Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park was the highlight of our trip to Alaska. It was also the most exciting experience of my lifetime...one aspect I truly hope never occurs again!
This is really a double endorsement. To get to Brooks Falls it involves a 3 hour ride in a float plane. Some aircraft are faster than others. Book on the fastest airplane. We chose Rust's Flying Services Airlines which has been around furever! Their pilot was outstanding in that he took us over different topography in each direction. It felt like we could reach out and touch the mountain tops! It's a 12 hour adventure into wilderness.
Bears were sunbathing on the beach as our float plane taxied onto the sand. We then had to get to the park ranger's briefing cabin. We did have a plentiful box lunch - then all food was removed from our person. Unfortunately our park ranger who had a captive audience, liked to hear herself talk. This cut into our very expensive bear viewing time. This was actually July 2010. So don't waste any of your precious minutes, especially if you are not over-nighting. If we did it again, I think we'd spend the night sporting insect repellent and hat and facial nets! The tour that allows you to get into the water with the bears would be something to consider for a future trip.
Hopefully you'll get past the bears that fish around the lower bridge. Park rangers are there to tell you if it is safe to proceed or not. You are then walking through the same woods that the bears inhabit. I believe it's about a gentle mile uphill. When you enter the secured raised walkway platform area, give your name immediately to the park ranger. Depending on the number of people waiting to access the two-tiered viewing platform, they will allot you perhaps an hour.
After that don't miss the lower platform where you can spend as much time as you have left. I feel I got some of my best photography shots from there.
We had been told that often the bears are sleeping in the grass after a salmon feast. What we had not anticipated was the bears not hearing us. Crash boom snap! We whirled around to see what on earth was making so much noise. Two huge brown bears stood towering over us not 8 ft. away! I suggested that we back off the path to give them room to get by, provided they didn't stop for a nibble. Bears are smart. Why tromp through the woods when you have these lovely cleared paths? Well one took the path and the other ran around us. I could have touched his fur as he chose to throttled past us. Hindsight is brilliant. If you are only two people, I strongly urge you to walk with other people and sing very loudly! And yes, I would risk it again. Brooks Falls is the premier location for admiring big beautiful bears! To observe these bears in nature is a lifetime golden memory.
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