BROOKS FALLS BEAR VIEWING

A DAY AT BROOKS FALLS

Brooks Falls stands as a renowned bear sanctuary nestled in the heart of Katmai National Park, offering a captivating experience for wildlife enthusiasts. The Brooks River boasts one of the state's most impressive natural runs of Sockeye/Red and Coho/Silver salmon, attracting bears from miles around to feast on these high-protein fish and prepare for the upcoming winter hibernation. This unique setting provides an unparalleled viewing experience.

Embark on a breathtaking floatplane journey from Homer to the shores of Naknek or Brooks Lake (depending on wind conditions). Begin your photographic safari with a brief stop at the Park Ranger Station, situated on the edge of Naknek Lake, for a safety briefing from our amicable park ranger. Immerse yourself in the bear's natural habitat as you explore the boardwalks and trails, culminating in a close encounter with the falls where, most times, numerous bears are actively engaged in feeding. Check out the live feed video of the bears by following the link below.

What to anticipate:

  • Freedom to explore the park at your own pace following the safety briefing
  • A picturesque experience along the boardwalks and trails
  • Observation of the largest Coastal Brown Bears on earth, strolling along the beach, trails, and at the Falls
  • Witnessing bears chasing spawning salmon in the lake and river
  • Observing bears in contention for prime fishing spots
  • Mothers imparting fishing skills to their cubs
  • Turbo Planes ensure early arrival at the viewing platform, beating the crowds
  • Faster, safer, and more comfortable planes equipped with intercom systems and noise-canceling headsets, facilitating communication with the pilot and fellow passengers
  • Leisurely moments to relax and enjoy a sandwich at the Lodge
  • Weather-dependent opportunity to witness the Valley of 10,000 Smokes on the return journey

Trip Details:

  • Duration: 7-8 Hours
  • Capacity: Call For Availability!
  • Trip Price: $1395 per person
    • (includes taxes, park fees, fuel surcharge) *A 3% processing fee will be applied to all credit card payments. Wire transfers and checks are accepted.

ABOUT KATMAI NATIONAL PARK

Spanning over 4 million acres and positioned opposite Kodiak Island, Katmai National Park and Preserve boasts a captivating landscape and offers an unrivaled experience for visitors. The park is renowned for the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, a unique testament to the aftermath of volcanic eruptions. Additionally, it features Hallo Bay, a coastal sanctuary within the park known for its meadows adorned with wildflowers, snowcapped mountains, glacier-fed creeks, and a thriving bear population.

Nestled within the vast expanse of Katmai Park is the world-famous Brooks Falls, a destination synonymous with extraordinary bear viewing. Embarking on a floatplane adventure to Naknek Lake, visitors are greeted by seasoned Park Rangers who guide them through an immersive tour of Brooks Falls. Especially during the peak salmon season, witness the breathtaking spectacle of 20 or more brown bears feeding in the river, mere feet away from the well-placed observation platforms.

Brooks Falls stands out not only for its stunning natural beauty but also for the remarkable interactions between bears as they navigate the rushing waters to catch salmon. The platform provides an intimate view of bears honing their fishing skills, mothers teaching their cubs, and occasional bear conflicts over prime fishing spots. The experience is heightened by the proximity of these majestic creatures, creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.

Visitors to Brooks Falls often marvel at the strategic positioning of the observation platforms, allowing for unparalleled views of bear behavior without disturbing their natural activities. The park's commitment to responsible wildlife tourism ensures a memorable and respectful encounter with the extraordinary wildlife that calls Katmai National Park and Brooks Falls home.

Brooks Falls Live Camera!

FAT BEAR WEEK AT BROOKS FALLS!

Brooks Falls is globally renowned for hosting Fat Bear Week, an annual event where bears indulge in an abundance of salmon to prepare for the upcoming winter. This transformation takes them from being scrawny in the spring to delightfully roly-poly by fall!

The inception of Fat Bear Week, initially known as Fat Bear Tuesday, dates back to 2014 when former park ranger Mike Fitz conceptualized the idea. Observing the growing interest in online livestreams showcasing bears feasting at the river, he introduced the concept of having visitors to the national park review before-and-after photos of various bears. People were invited to vote for the fattest bear in a single-elimination tournament. In 2015, the tournament evolved into a digital format and extended its duration to a week.

In the 2023 edition, an impressive 1.3 million participants engaged in the voting process. The reigning champion of this year's Fat Bear Week was 128 Grazer, who secured victory with a dominant performance, claiming the coveted crown.

More Information!

Common Brooks Falls Q&A

1. Where is this?

Brooks Falls is located East of King Salmon on the west side of the Alaska Range, in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Our aircraft will take you to Naknek Lake where your adventure will begin.

2. How long of a flight to get there?

Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes in our Cessna 206 and DeHavilland Otter.

3. Is this a floatplane or wheel plane?

Brooks Falls is accessed only by floatplane. We will land on Naknek Lake and park on the beach near the trailhead that leads you up to the ranger station.

4. Where do we meet prior to departure?

Our Brooks Falls bear viewing trip departs from 1184 Lakeshore Drive after a short pre-trip safety meeting. If you are staying at a lodge across the Bay, we will arrange a time to pick you up at their dock.

