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Katmai National Park

Pictures by QT Luong

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[Backpacking the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes]

Large format photos of Katmai National Park · Panoramic photos of Katmai National Park]

Located 300 miles Southwest from Anchorage, near the end of the Alaska Peninsula and along the crest of the Pacific Rim of fire, Katmai is today mostly known as the largest the spawning grounds of millions of Sockeye salmon, which attract the largest Brown bear population in the world. However, what prompted the creation of the Park was the eruption of Novaropta in 1912, the largest recorded in modern times. Acid rain burned clothing lines as far as Vancouver, and locally a lantern held at arm's length could not be seen for days. The floor of a vast Valley was buried in 700 feet of pumice and ash, and its surface was found by a 1916 National Geographic expedition to be steaming with thousands of fumaroles, hence the name Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Nowadays, the fumaroles are gone from the valley floor, however nearly a century of harsh weather has enhanced its beauty, and one can now gaze into river canyons hundreds of feet deep where the layers of pumice and ash have been slowly eroded by the channeled rain and snowmelt.

You have probably seen images of a brown bear catching a salmon flying mid-air. It is almost certain that the photograph was made at Brooks falls. There is an observation platform where you stand just in front of the bears, and a modest telephoto is sufficient to take a good picture. Nowhere else it is as easy to view them, and often inadvertently encounter them on the trail or on the lake beach. While all visitors spend some time to admire those magnificent animals, and sometimes take the four-wheel drive bus for a tour to an overlook to watch the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Eureka Wang and I set up to backpack in the Valley for a week. Although bad weather thwarted our attempts to climb the high peaks surrounding the valley, we left with memorable impressions of an eerily unique landscape. See also the pictures of backpacking.

