We’re midway through National Park Week, and today we are celebrating Katmai National Park! Located in southern Alaska, this park is famous for the highly volcanic Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and, of course, it’s sockeye salmon and the brown bears who feed on them.
Katmai is home to the world’s largest protected brown bear population; an estimated 2,200 bears live within the park! Drawn by the salmon spawning, in the summers the bears flock to the streams of Katmai to feast. Many of the most famous pictures of brown bears feeding were taken from viewing platforms at Brooks Falls, at the mouth of Brook River. Between 40 and 70 brown bears have been documented in this one area in July! Besides bears, Katmai is also home to sea otters, wolves, and humpback whales.
People have been living in Katmai for over 6,000 years, and Brooks Camp, the most visited part of the park, has evidence of human habitation from 4,500 years ago. The Sugpiaq/Alutiiq people call the area home, and have long lived off the bounty of the coast. Today, the Alutiiq live in coastal fishing communities and maintain aspects of their traditional subsistence culture.
Also… Happy Earth Day!