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The Best of Bear Viewing: Fat Bear Week in Katmai National Park

Fat Bear Week just came to an end in Alaska. It's an annual celebration of the fattest brown bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve, a gloriously remote swath of mountains and salmon-filled rivers where there are more bears than people. Each summer, brown bears crowd into the region's frothy streams to claw salmon out of the eddies and waterfalls in order to pack on the pounds to sustain themselves for a long winter of hibernation. Many gather at the famed Brooks River falls where they compete for fishing spots while sockeye salmon leap through rushing water to upstream spawning grounds.

Adventure in Alaska at Stillpoint Lodge 

The incredible terrain of Katmai National Park and its surroundings are a short, stunning flight from Stillpoint Lodge. And if you book early enough, you can get a front row seat into the lives of Alaska's brown bears as they prowl wild beaches, hooking their claws into the sand for clams, or wading into rivers to snorkel for fish. Stillpoint Lodge offers these kinds of adventures... but they fill up quickly. It is a good idea to plan ahead.

 

Katmai Bear Watching

Going bear viewing is a bucket list activity for many people. When else will you get a chance to be a few feet away from some of the largest predators on Earth? You can watch mother bears nursing their cubs, young bears wrestle, and old codgers vie for choice fishing holes against more youthful rivals.

 

Explore Alaska Wildlife

Bear viewing isn't the only bucket list excursion you can participate in while at Stillpoint Lodge. There are many other opportunities to explore wildlife and wild places with Stillpoint Lodge as your launch pad. You can book wildlife cruises where you can spot sea otters, puffins, seals, porpoises, and whales. You can go ocean fishing for salmon and halibut -- the freshest seafood you'll ever eat in your life. And you can secure a spot on a glacier kayaking adventure. Imagine paddling among Picasso Esque icebergs with a ghostly blue glacier in the distance.

 

Relax and Recharge in Alaska

Between excursions, you can enjoy delicious professionally prepared meals, gorgeous views, yoga, massage, and many other activities at Stillpoint Lodge, which sits at the edge of Alaska's first state park. You can stay connected through high-speed wifi or enjoy the time to unplug, staying by the tides of the Kachemak Bay.

 

An Array of Bears for Viewing

As Fat Bear Week draws to a close, I'm reminded of my own life-changing experiences going bear viewing in years past. Bear viewing is a chance not just to see Alaska's wild brown bears in action but to learn their stories. You can learn which bears like to play, which ones like to pick fights, which mothers are the most protective of their young, and who are the most skillful fishermen. You can see their thick coats glisten gold in the sun. You can hear mother bears talking to their young.

Enter the Alaskan Wilderness 

Intimacy with the natural world is how I think of these sorts of encounters. You are present in the wilderness. You are mindful of what's around you. You are observing what few other people get a chance to see -- wild forces at work in Alaska in all their untamed, uncontained beauty.

 

 

by Miranda Weiss, author of Tide, Feather, Snow: A Life in Alaska

www.mirandaweiss.com

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