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Lake and mountains at sunset. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Sunset and rainbow, Naknek lake. Katmai National Park ( color) Bear tracks, Naknek lake. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bears in Brooks river. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear (Ursus arctos) on the shore of Naknek lake. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear in shallows waters of Naknek lake. Katmai National Park ( color) Overview of Brown bears fishing at the Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bears fishing at the Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Salmon leaping and Brown bears fishing at the Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear (Ursus arctos) trying to catch leaping salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Wildflowers and Lethe river at the edge of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Animal tracks in ash, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Snow-covered mountains contrasting with arid valley floor. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Melting snow and lichens, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Brightly colored ash in wide plain, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Deep gorge carved by the Lethe River, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Stream flows from the verdant hills into the barren floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Colorful ash and Lethe River gorge, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Ash dune formation, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Wildflowers, pumice, and distant peaks in storm, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Detail of pumice, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Colorful slab, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Mt Meigeck emerging above ash plain of Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes at dusk. Katmai National Park ( color) Yellow paintbrush and orchid flowers. Katmai National Park ( color) Orchids and Yellow paintbrush. Katmai National Park ( color) Lupine and Lethe river on the edge of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Gorge cut in volcanic ash plain, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Convergence of the Lethe river and and Knife river, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Gorge at the convergence of  Lethe and Knife rivers, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Gorge carved by Lethe River ash floor of Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Deep gorge carved by the Lethe river in the ash-covered floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Lethe river gorge and volcanic peaks, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Stream flows from the hills into the floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Lethe river, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Stream flowing into arid ash-covered valley. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Volcanic landscape with deep gorge cut into ash valley. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Stormy landscape with ash-covered valley and mountains. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Volcanic landscape with river cutting into ash valley. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Lethe river cutting deep into ash floor, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Stream flows from verdant hills into  barren valley floor. Katmai National Park ( color) The Lethe river carved a deep gorge into the ash of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Snowfield and Lethe river, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Wildflowers grow on ash at the limit of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Wildflowers growing on foothills bordering the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Mt Meigeck, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, sunset. Katmai National Park ( color) Snow-covered mountains with pink dusk sky. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) A break in the clouds illuminate the floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Ash plain, and mountains at sunset, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Big bear tracks in the ash, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Close-up of animal tracks in fine ash, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Valley with animal tracks in  ash, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Ash-covered valley. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Arid ash plain landscape with colorful deposits. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Ash formation, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Ash formation on the floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes, below the green hills. Katmai National Park ( color) Colorful ash, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Colorful slabs in the ash-covered floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Ash-covered floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, evening. Katmai National Park ( color) Mt Meigeck rising above floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smoke. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Desert-like ash-covered valley surrounded by snowy peaks. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Snow-covered mountains surrounding ash-covered flats. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Ash formation, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) The desert-like floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes is surrounded by snow-covered peaks such as Mt Meigeck. Katmai National Park ( color) Mt Meigeck raises above the floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Snow-covered peaks surrounding the arid ash-covered floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Patterns of melting snow, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Pumice below Novarupta volcano, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Baked mountain seen from Novarupta. Katmai National Park ( color) Snow is still present in early summer, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Pumice slopes and misty mountains. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Lichens, snow patches, and snowy peaks. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Tiny plants growing on ash floor, Valley of Ten Thousand Smoke. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Volcanic landscape with pumice hills surrounding ash valley. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Pumice and wildflowers, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Rare plants growing out of the ash of Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Pumice close-up, Valley of Ten Thousand Smoke. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Tiny plants begin to reestablish themselves in the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Close-up of tiny plants in the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Close-up of tiny plants and flowers, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bears gathering at Brooks Falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear trying to catch leaping salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear (Ursus arctos) catching leaping salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bears (scientific name: ursus arctos) fishing at the Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear (Ursus arctos) fishing at the base of Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear holding in mounth  salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear and bird at the base of Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear (Ursus arctos) fishing for salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear standing on rock at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear extending leg to catch jumping salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear with catch  at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear (Ursus arctos) and leaping salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear in the Brooks river. Katmai National Park ( color) Overview of Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear (scientific name: ursus arctos) chewing salmon at the base of Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear (Ursus arctos) holding salmon with leg at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Leaping salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Two Brown bears trying to catch leaping salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear watching a salmon jumping out of catching range at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bear with caught salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Brown bear (scientific name: ursus arctos) eating salmon at Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Alaskan Brown bears gathered at Brooks Falls. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Brown bears encounters on trail are frequent at Brooks camp. Katmai National Park ( color) A brown bears plays with a photographer's equipment. Katmai National Park ( color) Aerial view of Naknek lake. Katmai National Park ( color) Brooks camp and river seen from the Dumpling mountain. Katmai National Park ( color) Reflections in pond near Brooks camp. Katmai National Park ( color) Sunset on the Brooks river. Katmai National Park ( color) Naknek Lake at sunset with pink clouds. Katmai National Park ( color) Bear tracks on the shore of Naknek lake. Katmai National Park ( color) Lake and Mountains with pink clouds at sunset. Katmai National Park (Panoramic color) Bears and salmon on visitor center sign. Katmai National Park ( color) Baggage claim, King Salmon. Katmai National Park ( color) Katmai lodge, Brooks camp. Katmai National Park ( color) Sign in Brooks campground, warning of the electric fence used to keep the bears out. Katmai National Park ( color) Camper ferrying loads into the campground. Katmai National Park ( color) Food and gear cache in the campground, protected from bears by an electric fence. Katmai National Park ( color) Man fishing for salmon in the Brooks river. Katmai National Park ( color) Fishermen in the Brooks river. Katmai National Park ( color) Floatplane in Naknek lake. Katmai National Park ( color) Group heading towards Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Crossing a bridge on the way to Brooks falls. Katmai National Park ( color) Photographers at the Brooks falls obervation platform. Katmai National Park ( color) Photographers on observation platform and Brooks falls with bears. Katmai National Park ( color) Bear viewing. Katmai National Park ( color)
All the 125 color pictures of Katmai National Park are on this page