Katmai National Park
Katmai National Park in Alaska was established to protect the area around Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. It’s an active volcanic area, but it’s also home to 9,000 years of human history, as well as being a habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears. The primary ways of getting to the park are by plane or by boat. Although most of the park is wild and undeveloped, Brooks Camp offers lodging and hot meals. Many companies provide transportation and guided tours around the park.
Because Katmai is between the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, storm systems abound and you can encounter all sorts of weather. Spring, summer, and fall are generally wet and cool, with highs up to the 80’s and lows in the 20’s. Winter is dry and much colder, with temps that range from 50˚F to -35˚F. You can expect to find snow at higher elevations until late May or early June. The coastal areas of the park tend to be wetter and colder than the interior, and strong winds are common year-round. Make sure to bring high-quality waterproof clothing and plenty of layers.
You can travel to the park via plane or boat from several other Alaskan towns - Anchorage, Dillingham, Homer, King Salmon, and Kodiak are the most common. These towns are also home to restaurants, shopping, museums, and other points of interest, and you may want to spend a few days exploring them before or after your trip to the park.
If you’re looking for things to do inside Katmai National Park, there are scheduled events throughout the summer. You can find them here. You can also do many activities on your own or with a tour, such as boating, fishing, bear-watching, trapping, and more.
RV Resorts & Campsites in Katmai National Park
Since the park can only be accessed by plane or boat, your options for staying at Katmai are to either pack everything into a campground, or stay at a park lodge. There are RV campgrounds and other accommodations available in the nearby towns that can serve as a hub while you explore the area.
Katmai National Park Public Campgrounds
Katmai National Park Private Campgrounds
RV Rentals Near Katmai National Park
Nearby RV Rentals
Hit the Trails
Along with the more defined trails you’ll encounter at Brooks Camp, more experienced hikers can venture into the backcountry wilderness. At Brooks Camp, you’ll find everything from a short hike to learn about the area’s cultural history, to a potential 46-mile hike through the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Katmai National Park Brooks Camp Trails
Distance: 0.2 miles roundtrip
Terrain: An easy, self-guided trail from Brooks Camp Visitor Center through several prehistoric camps to a reconstructed native dwelling. The area has one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric human dwellings in North America, with over 900 depressions indicating remains of semi-subterranean homes and campsites.
Lake Brooks Road
Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
Terrain: The road leads to the glacially carved Lake Brooks, which has a covered picnic area, food cache, and vault toilet. There is good salmon viewing and bears will sometimes fish for salmon at the lake.
Distance: 2.4 miles roundtrip
Terrain: The most popular hiking trail in Katmai. Enjoy a quiet walk through the boreal forest...while keeping an eye out for brown bears. At the end of the trail, two raised platforms offer a bird’s eye view of bears fishing in the Brooks River.
Dumpling Mountain Road
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Terrain: Moderately strenuous hike that climbs 800 feet in 1.5 miles to an overlook above Brooks Camp with views of Naknek Lake, Brooks River, and Lake Brooks. Beyond the overlook, hikers can continue another 2.5 miles to the summit of Dumpling Mountain.
Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes Road
Distance: 46 miles roundtrip
Terrain: The primary access for exploring the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The road stretches for 23 miles, but there are particularly scenic views at Mile 7 ½ and frequently beyond the first stream crossing at Mile 12.
What to Do at
Katmai National Park
There are plenty of things to do in the towns near the park. Learn about the history and unique geology of the state of Alaska, pan for gold, or shop for the unusual ulu knives commonly used by the Inuit and other native Alaskans.
Location: King Salmon
Alaska Outdoor Gear Rentals
Location: King Salmon
The ULU Factory
Polar Bear Gifts
Aleutian World War II National Historic Area
Alagnak Wild River
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
How to Get to
Katmai National Park
To get to Katmai National Park, you need to travel by boat or by plane. Flights and boats are available from many surrounding towns including Anchorage, Dillingham, Homer, King Salmon, and Kodiak.
If you’re flying to Alaska for your visit, the nearest large airport is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, about 290 miles from the park. You’d then want to arrange either a plane or boat trip to the park itself.
Another way to travel around Alaska is by renting an RV. You can travel in comfort and explore off the beaten path at your own pace. If you don’t own an RV, rentals are available. You can fly into Anchorage and rent an RV after you arrive, or you can rent one near you and drive to Alaska.
There are no RV campgrounds at Katmai National Park, however, there are some in the towns that the boats and planes serve. Consider making one of those your home base, parking your RV there, and heading to the park to explore. Make sure the campground you want to use is open at the time of year you’re traveling and see if they allow reservations so you’re assured of a spot.
Entering Katmai National Park
Exploring the wild landscape of Katmai National Park with its volcanic history, brown bears and other wildlife that live there is a trip that will stay with you long after it’s over! The rich cultural and geologic history of the area and its untouched beauty make it a one-of-a-kind place to visit. At RVshare, we love helping people experience new adventures in the outdoors. RVing is a wonderful way to explore nature with loved ones and to make memories that last a lifetime. Whether you visit Katmai National Park in an RV rental from us or on your own, we want to hear about your trip! Be sure to send us photos at [email protected] and tag us on social media to share details and tips about your visit. You could be featured on our blog or social media channels.