Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park sees more 35 thousand visitors each year

Katmai National Park on the Alaska Peninsula protects the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, an ash flow formed by the 1912 eruption of Novarupta, as well as Mount Katmai. Over 2,000 grizzly bears come here each year to catch spawning salmon. Other wildlife includes caribou, wolves, moose, and wolverines.


Katmai’s geology changes dramatically along an east-west axis

Katmai’s geology changes dramatically along an east-west axis. The gently sloping western side of the park contains many glacial moraines (shown in pale pink) and alluvial deposits (pale yellow). Moraines can dam rivers and streams, helping create the large lakes that are characteristic of western Katmai. The landscape here is also pocked with smaller kettle ponds, where water fills the depressions left behind by large blocks of ice from the melting glaciers.

Continuing east, the first mountains you come to are formed from sedimentary (shown in orange) and intrusive igenous (magenta) rocks from the early Jurassic. Crossing the Bruin Bay fault into the most mountainous area of the park are the rocks of the late Jurassic Naknek Formation (bright green) and the much younger Tertiary (dusky rose) and Quaternary (tan) volcanics.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/nature/natfeageof.htm

Photo courtesy of NPS

Native American History

Home of the Alutiiq peoples

People with historic ties to Katmai, mostly of Alutiiq descent, now live around southwest Alaska and beyond, especially in the villages of South Naknek, Naknek, King Salmon, Kokhanok, Igiugig, Levelock, Egegik, Chignik and Perryville. Many Katmai descendants are actively involved in subsistence activities, and participate in the park management process through Alaska Native corporate and non-profit organizations.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/historyculture/cultures.htm

Photo courtesy of NPS


Park History

How Katmai became a National Park

The Cultural Resources program at Katmai National Park and Preserve documents people in the parks, now and in the past, and helps preserve places with special history.

People have made their homes in Katmai National Park and Preserve for at least 9,000 years. Cultural resources professionals help share the stories of people with ties to the park, then and now.

In Alaska, as in the rest of the United States, the National Park Service recognizes and manages five basic types of cultural resources:

Archeological Sites: Physical evidence of past human occupation or activity (the National Park Service recognizes two basic subcategories; prehistoric and historic archeological sites).

Cultural Landscapes: Geographic areas associated with a historic event, activity, or person; or that exhibit other cultural or aesthetic values (this category includes designed, vernacular, and ethnographic landscapes). Cultural landscapes encompass both cultural and natural resources as well as any wildlife or domestic animals that have historic associations with the landscapes.

Ethnographic Resources: Sites, structures, objects, landscapes, or natural features of traditional importance to a contemporary cultural group.
Museum Objects: Material things that possess scientific, historical, cultural or aesthetic values (usually movable by nature or design).
Historic Structures: Constructed works created to serve some human activity (usually immovable by nature or design – buildings, bridges, earthworks, roads, rock cairns, etc. – prehistoric or historic).

The authentic remnants of our nation’s cultural legacy give us an irreplaceable tangible link to our past that cannot be replaced by a book or an article. These authentic places and objects are material touchstones to a past that we experience for ourselves. They serve as material anchors to our past and reference points to our future that cannot be easily erased or eliminated. We can see them, touch them, connect with them in such a way that we can know the past actually happened. Each generation can learn from the remnants, the buildings, and the objects of the past; these are the landmarks that link us over time and space and give meaning and orientation to our lives.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/historyculture/index.htm

Photo courtesy of NPS



The best things to do in Katmai National Park

Backcountry Hiking and Camping: From the lowland tundra of Bristol Bay to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and the rugged Pacific Coast, Katmai is wide open for exploration.

Bear Watching: Bears are everywhere in Katmai. Few places on earth have as many bears as Katmai or offer comparable bear viewing opportunities.

Boating: The park and preserve’s numerous lakes, rivers, and streams offer countless places to explore.

Brooks Camp: This is Katmai’s most popular destination and for good reason. Its combination of bear viewing, sport fishing, scenery, history, and facilities is unequaled.

Flightseeing: Many pilots would argue that Katmai is best seen from the air.

Fishing: Are you an angler looking to fish in streams with numerous, ravenous, and trophy-sized fish? Look no further.

Hunting and Trapping: These activities are permitted in the preserve area of Katmai.

Nearby Attractions: Katmai is just one of the many spectacular areas on the Alaska Peninsula.

Ranger-led Programs: Evening slide shows, walks, hikes and other ranger-led activities are offered at Brooks Camp from June 1 to September 17.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/planyourvisit/things2do.htm



There is an abundance of different plant communities in Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park and Preserve has a wide variety of habitats to support an abundance of different plant communities. This list is far from exhaustive, but here’s a look at some of the wildflowers Katmai has to offer.

Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)
Fireweed is an extremely common perennial plant in Katmai. It is often the first plant to colonize recently disturbed sites, especially following fires. Flowers are typically present between June and August.

Northern Geranium (Geranium erianthum)
Also known as wild geranium or woolly geranium, this purple flowered perennial is common throughout forests, tundra, and meadows in Katmai. Flowers can typically be viewed between June and August.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Common yarrow has clusters of small white flowers and its stems and leaves are extremely fragrant when crushed. This plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries and young leaves have served as a food source. Yarrow can be seen in flower from June through September in the park.

Kamchatka Lily (Fritillaria camschatcensis)
Also commonly known as the chocolate lily, this beautiful deep brownish-purple flower can be seen in moist areas of Katmai between May and July. The bulb of this plant has historically been eaten by natives as a winter food source. Blooms can been seen from June to August.

Monkshood (Aconitum delphinifolium)
These unique purple flowers can be found around the park from June through late August. Monkshood is the most poisonous plant native to North America.

Hooded Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana)
Katmai is home to a number of orchids, including hooded ladies tresses. This orchid can be found in bloom from June to August in parts of the park.

Alaska Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja unalaschcensis)
Alaska indian paintbrush is a unique wildflower because it is hemiparasitic, meaning it grows on and gains nourishment from the roots of nearby plants. These plants can be seen in bloom from June to August in the park.

Beachhead Iris (Iris setosa)
The beautiful beachhead iris is a relatively common wildflower in Katmai. This plant can be seen in bloom from June through August.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/nature/wildflowers.htm

Photo courtesy of NPS

Animal Life

Bear-watching is a hobby at Katmai National Park

Katmai was designated a national monument in 1918 to preserve features associated with one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions ever recorded. However, later expansions and the change in status to Katmai did not focused on geologic activity but rather on the importance wildlife. Today, one of the primary purposes of Katmai National Park and Preserve, based on legislation, is to protect habitats for and populations of fish and wildlife, including, but not limited to, high concentrations of brown bears and their denning areas, and maintain unimpaired the watersheds and water habitat vital to red salmon spawning.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/nature/wildlife.htm

Photo courtesy of NPS

Hiking Trails

The best hiking trails at Katmai National Park

With less than five miles of maintained trails, Katmai is a wilderness park. Its backcountry is filled with nearly limitless possibilities for adventure, challenge, exploration and solitude. Wilderness travel can be by foot, kayak, canoe, raft, boat or airplane.

Most backcountry users find that they need skills beyond basic camping skills to have a safe and memorable experience. No permits are necessary to camp in Katmai’s backcountry, but careful planning is necessary in order to have a safe and enjoyable visit. Explore the links below to begin planning your backcountry adventure.

Backcountry Regulations and Suggested Best Practices
Carry the Ten Essentials
Leave No Trace in Katmai
Backcountry Trip Itinerary

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/planyourvisit/backcountry-hiking-and-camping.htm

Photo courtesy of NPS

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