Katmai, Alaska Cruise Port
There's cruising to various city or town ports in Alaska, and then there's cruising down the Alagnak River to the Katmai National Park and Preserve. Located in the southern part of the state, the park is famous for its hungry-for-salmon brown bears (the males can weigh up to 900 pounds), fantastic landscapes, and all types of unique adventures that only the wild at heart will want to pursue. While a national park since 1980, it was designated a national monument almost a century ago. Because the Alagnak River comes from headwaters in the Aleutian Range, it's been nourishing plants and animals for centuries. It's estimated that people have lived here as long as 9,000 years ago; uncovered chipped stones which are thought to be arrowheads are estimated to be at least 2,000 years old. Listed below are a handful of our favorite experiences for the cruise port of Katmai, Alaska:
- Brooks Falls is a must-see for those looking to catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring brown bears. Park rangers give you a tour of the area and take you to the viewing platform where, if you're lucky, you'll get the money shot of a bear catching a salmon in mid-jump as it tries to head up the falls.
- The popular Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes was filled with ash after the eruption of the Novarupta Volcano in 1912 and thousands of openings called fumaroles were created to vent the steam. It's a stark contrast to the rest of the lush, green park; while no life is sustained here, animals travel through it – so keep an eye out for paw prints in the ash.
- There are many areas around the valley to explore, including Baked Mountain and its huts, which provide both an amazing view and shelter from the elements.
- Kayaking fans will want to attempt the Savonoski Loop. A trek best suited for more advanced outdoorsmen and women, it mixes tranquility with wild rapids; you might even paddle alongside a whale now and again, and you can watch the bears as they wander the shore.