Grizzly Bears in the Fall Photo tour - Katmai National Park
A photo tour to Katmai National Park and Preserve; we’ll be basecamping in remote southwest Alaska, photographing grizzly bears, dawn til dusk, for a week. Katmai National Park is home to some of the largest grizzly bears (or “brown bears” as they’re often called in that region) in the world. Feeding largely on salmon from some of the richest salmon runs in Alaska, the bears are magnificent creatures and there’s no better time to photograph them than in the fall. This trip offers an unsurpassed opportunity to photograph wild grizzly bears in a remote and brilliantly wild setting and promises some simply incredible photographic possibilities.
Photo Tour Outline
- - 6 nights camping with the bears
- - Small, private group, 5 photographers max.
- - All food, camping gear included
- - Reliably up to 60 bears in the area
- - Optimal time of year for bear photography
- - 2 week option available
- - Unsurpassed grizzly bear photography opps
- - Local Alaska licensed and insured guide
- - I've been photographing here, and these bears, for over 15 years.
- - There's not another tour like it. Anywhere.
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Photo Tour Location
The Katmai area was declared a National Monument in 1918, and in 1980 the boundaries were greatly extended and the region declared a National Park and Preserve. At 4.2 million acres it stands a sizable chunk of land set aside for the preservation of an amazing abundance of wildlife, sovereign of which is the grand old Grizzly bear.
Katmai National Park and Preserve lies southwest of Anchorage on the Alaskan Peninsula, and is arguably the greatest grizzly bear viewing and photography location in the world. The prodigious salmon runs attract and support a grizzly bear population density that is among the highest in the world. It’s also among the safest place to photograph wild grizzly bears, given their plentiful food sources and tolerance of human presence; the bears are generally extremely tolerant of people, and this combined with the high bear population (as many as 70-80 bears in the area) makes it possible to shoot literally thousands of photos in a few short days. The beauty of a fall trip is that we get the place largely to ourselves; along with dozens of bears, thousands of salmon, some bald eagles, the odd wolf, gulls, waterfowl, and assorted other wildlife.
The Grizzly Bears
Bear population density in the area increases dramatically in the fall as food sources concentrate. Though the number varies year to year, the bear population here is often over 50, with highs of more than 70 bears in recent years. We'll have the opportunity to photograph bears of all sizes, from massive 1000 pound boars to tiny young spring cubs: walking, running, fighting, playing, fishing, napping, climbing, swimming, etc, etc.
As fall winds up, the bears look better and better; their coats fill out, the bears fatten up and lose their shaggy, lean summer look. Some males will gain as much as 500lbs in a few short months gorging on rich Sockeye Salmon (also known as red salmon) and Coho Salmon (silver salmon). The vibrant peak fall color of the transitional boreal forest provide a backdrop as photogenic as any; photography in the fall here simply can't be beaten.
There are often various other species of animals in the area, including mink, fox, wolf, lynx, least weasel, occasionally moose, and a variety of birds, including 3 species of gulls, magpie, bald eagle, Common mergansers. However, our concentration will be on grizzly bears in the prime time of their yearly cycle. All you have to worry about is photographing the great bears, from sunup to sundown.
Note: If camping isn't your gig, have a look at the Coastal Brown Bear Photo Tour for June; this is a first class tour with Chuck Keim and his charter boat, Coastal Explorer.
Respect for the subject is absolute. Your and the bears’ safety is paramount, and we maintain a “safety-first” standard at all times. We go through a thorough safety talk before the trip, and closely adhere to the most current protocols on safe travel in bear country. Safety-first means caution, it means responsibility and it requires an excellent knowledge of the area: the terrain, wildlife, backcountry camping, etc. Your guide is also a certified Wilderness First Responder. We make a concerted effort to not harass and/or disturb the wildlife. A smaller group size not only ensures you the photography opportunities you need but also that our group doesn’t bother the bears. We understand the difference between nature photographers and the paparazzi, and will neither approach too closely nor stay too long.
Grizzly Bear Photo Tour Videos
Logistics, info, tour dates and all that good stuff
This trip is perfect for the intermediate to advanced or professional photographer looking for a small group to join for a week of concentrated grizzly bear photography. The photography requires some walking, so being in reasonable shape is important. Special attention is given to capturing unique and creative grizzly bear photos, so we make the extra effort to put ourselves in the best spots to shoot from.
By camping on site, we’re able to be in place to photograph during the best light; this isn't a vacation and bear viewing trip, but a photography trip. Meals will be scheduled around our photography, ensuring we don’t miss any great light or bear action.
Carrying long telephoto lenses, plus other camera gear, we’ll walk several miles each day; it is hard work – you’ll be tired at the end of a long day, and ready for some great hot food and good times by the campfire.
Chest waders are necessary, for both safety and optimal photography opportunities – we (and the bears) spend a good deal of time in the water. 2 camera bodies are optimal, and you’ll also want to bring plenty of extra batteries, memory cards (or film), backup storage, warm clothing, rain gear, and a range of lens choices, from wide to telephotos. All that and a bundle of enthusiasm will make your trip a memorable and successful one.
See a whole of of helpful information on the photo tours FAQs page.
The terms for this particular trip are as follows:
$50% deposit. Balance is due 45 days prior to the trip departure. If the client cancels on a trip paid in full, 90% of the price can be deferred to another trip within the next 12 months, provided that
i) Expeditions Alaska is able to fill the spot,
ii) the trip is full and
iii) 30 days notice is given.
If cancellation is within 30 days of the trip, only 75% of the fee can be carried over to a future trip. No refunds are given for cancellations within 14 days of the trip departure. For a complete review of Terms, see here.
To Contact Expeditions Alaska about this trip, please use this Contact Form.
By keeping our group size small, your trip remains about you and your photographic experience with the bears. Group size is restricted to 4 or 5 people (depending on circumstances); exceptions will only be considered on a case by case basis. We think group size is a critical part of the experience, and don’t like to see hordes of photographers bunched around a subject, crowding and pushing for photos.
In order that we maximize your time in the park, we will meet in King Salmon, Alaska, and take a charter flight from there to our camp before lunchtime (as such, it is best if you schedule your arrival in King Salmon the day before our trip begins). We’ll get a chance to shoot the first afternoon and evening, then have 6 more full days of shooting, before our final night in camp. We then have a few hours to shoot in the morning before a midday charter flight back to King Salmon. It’s only a little more than a one hour commercial flight from King Salmon to Anchorage, so most folks can be back in Anchorage that evening if they wish.
Expeditions Alaska provide high quality, comfortable tents and we will have an electric fence around the campsite. This trip will be outfitted completely; all camping gear will be furnished; other than your personal gear (sleeping bag, clothes, etc, of course). We take care of food and shelter, with our own camp cook. We'll have solid, secure gear and food caches, plus weather-protected wooden shelters for inside dining in wet weather; even in harsh weather the camping is more than comfortable. If you need assistance with any gear, please don’t hesitate to ask. We also carry a satellite phone, as well as both First Aid and Basic Life Support kits.
Guide & Photo Tour Leader
With well over 10 years experience photographing Grizzly bears and many trips to Katmai National Park, as well as guiding extended remote wilderness backpacking trips, I works impossibly hard to ensure trip participants have a safe trip and a fantastic experience. The advantages of being a local Alaska business include knowledge of the place; the relationships of the history, the geography and ecology of the area, promising trip participants a fascinating adventure. I offer a first rate trip because we keep it small and maintain the utmost respect for the places we visit; this translates to an unforgettable photo tour that I'm more than sure you’ll absolutely love. Read more about me and Expeditions Alaska on the About page.