Welcome to Katmai National Park and Preserve!
If you’ve read my detailed article published in the National Parks Traveler about Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park, Alaska, then you have an idea of the area’s layout with some pretty pictures to go with it.
So my last post ended with the mandatory orientation session dealing with bear etiquette. Once you receive your bear etiquette pin, you are free to immediately roam the park or go get squared away with your lodging.
There is Brooks Lodge (operated by the park’s concessioner Katmailand Inc.) and Brooks Camp (operated by the National Park Service). During the peak months of July and September, the lodge only allows stays of up to 4 days. If you wish to remain in the park longer, you must make a reservation with the NPS and transfer to a tent site at their camp, which is about ½ mile (or less) away from the lodge.
Luggage Carts – lodge employees load your gear onto these carts and take them rickshaw-style to each room.
I and the photo tour I was with stayed at Brooks Lodge, in a motel-style building with 5 rooms on each side of the building.
My home away from home for 4 days.
I shared my room with another female photo tour attendee (no, you don’t get a room to yourself – although I don’t know how the arrangements work when it’s just you traveling solo and not with anybody else or with a group). I traveled with a photo tour group because I knew then I would be guaranteed lodging within the park – when we left the park, the lodge and campsite were full and any walk-ins were turned away.
Our room consisted of 2 bunk beds, a small shower, sink, toilet, desk and single metal folding chair. Clearance on the bottom bunk is low and I bumped my head more than once before remembering to be careful when sitting or laying down. Electrical outlets are located at the head of each bottom bunk bed and next to the sink. It’s basic and clean.
The desk area
Shower and sink
The view from the porch
Meals are served in the lodge’s lobby / mess hall. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at certain hours. The food is simple and delicious. There is a tiny bar within the lobby that opens in the evening.
The cozy lobby – a great place to trade bear stories.
The mess hall.
Wearing their mosquito head nets on the lobby porch
In addition to the motel-style building where I stayed, there are also several nearby cabins. Cabins and motel-style building all house a total of 60 people.
The lodge shares the lobby, mess hall, bar, lodge office, trading post (gift shop), freezing room (where fish are gutted, cleaned and stored), food storage locker, restrooms/showers, and outdoor eating areas (surrounded by an electric fence) with the camp.
The Trading Post ahead, with the freezing room to the left of the photo.
There is a cultural center up the path from the cabins and employee housing that shelters a replica of a pit house. People have inhabited this area since about 9000 years ago.
The path to the cultural center
Reconstruction of a pit house
On our final morning at Brooks Lodge, as I and my photo tour roomie were enjoying the fresh air of the morning, a large brown bear quietly lumbered past our building, followed by her spring triplets gamboling after her. Without giving either of us surprised humans a second glance, momma and babies disappeared into the tall grass of the place that is their home. It was a fitting farewell from Katmai to us.
A Katmai Farewell
Yeah, it stays light that late in Alaska
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