5. What time do we meet for our trip?

We have morning trips most days. You will arrive at our location at 8:00 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. departure.

6. I’m staying at a lodge across the Bay, can I get picked up at their dock?

Yes... We will arrange a pick-up time and see you there.

7. What will I see on the flight over?

The flight to Brooks Falls takes in the best of Alaska scenery and often mentioned as the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. You’ll depart Beluga Lake and with a
bird’s eye view of the Homer Spit aim for Augustine Volcano across Cook Inlet. Past Augustine, you fly through the mountains surrounding Mount Douglas Volcano and
the on to Naknek Lake. Some days the weather cooperates and we will take a 20-minute detour over the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Have your camera ready!

8. How does it work?

When we arrive at the lake you and your group will walk up to the ranger station where you will listen to a short presentation on bear habitat/biology/behavior.
Once you have been through the orientation, you will be released to walk up to the falls and out onto the respective viewing platforms.

9. Do we have a guide or are we on our own?

Kind of/sort of… Park rangers are disbursed throughout the area and can answer any questions you may have.

How large of a group can you take over?

Due to the distance and required fuel, our Cessna 206 aircraft can take 4 passengers plus the pilot depending on total weight.

10. What if my group is larger than 4 people?

No problem… We own and operate one Otter, one Beaver, and one Cessna 206 which combined can carry up to 18 passengers. For larger groups, please call!

11. Are we guaranteed to see bears?

Yes… Our trips guarantee that you will see bears but timing is important so you will need to be flexible. We closely monitor
bear activity at Brooks Falls to give you the best possible outcome.

12. What will we see at Brooks Falls?

The flight to Brooks Falls is often mentioned as the highlight of the trip. Bear activity is most prevalent from late June to early
September with a slight lull in early to mid-August. The bears in this area are almost exclusively fishing for salmon and are
following the migration between Naknek Lake and Lake Brooks. There is a series of falls where the fish are required to jump to
continue their journey. The bears focus on the fish at the base and top of the falls. Bears are seen daily at the floatplane
parking area, along the trails, around the lodge, and at the falls.

13. How physically strenuous is the Brooks Falls trip?

This is an important question. The hike up to the ranger cabin is approximately ¼ mile and the hike from there to the falls is
another 1 mile. A good portion of the journey is on boardwalks and is generally across flat ground. Expect 2-3 miles of hiking
on your trip. Please notify us early of any physical limitations when booking.

14. How many hours will we spend on the ground with the bears?

3.5 to 4 hours is the average time hiking and photographing bears. Your pilot will arrange a time to meet back at the plane for a mid-afternoon departure.

15. Is it safe?

Yes… Although these bears are wild, they have very little interest in humans. Park Rangers will instruct the group on bear/human
interaction and will ensure that safe distances are maintained.

16. Will we need waders or hip boots?

No… Just a good pair of hiking shoes or boots.

17. Should I bring pepper spray or a gun for protection?

No... We do not allow our guests to bring these items on the aircraft. Park Rangers have flares and bear deterrents, but those are rarely needed.

18. Should I bring food and water?

Yes… Bottled water is a must as it can be quite warm on the west side of the Inlet. For food, avoid all fish products or smelly sandwiches. Bring snack foods such as candy bars, trail mix, granola, protein bars, etc. All food items must be removed from the plane during the day and stored in a food locker provided by the Park Service. Note: Brooks Lodge has a variety food items available for sale.

19. What else should I bring?

We recommend a good set of rain gear, bug repellent, sunscreen, a brimmed hat, extra batteries, and memory cards for your camera.

20. Anything else I should know?

Yes… Any trip via aircraft in Alaska requires a strict weight and balance manifest. We will be asking for exact clothed weights and the weight of your packs for each of the folks in your group. It is imperative that the numbers you provide are accurate.

21. What is your cancellation policy?

For Reserved Fares: Cancellation of trips any time before 60 days prior to your trip you will receive a full refund less a 10% administrative fee. After that time, payment/deposits are non-refundable. In the event we cancel a trip due to weather, safety issues, or events beyond our control, you have the option of a full refund or to reschedule on a space available basis. Due to the expense of these trips, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to cover any unforeseen circumstances. Call for updated COVID-19 Policy.

22. Northwind Aviation Standard Policies:

*To maintain safe aircraft operations and comply with Federal Aviation Regulations, NWA guests must provide our office with the precise weight (clothed body plus gear) of each person in your group.  To ensure accuracy, you and your gear will be weighed at the time of check-in.  If you have misrepresented your weight, and the total aircraft load exceeds the legal limitations, you may be subject to forfeiture of your seat, and no refund will be issued.  We make every effort to accommodate our guests and will try to find another flight or tour option for you, but additional charges could apply.  For safety reasons we have a weight limit of 300 lbs. or less. 

*For bear viewing tours to Chinitna, Hallo Bay, and Brooks Falls we have a minimum age requirement of 7 years or older. For families with children under 7 years of age, please ask about our private charter bear viewing trip options.