The third viewing area is the lower platform across the river from Brooks Camp. It’s situated so that you can see bears as they roam around the mouth of Brooks River, in the pools of water below the platform and out in the open grassland area. This platform offers you the greatest viewing range to see the bears.
The general rule of thumb around the area is to keep your distance from the bears to at least 100 yards. The bears have one thing on their mind and that is salmon. They need to catch and eat as many protein rich salmon as possible between July and September. If left alone and not bothered, the bears mind their own business and just walk by their human intruders. This same philosophy runs true out on the river. In fact, in the 50 odd years the camp has been operating not a single person has ever been attacked or injured by a bear.
This trip proved a little different from my previous two visits. The salmon runs typically starts sometime in late June early July, but this year the salmon were late. There were salmon in the river and a few big schools of salmon had gone through the system, but the thousands and thousands of salmon typical at this time of year were missing. Consequently, there were fewer bears along the river banks than normal and the bears looked lost at the falls. In the four days I was there, I didn’t see a single salmon jump. The bears would stand on top of the falls and stare at the pool of water below them waiting for flying salmon. They stood patiently for 20 minutes or longer waiting, but eventually gave up and moved on.
The lack of salmon and bear proved disappointing. Shooting at 8 frames per second from the upper viewing platform while salmon met up with hungry bears mid air would have to wait for another year. The bears we did see were mostly down by the lower falls, walking along the shores of Naknek Lake and a few could be found walking along the banks of Brooks River. In years past, the big male bears tend to dominate the upper part of the river with the biggest of the males intimidating the younger ones for the best spot atop of Brooks Falls. Along the lower river you’d find the sows and their cubs. The sows are very protective of their young cubs. They get nervous if any male, big or small, gets near.
If you plan to visit the Brooks Camp area, here are my recommendations:
To get there:
Seattle – Anchorage – King Salmon (commercial flights)
King Salmon – Brooks Camp (operated by
Where to stay:
Cabins: operated by
Campground – Operated by the National Park Service (you can book a reservation only up to six month before your visit)
Electrical Needs for Digital Cameras and Laptops:
The mess hall at Brooks Camp runs on a generator and has electrical outlets. You’ll find many of the outlets recharging batteries. I took a power strip so I could recharge my digital camera batteries and laptop at the same time. This way I only needed one outlet to satisfy all my electrical needs.