Brooks Falls Katmai National Park
Brown bears are in the area from mid-spring until October. Usually, the salmon run takes place from mid latest end of June until the end of July but can be August as well. The salmon run is not predictable. The sockeye salmon is swimming and jumping upstream to spawn before they die. Brown bear viewing is best between July and September. During the salmon run, you can spot the highest concentration of bears hunting for red salmon along the Brooks River and Falls. You may spot 20 to 50 bears along the falls. Usually, in June and August is less food is available. Anyhow, you always may spot bears just fewer.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
In July expect crowded conditions at the viewing platforms. There is a limit of 40 people watching the bears for maximum one hour controlled by rangers. September is much better with fewer tourists.
Visit in September when it's less crowded. Time of day suggestion: Stay overnight at the lodge or the campground. Then you can get to the platforms between 5 and 7 PM when the day visitors already left. Livecam: Brooks Falls Bears Livecam
In late spring, summer and early fall it's often rainy, overcast. Especially in the summer months, the weather is unpredictable. Summer temperatures range from 30˚ to 80˚ Fahrenheit (-1˚ to 27˚ Celsius). Winters are drier and colder.
Seasonal Bear Activity Overview
- Mother and Cubs and mating season – Mid-May to mid-July
- Salmon Runs – July to mid-September
- Bears Resting – Mid-September to mid-October
- Bears digging a den before November
- Bears Hibernation – November until March
- Up to four cubs are born in mid-winter
- Bear fighting – April to Early May (higher slopes)
There are 2 places to stay in Brooks Falls. The lodge and the campground. The lodge is a little pricey. The campground is around 9$ per night, but already fully booked end of January. Best shooting time is around 5 to 7 pm (after the day visitors have to take the plane back to Anchorage). At that time of the day, the viewing platform is less crowded.
If you like to watch bears hunting for salmon at a waterfall; this is the best place. Getting to Mc Neill Falls is more complicated, and a permit is necessary. Nevertheless, have a look to Hallo Bay for brown bear spotting in the Katmai National Park. It's cheaper and easier to experience the park from Homer.
Pictures provided by Chris