Welcome to Lake Clark National Park and Reserve, Alaska’s premier isolated wilderness. Lake Clark lies north of Katmai National Park and across Cook Inlet, 120 air miles southwest of Anchorage and 65 air miles northwest of Homer. The park is rugged and remote, and with no road system, it is accessible only by plane. This makes it the most isolated state park in Alaska.

Generations of conservationists and the region’s ancestral inhabitants, the Dena’ina people, have enjoyed and honored the balanced, abundant and diverse landscapes of Lake Clark National Park and its wild creatures for more than 10,000 years. Today, the national park and preserve protects approximately 4 million acres of diverse habitats.

Landscapes range from grasslands to tundra, forests to salt marshes. Centuries of dynamic geologic and ecological processes have created scenic mountain landscapes and unaltered watersheds.

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Lake Clark itself sits at the center of this historic national park. Glaciers, waterfalls, rivers and streams feed the clear turquoise waters of this 50-mile-long lake. The park’s three main rivers—the Mulchatna, the Chilikadrotna and the Tlikakila, are officially designated part of the Wild and Scenic River system. The U.S. Forest Service gives this protection to waterways with remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, and historic values.

The park also hosts two active volcanoes that sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna. Every distinctive Alaskan landscape is represented in Lake Clark National Park. 

lake clark national park alaska

© Ralph Lee Hopkins

Brown Bears of Lake Clark National Park

The pristine wilderness of Alaska’s national parks supports 95% of the brown bears in the U.S., with Lake Clark National Park supporting healthy populations of both coastal and inland brown bears of the species Ursus arctos horribilis. 

Brown bears and grizzlies are two names commonly used for the same species. They are distinguished primarily by their geographic location, which creates distinct variations in diet, size and behavior.

Brown bears are found in coastal areas where they have abundant access to marine-derived food resources. The estuaries along the park’s Cook Inlet coast host an urban center of the Alaskan bear world. Lake Clark’s rich coastal habitat supports large populations of brown bears throughout the spring before they return to their dens to hibernate. Salt marshes grow sedges high in protein, and berries grow along the hillsides. Tidal flats are brimming with a reliable source of clams year-round. Occasionally, whales or other marine carcasses wash ashore, providing a tasty treat for the bears.

The rivers coursing through the estuary become filled with salmon each summer as they return to spawn and die further upstream. This provides brown bears with 40% of their diet. Pacific salmon spend the majority of their lives in the vastness of the ocean, only to embark on an extraordinary journey back to the freshwater rivers of their birth for spawning. With their robust tails, they navigate against strong currents, swimming hundreds of miles and even surmounting vertical leaps of over 13 feet to conquer waterfalls in the rushing rapids.

brown bear grizzly family mother and cubs nursing and playing in the grass summer alaska

© Brad Josephs

This protein-rich environment allows brown bears to grow much larger on average than their inland counterparts. Some of the largest males can reach over 1,500 pounds by the time they enter the den to hibernate. Most males weigh about 600–900 pounds by late summer, and females usually are a third of that weight. This region has everything a bear could dream of, and the abundance of food allows bears to be more tolerant and exist in larger groups.

On the other hand, grizzlies primarily inhabit inland regions where their diet mainly consists of terrestrial food sources, with limited or no access to marine-derived resources. They rely more heavily on berries, roots, insects, and ground squirrels. A treat might include the rare caribou carcass to scavenge or a successful catch of a moose calf. The competition for resources is higher; therefore, grizzlies revert to their solitary nature and won’t congregate together in larger numbers. They are also much less tolerant of humans. 

Four Ways Nat Hab’s Alaska Bear Camp Takes Old-School Summer Camp to the Next Level

Natural Habitat Adventures Alaska Bear Camp lake clark national park rainbow tent cabins

© Mike Hillman

1. Exchange Rundown Buses for Thrilling Bushplane Adventures

Nat Hab’s Alaska Bear Camp is a 15-acre private, fly-in camp on Chinitna Bay on the southern end of Lake Clark Park. Travelers can access the camp via a 30-minute charter flight from Homer. Nat Hab charters these small planes, and your brief journey will take you over Cook Inlet, where you will pass the snow-covered volcanoes of Redoubt and Iliamna, where the Aleutian Range meets the glaciated Alaska Range, before landing on the beach in front of camp. 

natural habitat adventures alaska bear camp chartered plane private fly-in camp

© Kay Gilmour

2. Swap Rustic Bunks for Deluxe Tent Cabins and Upscale Comfort

Ditch cold cabins with creaky floorboards and enjoy the low-impact luxury of Bear Camp. Nat Hab provides the ultimate blend of comfort and wilderness adventure. The camp was designed to have an unobtrusive presence, with heavy-duty weatherproof tent cabins built on a raised deck in front of the forest, facing the Cook Inlet shoreline.

Natural Habitat Adventures Alaska Bear Camp lake clark national park luxury tent cabins

© Court Whelan

In addition to the views of glacier-covered volcanoes, sapphire waters out front and droves of brown bears are drawn to our doorstep. The cabins are heated, spacious and furnished with real beds, battery-powered lights, charging stations and a potty for nighttime needs. The bathhouse has hot showers and state-of-the-art composting toilets for the entire camp. 

Natural Habitat Adventures Alaska Bear Camp lake clark national park luxury tent cabins interiors

© Court Whelan

3. DitchDining Hall Mystery Meat for Gourmet Meals

Enjoy chef-prepared meals together with your fellow travelers under the communal dining tent. Our resident chef creates impressive dishes drawing extensively on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including fish and seafood straight out of regional waters.

4. Rely on Expert Expedition Leaders vs. Traditional Camp Counselors

“It is truly special to be able to sit and watch brown bears for an extended period and to feel you are developing a connection with individual bears out in the meadow.”- Zachary B, Nat Hab Traveler.

What sets Nat Hab’s Bear Camp above the parks in the area are the seasoned Bear Camp Expedition Leaders, who are not only professional naturalists, they’re bear experts. Everyone who comes to Bear Camp will be greeted by camp manager Caprice Stoner when they touch down on the beach in front of the camp.

natural habitat adventures alaska bear camp expedition leader and camp manager smiling for a photo

Caprice Stoner (pictured right) alongside Nat Hab Expedition Leader Jessica Morgan © Court Whelan

Watch in awe as brown bears roam, fish, and forage within Lake Clark National Park, right from the camp’s doorstep. Social dynamics are on display, and you can witness how male bears interact with each other and with females. Body posturing and vocalizations can tell quite a story. Witness cubs emerge into a society of bears and learn social behaviors, skills and how to survive. 

Caprice Stoner has managed Bear Camp for 17 years. In addition to leading the camp’s operations, she is a certified naturalist who delights at the opportunity to introduce travelers to the wonderment of seeing brown bears in their native habitat. Her inspiring dedication and passion for conservation touch every traveler who visits Bear Camp.

Natural Habitat Adventures Expedition Leaders and office staff members joyfully pose for a photo in Lake Clark National Park for Alaska Bear Camp's inaugural season

© Court Whelan

Throughout your experience, you will enjoy the company of highly trained naturalists, biologists, and environmental educators with the good nature and grades needed to foster a superlative travel experience. They receive in-depth training plus exclusive resources from World Wildlife Fund’s team of scientists. Their enthusiasm and support are frequently mentioned in camper reviews

Ready to meet the brown bears of Lake Clark National Park? Learn more about our Alaska Bear Camp and book your stay today!