National Park

Katmai is by any standards a difficult and expensive park to visit. It lies on the Alaska peninsula, far from any road. The primary development is around the Brooks Falls area. This part of the park has been written about extensively elsewhere. I'm going to write about another part of the park, even more remote than the areas around King Salmon and Naknek.

I stayed at a private camp called Hallobay Wilderness Camp on the coast, across Cook Inlet from Homer, within sight of Kodiak and Afognak islands. This is a rugged, rarely visited section of extremely wild country. It was appealing to me not only as a lover of wilderness places, but also as a lover of bears. Brown bears truly abound here.

Most visitors are not likely to be accustomed to encountering bears in the numbers that exist in this area. The staff of Hallobay camp does an excellent job of teaching visitors how to coexist with the bears and other wildlife in the area. This is not like a visit to Yellowstone or Glacier, but a place where you are certain to encounter brown bears at close range on a regular basis. If this prospect doesn't appeal to you, a trip to the Katmai coast shouldn't be on your wish list.

The accomodations at Hallobay are spartan, but one does get interesting visitors.

Bears are likely to be the reason most people are attracted to this area. There is much more though- Alaska marine life and terrestial life all abound here on a truly wild stretch of coastline. In just a few hours one might see nesting eagles, salmon runs underway, otters, foxes, and moose. These creatures can be seen elsewhere in Alaska, of course, but the setting on the coast of the Alaska peninsula is hard to beat. And of course, there are the bears. This kind of trip isn't for everyone- it costs as much to travel to Katmai from Anchorage or Homer as it does to travel to Anchorage from the lower 48. The weather is terrible, even in summer. Rain and wind are pretty constant.

Visit the official site.

Favorite hike: Anywhere along the coast
Favorite place to stay: Hallobay camp
Favorite place to sit for hours: Watching the tidal flats at low tide as bears arrive to dig clams.
Read: Green Alaska , by Nancy Lord

Any comments are appreciated. Send me an e-mail!

All photography and text by Bill Dummitt (all rights reserved)
Website designed by JULI
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