Katmai National Park in Alaska

Smoking Mountains – Ten Thousand Smokes

Katmai National Park & ​​Preserve is located in the southwest of the US state of Alaska, at the transition from the mainland to the Aleutian archipelago and on the rugged Alaskan coast. In addition to volcanoes and very high mountains, there are very large lakes and countless rivers in the protected area. Alagnak Wild River is Katmai’s largest river. The largest lake in the national park is Naknek Lake, which is exceptionally rich in fish. All salmon species found in Alaska thrive in the national park’s waters. It should also be mentioned that fishing is very popular in the region.

Rugged volcanic mountain peaks in Katmai National Park in Alaska


The reason for the protection of the area was a gigantic natural event in 1912. The Novarupta volcano erupted and left a huge lava field in the region. The landscape was completely changed by the volcanic eruption. Everything, including the high mountains, was thickly covered with ash, everywhere it was hissing, bubbling and steaming. After the volcanic eruption, researching geologists soon reached today’s protected area. They immediately recognized the uniqueness of the landscape and henceforth called the area “Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes”. Soon after, in 1918, the area received US National Monument status. The “Ten Thousand Smokes Valley” is the central region of Katmai National Park. The size of Katmai National Park is about 17,000 km². In 1980 the area was declared Katmai National Park. Kodiak Island lies south of the sanctuary in the frigid North Pacific.

Brown bears hunt salmon

According to toppharmacyschools, volcanic activity has now largely calmed down, more than 100 years after the Novarupta volcanic eruption. The activities of the earth in the protected area around the volcano have largely come to a standstill, there is no more hissing and steaming. However, the name stuck. Almost 40,000 tourists from all over the world come to Katmai National Park every year primarily because of the wild nature and the almost 2,000 brown bears. In July, the salmon migrate up the rivers to their spawning grounds, often literally jumping in the bears’ mouths. It is only because of the salmon that this enormous bear population can survive there. The bears can be observed catching salmon, but it is not without risk. There are special tours to watch the bears eat. You shouldn’t do it on your own, it’s too dangerous.

Brown bear catching salmon in an Alaskan river

King Salmon and the Hunt

“King Salmon” is the nearest town to Katmai National Park & ​​Preserve. In the northern part of the national park there is an area that only has the protection status “Preserve”. This means that hunting is allowed there. Hunting is strictly prohibited in the rest of the national park. There is only one campground in Katmai National Park & ​​Preserve, Brooks Camp Campground. Camping in the hinterland is possible, but not without risk due to the wild animals. White water rafting is possible on the numerous flowing waters in the protected area, as are, of course, more peaceful kayaking tours. A functioning infrastructure with roads does not exist in the protected area.

Smoking mesas in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Volcanoes and numerous bodies of water

There are fourteen active volcanoes in Katmai National Park & ​​Preserve. The Katmai National Park & ​​Preserve is adjoined by other protected areas on the Alaska Peninsula, but their protection status is lower. In addition to the active volcanoes, the Katmai National Park is best known for its untouched nature, the abundance of fish and the large population of brown bears.

Most active Katmai volcanoes

  • Katmai
  • trident
  • Novarupta
  • griggs
  • Martin
  • Juhle
  • magic

Protected areas at the national park

  • Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge
  • Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
  • Becharof National Wildlife Refuge
  • Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

Katmai National Park in Alaska

You may also like...