ALASKA

SOUTHWEST

From the rugged islands of the Aleutian chain to the volcanic landscapes of Katmai National Park and the verdant forests of Kodiak, the ‘Emerald Isle’, Southwest Alaska is a vast and diverse expanse of awesome wilderness. Many venture west to seek out the bears of Katmai. In July, lured by spawning salmon, dozens of bears are often seen at once along the 1.5-mile Brooks River, allowing for close, unobstructed and extraordinary viewings…and amazing photo opps. Journey on to the ‘Valley of 10,000 Smokes’, also within Katmai National Park, a stark and surreal landscape left over from the eruption of the Novarupta volcano in 1912. Further north, hundreds of mountain waterfalls sustain Lake Clark and its abundant trout and salmon populations. Even though it occupies less than one percent of the state, Lake Clark National Park epitomizes all that is Alaska, with glaciers, coastline, forests, rivers, volcanoes, mountains, lakes, tundra, and wildlife including bear and caribou. It’s only a 1-hour bush plane flight from Anchorage. But make no mistake, this is a rugged place with no trail system so advance preparation and the right gear (and guide) is essential.

HIGHLIGHTS

LAKE CLARK NATIONAL PARK


LAKE CLARK NATIONAL PARK

It’s a fact: 95 percent of the United States’ brown bears live in Alaska, with a huge majority of them at Lake Clark National Park. This vast wilderness is the best of Alaska all wrapped up in one spectacular place, making a Lake Clark National Park flightseeing trip a fantastic way to experience the Great White North and its critters, lakes, active volcanoes, mountains, glaciers and more. There’s rarely a crowd here, despite the park being relatively close to Anchorage – no roads lead to the park and it can only be reached by small aircraft, with floatplanes being the best method. Lake Clark National Park is one of the least visited in the National Park System, averaging just over 5,000 visitors per year.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Because of its relative inaccessibility, the most convenient way to view the park from a dramatic perspective is ‘sky-trekking’ via plane. Just a few of the scenic highlights include active volcanos of Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt, immense glaciers, the 42-mile-long, strikingly turquoise Lake Clark, Kontrashibuna Lake and the Tuxedni Bay coastline. The park also has two rustic lodges that, for the intrepid traveler, offer up hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, climbing, rafting (the parks boasts three wild rivers) and amazing birdwatching.

COMBINE WITH
> Anchorage
> Talkeetna
> Denali National Park

KATMAI NATIONAL PARK


KATMAI NATIONAL PARK

While it can be an investment – of both time and money – to get here, a Katmai National Park vacation is nothing short of marvelous. The park and its popular Brooks Camp is famous for its resident brown bears as well as for its intriguing volcanic landscape – the result of a 1912 double volcano. Knowledgeable local guides accompany guests as they get heart-poundingly close to massive brown bears – get even closer by chartering a floatplane to the coast for prime viewing opportunities. With more than 2,000 bears in residence, this is a bucket list must for all lovers of wildlife.

Katmai National Monument was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, Katmai National Park and Preserve remains an active volcanic landscape, but it also protects 9,000 years of human history as well as important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Set out by bush plane to Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, where you’ll seek out bears in their natural habitat – guests have been known to spot as many as 50 bears at once, lured by the spawning salmon of the Brooks River. With your trusty guide along the Katmai Coast, walk along the same trails the bears roam, sit on the same river banks they do and observe them in their normal daily routine – you’ll see them grazing on sedge grass, digging up clams, playing together, courting each other, resting and fishing, with no barriers or fences separating you from the bears and other wildlife. Katmai National Park is the starting point for most bear tours, and there are opportunities for guided floatplane excursions to the coast. Not to be outdone by those top-of-the-class bears, the Valley of a Thousand Smokes is enchanting as well – hike to the Knife Creek glaciers and the Mount Katmai Caldera and along the base of the Buttress Range to fully immerse yourself in a valley molded by the greatest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.

COMBINE WITH
> Kenai Peninsula & Kenai Fjords National Park
> Anchorage
> Denali National Park

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