The campground is by far the most economical place to stay. Although all that stands between your sleeping form and the bears is the nylon of your tent and an electrical fence. That being said, I slept quite well after the first night jitters. Anytime you camp in Alaska, use a good quality tent. It can get quite chilly even in the summer and the bugs are voracious. You must have a waterproof tent without any holes.
Most visitors to Katmai NP pass through King Salmon. Here are a few hotels in case you need to spend the night in King Salmon
I didnt stay at any of these hotels.
Quinnat Lodge US$ 250 per night 907 246 3000
King Ko Inn US$ 208 per night 907 246 3377
Antlers Inn US$ 110 per night 907 246 8525
One more option is to backpack / camp into the park and camp wherever you like. The only restriction is that no camping is allowed within a few miles of Brooks Camp, presumably due to the very high bear density,
There are at least two trails that begin at Brooks camp, or one can use the bus tour into the Valley of 10000 Smokes, and get off and be picked up anywhere along the 24 mile long road.
Naturally, you would need to be well prepared for bear encounters, bad weather, and insects.
A company called Katmailand operates a dining hall and cabins at Brooks Camp. I never went inside the cabins but they looked nice and I think they even have running water and a toilet.
The most outstanding thing about the cabins would be the price. The least expensive I saw was approximately US$ 350 per night.
On the plus side, you wont be tortured by insects and they are also on the shore of Naknek lake with a very nice view.
Also, the floatplanes from King Salmon begin bringing in visitors about 630 am, and the noise woke me up each morning at the campground, so if you are a late sleeper, you will probably sleep in better in a cabin.
The Katmai NP maintains a campground at Brooks Camp, about 1/4 mile from the visitor center. For US$ 8 per night you get a place to pitch a tent, cooking / fire areas, a food storage shed, and the company of fellow travellers.
This was a pleasant campground - clean with lots of deep grass. unfortunately it was hard to enjoy due to the intense presence of 'White Socks' (terrible biting flies).
The campground is cheap, especially considering the cost of the alternatives.
This is the only campground Ive ever seen that is surrounded by an electric fence... to keep out curious bears. Im sure I slept much better because of it.
The campground is on the western shore of Naknek Lake, and the view of the lake, floatplanes, and passing bears is great.
At least once per day, we were prevented from either getting to or from the campground due to bears on the trail between the campground and the rest of Brooks camp.
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