Brown Bear, are native to Lake Clark National Park and are one of the many reasons guests come to the park every year. You have probably seen iconic pictures or postcards of brown bear in Alaska catching salmon jumping up waterfalls. Those pictures were most likely taken at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, which is a popular fly out location for people visiting Lake Clark National Park.
What is the difference between Brown Bears and Grizzly? Genetically, they are the same. They call coastal bears ‘brown bears’ and inland bears ‘grizzly bears’. The coastal bears (brown bear) have more access to fish and other marine animals, while inland bears (grizzly bear) have no access to such a rich food source and in turn are usually smaller.
Brown Bears are a part of life here, We have seen them hiking, in our yard, while driving, and while out in the boat. They can be dangerous if not treated with respect, but typically if you do not surprise them or get between them and their young, they will leave you alone. It is important to make lots of noise when out where they may be so that they know you are there and do not get surprised and attack.
If you do come upon a brown bear unexpectedly, you should confidently talk to them, “Hey bear!” Then slowly back up and give them space. Do not run or turn your back. If they hold their ground or become aggressive, then you will need to be prepared to use bear spray or a gun to protect yourself.
You are less likely to see brown bear close to the villages as the smarter bears stay away from people and the ones that get a taste for garbage usually become such a hazard they need to be euthanized. The more likely places to see them would be around the creeks and rivers, they really like Kijik lake and river where the salmon run as well as any of the other creeks and rivers around the lake.
Guests of Sailing Lake Clark may see Brown Bear from the boat or while hiking, but that can not be guaranteed. The best option for viewing bears would be to have us help you set up a flight to the ocean coast side of Lake Clark National Park or to Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park for a bear viewing day trip.