Katmai National Park and Preserve is located in southern Alaska along the west coast of the Aleutian Chain. The park is home to the stunning Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, an immense ash flow and one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, as well as Mount Katmai and Novarupta, the volcanic craters that caused it. The park also offers an incredible variety of wildlife, million-year-old glaciers, amazing views of the Aleutian Range and many more exciting features that have earned it the title of one of the most scenic parks in the nation.
Katmai National Park and Preserve covers an area of 4,093,077 acres (16,558 sq km), making it one of the largest in the U.S. Park Service. It includes two different sections - the park itself and the preserve. The park and preserve allow different activities, so visitors should be aware of the distinctions before going.
The park section is open to general recreation activities such as camping, fishing, backpacking, and hunting. Hiking trails lead to remote lakes, valleys and volcanoes and offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. Lake fishing and bear viewing opportunities are also available and very popular with visitors.
The preserve section of the park mostly consists of protected wilderness, where no non-subsistence activities, such as hunting, are allowed. Much of the preserve stars here are old-growth forests, rivers, and large glaciers. Grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, tundra swans, bald eagles, and over 2,000 brown bears can also be found here.
The park was established in 1918, became part of the National Park Service in 1980 and later, was declared a Preserve in 1980. Prior to its establishment, the volcanic eruptions of 1912 had caused great devastation in the region and had buried over 4 square miles of land in volcanic ash. In 1924 explorer Robert Griggs led an expedition to the area and dubbed the ash flow valley "the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes", accurately describing the sight of volcanic vents still steaming from the eruption.
Today, Katmai is one of the most popular parks in the National Park system and one of the most scenic as well. Its incredible terrain, active wildlife, and amazing geysers, thermal springs and hot mud pots draw visitors from around the world. Visitors can take part in guided bear watching tours and experience the park in a way few do.
Katmai National Park and Preserve offers something for everyone and is a must-see for those seeking to discover Alaskan beauty and wilderness.
Photos of Katmai National Park and Preserve
Photo by Paxson Woelber on Unsplash
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Photo by Pradeep Nayak on Unsplash
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Katmai National Park and Preserve
How to get to Katmai National Park?
The easiest way to get to Katmai National Park is by flying into Anchorage and then driving or taking a bush plane to King Salmon, the nearest town. From King Salmon, you can take a boat trip or arrange for air transportation to the park. Commercial air charters, ferries, and bus tours are available to the park area.
Where is Katmai National Park located?
Katmai National Park is located in the southwest corner of Alaska, about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage and 600 miles northeast of Seattle.
How many bears are in Katmai National Park?
As of 2020, estimates suggest that between 1,500 and 2,200 brown bears inhabit Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
What to do in Katmai National Park?
Katmai National Park offers a variety of activities such as hiking, bear viewing, fishing, kayaking, rafting, sport fishing, and camping. It is also home to an extensive road system providing access to a number of remote areas and wilderness experiences. Visitors can also enjoy exciting air tours, ranger-led programs, and take part in photography, bird watching, and educational programs.
Average weather in Katmai National Park and Preserve