Brooks Falls is on the Brooks River, which connects two lakes in Katmai National Park. Shown above, a brown bear is looking at the falls and a bear upstream. We would finally get to see brown bears up close. Coastal brown bears have a rich fish diet and allows them to grow to 1200 pounds, 50% larger than the grizzly bears we saw in Denali.
The Park Service provides two elevated viewing platforms near the falls. The elevated platforms provide a safe place to see the falls, being elevated with bar-proof gates.
We usually started at the Riffles platform, downstream from the falls. The photo below shows the river and falls. We were excited to see a bald eagle in a tree above the falls — our first wild bald eagle. The bald eagle has a white head. There’s a brown bear near the light-colored rock to the right of the falls.
The second platform is at the falls, providing a closer view of the falls, bear, and salmon. To get to their spawning grounds, the salmon have to jump the 6′-high falls, and sometimes bears wait there. This photo below, taken from the falls platform, shows a bear catching a leaping salmon.
Visits at the Falls platform are limited to one hour when people are waiting, most of the day in July except for early morning and the evening. People fly in for the day so the daytime is always busy. When you leave the the falls platform, you can put your name on the waiting list and wait at the riffles platform until your name is called.
The platforms are more than a mile from the Lodge. Bears go where they want, so you have to be careful walking between the Lodge and the platforms. Each person arriving at camp must attend bear training before checking in. Bears are more interested in eating fish, so they don’t usually pose an immediate threat unless you surprise a mother bear with cubs.
Our son went fly fishing for salmon, wading in the Brooks River, where he caught and released four salmon. 🙂 Of course bears were also fishing in the river for salmon. Our son caught a salmon when a bear was nearby. The guide told him to cut his fishing line to let the bear have the fish. He cut the line as instructed and lived to tell his parents his adventures.