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brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

missouri
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brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

Are there any other options for lodging at brooks falls other than the campground or the lodge? Are there any bear viewing trips that are located near brooks falls that take groups to places to view bears, inlcuding brook falls?

I've decided to try for a 2 or 3 day trip, but getting confused about options. Camping doesn't sound bad, but I would have to buy gear and not sure I want to camp with bears walking around?

Bristol, Connecticut
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1. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

If you want to see the bears at Brooks falls then the campground or The Lodge are your best options. There are other lodges that fly guests in for the day or even day trips from The Kenai Peninsula or Anchorage. The problem is that you are paying a lot of money for a "chance" to see bears at The Falls. If you stay 2-3 nights at Brooks Camp during the time bears are at the falls you multiply your chances of seeing bears exponentially. On a day trip you may hit a bad day for bears or get caught in a bear jam and never get to the falls or have limited time there. If you stay at Brooks Camp you can visit the Falls whenever you like and also have the time to wait out a bear jam. If you camp you can rent equipment in Anchorage. Minimally you need a tent with a good fly, a sleeping bag and a ground pad. If you don't mind the cost you could eat at the lodge and only bring cold food with you so no need for a stove or utensils. I hate cooking when I camp and tend to live on PBJ, jerky, cheese and granola, at Brooks I ate breakfast and dinner at the lodge. It is buffet style so you can eat as much as you like, but it is costly.

They also have an electric fence around the campground and storage lockers for food so there are very few problems with bears in the Brooks Camp Campground.

Edited: 07 August 2010, 23:54
Eagle River, Alaska
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2. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

The campground is surrounded by an electric fence. As I understand it, since the fence was put up in 2000, there has only been one bear that entered the campground and it left, creating no problem. We camped for three nights in July. You get a good bear orientation talk when you first arrive at the park; there is really no need for bear viewing trips. The bears are everywhere! You can walk to the Falls and there is another viewing platform just across the river from the lodge. Go in July when the salmon are running, but DO go! It's a magnificent place to watch bears fishing and socializing. The Park Rangers do a wonderful job of watching bear activity so as to keep it safe. The bridge to the Falls and the other viewing platform closes regularly, whenever a bear is within 50 yards. This keeps human/bear interaction predictable for the bears which, in turn, allows it all to work. One thing to be aware of is the weight limit when flying into Katmai. It is 50# per person, more than that and they charge something like 55 cents per pound. Three of us were able to weigh in at 138# including 2 tents, all gear and food for three days. If I were to do it again, I'd take less food, buy more meals at the lodge even though they are very expensive, and we would have shared one set of binocs. Camping sites go up for reservation in very early Jan. and fill up quickly. There are cancelations, however, and last minute reservations may be possible, if not likely. Only 60 campers per night are allowed in the campground. You can find the link on the National Park Service site. Good luck. I hope you can go! It's a remarkable place

Whitewtr
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3. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

Another option is to stay at a lodge bear Brooks Falls but visits different locations each day. www.katmaiadventurelodge.com has a lodge near the town of King Salmon. Their packages includes daily visits to Brooks Falls and other salmon streams to view bears around Naknek Lake.

San Francisco
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4. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

What are the chances of seeing bears fishing at the falls on the last week of July? I just booked the camp for Jul 27-29. I cannot go to Alaska earlier than the last week of July.

The info I get is a bit confusing... Some sites say it is up until mid of July, some - until the end of July?

Thanks

Eagle River, Alaska
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5. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

You know, every year the salmon runs are different. Sometimes they are early, sometimes they are late. Last year, we went in mid-July. My daughter went the following week and saw many more bears with fish than we did. I think we saw just as many bears, they just were working harder to catch the fish that were there. I think you'll still see plenty of bears at the falls in late July. There are two viewing platforms there and there are bound to be bears still fishing. You may also see bears closer to the lodge at the platform across the river. I hope you enjoy your trip. It's such an amazing place.

Edited: 08 January 2011, 00:48
Chugiak, Alaska
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6. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

The last two years there were plenty of bears the last days of July. About the last three years the salmon runs have been later than usual in the Summer. You never know for sure, and if I had a choice I'd get as close to the middle fo July as you can even if it was the choice of the 25-27th instead of the 27th-29th. I went from Jul 28th-Aug 1st and saw a ton of bears at the Falls on the 28th and 29th, but only one at the Falls the last two days and a few in the river.

