When you talk about iconic photo ops in the NPS, I think Katmai National Park wins hands down. Chances are if you read our blog there’s a good chance you’ve seen pictures or video from Katmai National Park – maybe without even realizing it. This classic shot is a bear at the edge of a waterfall chomping down on a salmon as it tries to jump the falls.
Brooks Falls in Katmai accumulates a crazy amount of salmon that are swimming upriver to spawn and slowed down as they try for hours to leap over the 6-foot waterfall. Brooks Falls also attracts a crazy amount of coastal brown bears to feast constantly on the highly concentrated salmon during the short Alaska summers. And, of course, Brooks Falls lures a ton of crazy tourists and photographers hoping to see this spectacle of nature that returns like clockwork every July and hopefully snap that perfect picture.
The ironic historical tidbit at Katmai is the park was originally created to protect and study the landscape that was decimated in the aftermath of the Novarupta eruption in 1912 – the 5th most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history (30 times greater than St. Helens!). For years after the eruption, countless steam vents could be seen across the huge valley. It was dubbed the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Although the steam had stopped by the time we took the bus tour out to visit the remote valley, it was impressive to see the enormous volume of beautifully orange colored ash that once filled a happy green valley.
However, nowadays Katmai is synonymous with one thing: bears. If you go during the peak salmon fishing months of July and September you are guaranteed to see your fill. We saw bears at the falls, on the river banks, in the lake, outside the visitors center and most surprisingly sleeping right beside the trail we were walking. Elizabeth’s post will talk more about how Katmai and its visitors live peacefully with all the bears, so for now I will just say that we had plenty of chances to get some awesome Katmai National Park video…
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