on the fish

(picture by Susie)

Get out of my space Bears fighting over a salmon... no winners
Bears fighting over fish was not an unusual occurrence. No winner in the confrontation on the right.

Bear and Gull want the fish... guess who wins

Gull wants a piece of the action

Come to Poppa Got it
This bear missed quite a few salmon before he got one
Bear eating salmon

Bear Eating Salmon


Bear eating

Bear eating

Sometimes it is better to leave the crowd to eat

Bear eating

Bear eating

(picture by Susie)

Bear eating

(picture by Susie)

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