San Francisco
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7. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

Thanks a lot for the info!

I will be watching the campground bookings and if somebody cancels will rebook for 25th-27th.

West Palm Beach...
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8. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

I have to respond about the electric fence. When we arrived at Brooks last year on July 20, 21st one camper showed us how he could touch the fence and nothing happened. There was a sign on the fence that said "solar powered." It was cloudy those days and it is often overcast at Brooks Camp. One observer that day said it might be different if the bear touched two wires at the same time when trying to enter. Maybe it would be different in different parts of the fence. I chose to believe that since I was staying there.

When I got home, I kept wondering about this. I called the ranger station there and relayed the fact that people were touching the fence. I asked if it was solar powered and he said that yes, it was. He said they "do the best they can."

I don't know if there is something I was missing in this scenario, but this is what I saw and was told.

There were more bears July 20, 21, the days we were there, than mid-July. I think that week may have been about the best. I counted 25 bears when we got there the first night and more arrived . It was incredible! Perhaps the week after was good too.

Make sure you follow the bear safety rules. The bears ignored people when we were there. They would walk down the beach or trails so nonchallant about people. They did not even turn their heads. People were a safe distance due to the rangers insistence, but not so far away that a bear wouldn't notice them if they wanted too. They didn't. They just wanted to eat salmon and sometimes play. We heard more than one story about people being passed by bears when on the trails to and from the lodge. They just stepped aside and let them pass.

It is an absolutely amazing place !

Chugiak, Alaska
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9. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

'I will be watching the campground bookings and if somebody cancels will rebook for 25th-27th.'

Sorry, that wasn't to say that you have to go those days to see the bears best- just that due to the bears tapering off at the very end of July or at the beginning of August, I'd shoot for closer to 20th ish rather than the 30th, if that makes sense. From the Raanger's twitter account, it seems like the bears peaked on about July 22nd this past Summer: http://twitter.com/BrooksCamp

Re: bear encounters. I agree about not needing to fear the bears, but you definitely want to give them their space. I stopped whistling when I was walking to the falls by myself one day and 'ran into' a bear that was just off the trail. He was around 30-40 ft away but instead of ignoring me, he turned and ran off quickly. I backed away and started making noise quickly and he kept going, and I was very happy about that.

Another time one of the Rangers stayed very still when a mama and her older cub wandered by because they snuck up on her and she had no where to go easily. I asked her how that felt and she said she was sweating it for sure.

Sows at Katmai don't always act like 'normal' sows (most bad encounters are sows defending fishing or cubs or both up here), but they do have bears there that, as the Rangers put it, 'act like bears'. Caution is always the best idea.

Edited: 08 January 2011, 09:16
Bristol, Connecticut
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10. Re: brooks falls and other bear viewing sites

The bears do leave you alone, these coastal bears have much more tolerance for invasion of their space than the interior bears do. This is because they are conditioned to it, their populations are larger and they reside in much smaller areas.

I was sitting on the beach with a co-worker waiting for a our plane one day and a sow and 2 cubs were way down the beach playing with dead salmon. There was a ranger between us and the bears. Well a sub-adult male decided he was going to go after the cub and they started running down the beach toward us. First the cub then the male followed by the sow and another cub. We got up and slowly followed a Gator trail up to the lodge to get out of the way. The cub followed us, probably looking for some help. The cub was on my behind before I knew it and I jumped to the side of the trail and pretended to be a tree. They all ran right past me and down Park Ave. (the main trail through the camp). After the sow chased the male off she was throwing a fit on the beach and she was mad as heck. That is the closest I have ever come to a bear in the wild. Being so close to the bears at Brooks was freaky at first since in Anchorage I spend all my time trying not to even smell a bear never mind see one.

The bear that "acted" like a bear the year I was there was named Little Miss Sunshine, I think the rangers were being a bit sarcastic when they named her that. She spent evenings tearing up water lines and generally wrecking the camp. Bears are very curious and will try to explore anything that peaks their interest. That is why I was told not to use the clear bear containers or bags, bears can see something in them and want to know what it is.

Edited: 08 January 2011, 12:39
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