World-class fishing and bear viewing: This is why most people travel to the out-of-the-way destination of King Salmon. But they’re not the only good reasons to visit. The area also provides access to nearby walrus viewing locations and migratory birds, and the people—a mix of fishermen and native locals—are super-friendly. King Salmon also boasts gorgeous scenery: On a clear day, you can see coastal mountains and volcanoes stretching along the Aleutians Islands.
The Main Activities
Bear Viewing in Katmai National Park. The iconic images of bears swatting at salmon as they swim upstream comes from Brooks Falls, in Katmai National Park—and King Salmon is the gateway there. It’s just 30 miles and a quick plane ride away. Another park highlight? The Valley of the Ten Thousand Smokes—the dramatic, ashy remains of a volcanic eruption in 1912.
Fishing. King Salmon is near the head of the Naknek River and Bristol Bay, home to the largest run of salmon in the world. In fact, you can find King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Silver Salmon, and Rainbow Trout in the Naknek River. And come summertime, you’ll also find lots of anglers looking to reel them in.
Getting Here/Staying Here
Flying here is your only option; King Salmon isn’t connected to a major road system. Commercial flights come from Anchorage and take just an hour.
The average person might stay 3 days.
Accommodations are limited in peak season—partly due to a great number of repeat visitors—so be sure to plan ahead.
The geography of King Salmon is rolling tundra, with very few trees. In the summer it can be a pleasant 70 degrees and sunny, but strong winds can send temperatures down into the 40s and 50s.
Drop by the King Salmon Visitor Center, located right next to the airport, for information when you arrive. It also serves as the visitor center for the area’s national parklands.
Early development here goes back to the 1930s; growth was spurred by the creation of an air navigation site, which the U.S. Air Force used to build a base in 1942. By the end of that decade, the Fish and Wildlife Service had established a fish management station here, and by the late 1950s, nearly 100 people were working to help manage the fisheries. The base is now used as a logistics center for the Bechanof National Wildlife Reserve. Katmai National Park is headquartered on the base, and the base is still maintained in case the Airforce needs it in the future.