Katmai National Park & Preserve is home to more than 2,000 brown bears which makes the area one of the most outstanding bear viewing destinations in the world. Visitors come from around the globe each summer to feast their eyes on the ursine feeding frenzy at the legendary Brooks Falls, just a short walk away from our own Brooks Lodge on the Brooks River. During peak sockeye salmon season, it’s not uncommon to see as many as fifty bears along the Brooks River showing off their considerable fishing skills and fattening themselves up for winter. Mature bears can weigh upwards to 900 pounds!
Bears generally mate in May, June and July, and cubs–sometimes as many as four to a sow–are born mid-winter, weighing only a pound. Cubs stay with mama bears for two years or so before venturing out on their own. Male bears, or boars, don’t participate in raising their young. Katmai’s bears hibernate in their dens from November to April. Besides Brooks Falls, bears are also seen in backcountry locations throughout the park and the greater Bristol Bay area as well. Look for them feeding wherever sedges, clams, and salmon are present.
While bear populations around the world are in decline, the National Park Service aims to preserve Katmai’s pristine natural bear habitat. All visitors get brief bear safety trainings, as rangers, scientists, and lay people work together to respect and nurture the delicate balance between these amazing creatures and humans.