When is the best time to view the bears?

Bear viewing is great from mid May to the end of September. This unusual reliability for viewing is due to the amazing abundance of food sources available along the coast. The bears have no reason to go elsewhere for food. To observe mating behavior, May and June are best. For fishing behavior, late June to September is best. You can choose to view bears at Lake Clark National Park or Katmai National Park. When it comes to Alaska bear viewing, we know where to find the bears!

Is it safe?

Bear viewing is safe. Confrontations between bears and humans can be avoided when people have a clear understanding of bear behavior and show the bears respect. Bears don't like surprises; make noise, wave your arms, talk loudly or sing. Avoid thick brush. Bears are extremely fast (up to 35 mph), never try to outrun them. They will chase anything that runs. Do not crowd or harass the bears. Give them plenty of space, especially mothers with their cubs. If you invade their personal space, they may charge. Never feed bears, it is both foolish and illegal. Groups of three or more are generally safer than individuals. Stay in a group and follow your guides instructions at all times.

What should I bring with me for a day trip?

  • Medications. If you use any, bring enough for 2 days in case of a weather delay. Weather days are rare but do happen a few times a year
  • Lunch, snacks and water (you do not need to bring these items if you're going to the Alaska Homestead Lodge, as they provide it)
  • Day pack to carry your essentials
  • Bug Dope
  • Camera with extra film, memory cards and batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat and gloves
  • Rubber boots (we have a limited supply)
  • Rain jacket and pants

What should I NOT bring?

Do not bring pepper spray. Pepper spray can be deadly to the pilot and passengers if accidentally discharged during the flight. Check with your pilot before bringing a firearm. Some areas we travel to do not allow firearms.

How should I dress?

Please dress appropriately for cool, wet and windy weather. The temperature can vary from a warm 70 F to a cool 40 F. We recommend layered clothing so you can remove layers for warmer weather.

What if we are weathered out?

All trips are weather-dependent. If we are unable to go because of weather, each passenger has an option for a full refund or to rebook for another date (on a space available basis).

What time do the flights depart Homer?

Departure times are tide dependent as we will land you on a beach. The beaches we land on are often nicer and safer to land on than many gravel strip airports in Alaska. We plan our arrivals and departures around the tides. Please check in with Smokey Bay Air staff the day before your trip to find out what the departure time will be.

Can people who are not physically fit make the trip?

Our trips require each passenger be able to walk unassisted over uneven terrain including but not limited to sand, rocks, high grass, thick mud, through moving water, and over logs for up to 5 miles. You need to be able to get in and out of the airplane with minimal help. Our weight limit per passenger is 280 lbs.

What kind of airplane will I be traveling in?

Smokey Bay Air operates Cessna 206's. These are 5-passenger aircraft. The Cessna 206 is the workhorse of Alaska. These aircraft are ideally suited to the type of flying that is typical in Alaska. They are ultra-reliable, very forgiving and have a superb safety record. All our airplanes have intercoms and a headset will be normally provided.

Where is Katmai National Park?

Katmai National Park is on the Alaska Peninsula across from Kodiak Island. Check out our area map.

Where is Lake Clark National Park?

Silver Salmon Creek and Chinitna Bay are located in Lake Clark National Park, on the western shore of the Cook Inlet. Check out our area map.

How long is the flight?

The flight to Silver Salmon Creek, in Lake Clark National Park, is about 50 minutes each way.

The flight to Chinitna Bay, in Lake Clark National Park, is about 60 minutes each way.

The flight to Hallo Bay, in Katmai National Park, is about 1 1/2 hours each way.

What else should you know about me?

It is helpful if you can let us know in advance if you have any disabilities, food allergies (if food is being provided for your trip) and/or restrictions prior to your visit.