Katmai National Monument was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, Katmai National Park and Preserve remains an active volcanic landscape, but it also protects 9,000 years of human history as well as important habitat for salmon and the thousands of brown bears that feed on them.
Reservations for both Brooks Camp and Fures Cabin become available for reservations each year on January 5.
Brooks Camp Campground:
With its wildlife viewing opportunities, access to Naknek Lake and stunning views of nearby mountains, the Brooks Camp Campground is considered by many to be one of the top campgrounds in North America.
Camping at Brooks Camp is only permitted within the designated campground. Campers arriving without a reservation, especially in July when the campground is usually full, must be prepared to backcountry camp outside of the Brooks Camp Developed Area (see Backcountry/Wilderness Camping below).
More than 4 million acres of Katmai are open to backcountry/wilderness camping. Backcountry camping is not permitted within the Brooks Camp Developed Area (the area within 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of Brooks Falls) year-round or within the core Hallo Bay meadows from April 1 through October 31. No permits are required for backcountry camping.
Fure's Cabin, a beautifully constructed one-room house, is a public use cabin. Now a refuge for kayakers, canoers and hikers, the cabin was once the home of trapper, miner and famed Naknek local Roy Fure. The cabin is located on the north side of the Bay of Islands in Naknek Lake. There is anchorage and limited beach access. Primary heat at the cabin is wood. This cabin is not a substitute for the Brooks Camp Campground. Fure's Cabin is over 20 miles by water from Brooks Camp and no public transportation is available. GPS: 58 degrees 40'10.19"N, 155 degrees 25'51.02"W
Katmai email: http://www.nps.gov/katm/contacts.htm
ADA Access: N
Beautiful place, they have clean bathrooms and enough space for the tents. It has an electric fence for avoiding the bears to enter. You can walk to the lunge (about 1/2 km) for having prepared food and even a bath if you pay for using the hot water. They also have spaces for making fire and cook your own food, which by the way, can be kept in a separate place to avoid bear encounters at your own tent.
If you are a national parks enthusiast, or even remotely interested in them, you’ve probably heard of this spot in Alaska where you can witness bears grabbing salmon straight out of a waterfall. This is Brooks Camp, in Katmai National Park.
To camp at Brooks Camp is very tricky. Sites are available for booking about a year and a half in advance of an average summer visit, on January 5th of the year before you will be visiting. They usually fill up in about 5 minutes. This is because people will reserve and put down deposits for several weeks’ worth of camping, before they know when they’ll be visiting. Then, when they finalize their plans, they’ll cancel spots, sometimes at the last minute.
We talked to several rangers who confirmed this phenomenon. We crossed our fingers, and set a backup plan (there is backcountry camping allowed if you hike out a bit from the developed areas of the park) and hoped for the best, refreshing the recreation.gov page daily.
Sure enough, only two weeks before we’d arrive, two spots opened up (costs are per person) on our selected days and we snagged them.
Camping here was unique and wonderful. (Of course, this was probably heightened by the stress of uncertainty). The campsites were enclosed in an electric fence, there were provided wooden food caches and nice covered picnic areas, and the sites were perfectly cozy.
It’s not a cheap trip (you have to first fly to King’s Salmon then bush plane to Brooks Camp) but it is certainly an unforgettable one. It’s not an exaggeration that the bears are everywhere. We could have stood on that viewing platform at Brooks Falls for days.
You can read much more about our two days in the park on our blog: Switchback Kids (Katmai)