If the idea of flying over dramatic mountain peaks, having a birds-eye view of salmon-hunting bears, and zipping over alpine meadows sounds thrilling, then a flightseeing tour is exactly what's needed. Katmai National Park is a prized natural gem in Alaska's wilderness, and one of the best ways to see it is from directly above.
While hiking offers glimpses of this landscape from the ground, a flightseeing tour offers so much more to potential visitors. From the window of a small plane, passengers will be able to watch wildlife in their natural habitats, get a glimpse of salmon migrations upstream, and be privy to some of Alaska's most incredible mountains from almost a peak level.
Flightseeing Tours In Alaska's Katmai National Park
We often don't realize what we're missing until we've seen it in a new and different way. As opposed to hiking, flightseeing tours through Katmai National Park allow its visitors to get glimpses of things they wouldn't otherwise see on the ground. Not only is it an all-encompassing means of seeing Alaska's wildlife and terrain, but it's often a more convenient and easier way of doing so. However, a flightseeing tour is worth it for more than the sake of ease.
What, Exactly, Will Passengers See On A Katmai Flightseeing Tour?
Let's start with Alaska's incredible wildlife. A flightseeing tour is a perfect way to guarantee that travelers will see something since they'll have a lot more areas opened up to them than they would when hiking. Some of the most popular animal species that can be seen from above in Katmai are:
- Schools of salmon swimming in lakes and rivers
- Brown bears on the hunt for food, or mamas with cubs depending on the season
- Moose wandering the mountain slopes or nearing the edges of lakes
- Rookeries of native bird species
- A host of native marine mammals that enjoy sunbathing on rocky shores during the warmer months
In terms of the landscape, the sky, truly, is the limit on a sightseeing tour. In the area of and around Katmai, plane passengers will immediately see mountain ranges in the distance, including the steaming volcanoes of Alaska's Aleutian Ridge. Down below, passengers can catch glimpses of freshwater lakes, lowland tundra, green meadows, or snow-covered slopes depending on the season, and the edge of the Pacific Coast.
Flightseeing tours can be taken out of any of these nearby locations:
- King Salmon
What To Know When Taking A Flightseeing Tour Of Katmai National Park
It's important for visitors to know that this national park can only be reached via plane. The 290-mile flight from Anchorage is the most popular option for those wishing to see the park, and there will be accommodations once they land. For those who choose to spend the night at Katmai, the option for camping during the summer months (June through mid-September), or staying at the lodges within Katmai National Park are both options.
One of the most popular reasons for visiting Katmai National Park is to see the brown bears at Brooks Falls. Here, the bears can be viewed safely from the overlook platforms at the camp, or during a flightseeing tour. It's estimated that roughly 2,000 brown bears live in Katmai, alone, which means visitors have pretty good odds of seeing them during their visit. Along the coastline, brown bears can also be seen digging for clams or searching for grasses, roots, and other vegetation.
Another option for visitors is to book a flight into King Salmon via jet service before heading out to Brooks Camp. This is a good way to segment the trip for those who don't want to fly straight from Anchorage to Brooks Camp, but both trips are worth it nevertheless.
Lodges Within Katmai National Park
The most popular lodge in Katmai National Park is the Brooks Lodge, which is often the first choice by visitors. This provides great access to brown bear viewing with a one-mile hike to the viewing platform overlooking Brooks Falls. Lodging at Brooks Lodge includes:
- Two sets of bunk beds
- Sink, shower, and toilet
- Buffet-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the main lodge
- Access to 6-7 hours of viewing from the Brooks Falls overlook platform
The second lodge is the Katmai Wilderness Lodge, which is a bit more remote but offers access to the coast of Katmai National Park. This lodge can also be reached via plane from Anchorage, from Kodiak Island. Lodging at Katmai Wilderness Lodge includes:
- Six deluxe cabins
- Private bathrooms
- Meals served at the main lodge
- Daily guided activities included in the lodging price
No matter how one chooses to see Katmai National Park, having the chance to observe Alaska's incredible landscape and wildlife are more than worth it.